Many communities in Southampton do not feel represented. It's been 43 years since the town council included someone from Flanders. Residents of East Quogue are mobilizing to create their own village. People want a say about what gets done in their hamlet.
We can fix this by creating six electoral districts, or wards, three on each side of the canal. This would increase the number of council seats to six. The supervisor's seat would still be at large. Currently, our four council members, with their benefit packages each make $108,652, which puts $434,608 in the budget. Instead of adding another $217,304 to the budget, I propose dividing the current line by six, to give council members a compensation package of $72,434.67.
There are community centers in each region that could serve as district offices. Residents would have someone from their community representing them in town hall, someone who knows them and knows their issues.
It takes 45 minutes on a good day to get from Sag Harbor to Eastport. It's hard for four at-large councilmembers to keep up with each region, which all have their own issues, problems and goals. Some may say this would decrease representation because voters would no longer be able to approach any councilmember; I believe those who run to serve will always listen to any voter.
A ward system for Southampton was voted down in 1997, when many people considered it a political stunt. A lot has changed in the past 22 years -- demographics, population and politics. I think it's time. This is a bridge to our future.
Currently to pay one's property taxes online using a credit card incurs a $60. Many town departments do not accept credit cards. It's time for town government to update its system for taking payments. We should be able to pay for everything from building permits to dog licenses online.
In August 2018 I helped the Southampton Democratic Committee update its platform; we spent hours of debate and making deliberate word choices. I am proud to say I agree with and support the committee's platform and, hence, its stand on the issues that affect the residents of Southampton Town. It breaks down into four parts:
- Protect the environment and quality of life, which is the engine of our economy.
- Strengthen our economy.
- Make government more effective and accountable.
- Encourage welcoming communities, with equality across all ethnic and cultural groups.
Full platform below.
The Southampton Democratic Party stands for fairness, inclusiveness and a belief that government should act as a force for good in society. We believe that government can and should look after the interests of all its constituents: creating a level playing field where all can prosper and benefit from growth; supporting innovation in science and technology to create jobs while protecting our precious natural resources; protecting the most vulnerable in our community and treating everyone equally under the law.
We pledge to raise funds, choose candidates and campaign in a transparent and ethical manner consistent with the following principles and policies:
1. PROTECT OUR ENVIRONMENT AND QUALITY OF LIFE, WHICH IS THE ENGINE OF OUR ECONOMY
a. Fully cooperate with regional efforts to improve the quality of our coastal waters and preserve the quality of our aquifer. Support the goals and efforts of the Long Island Clean Water Partnership. Implement long-term solutions to pollution from cesspools, including modern septic treatment plants, and promote responsible use of chemicals in the environment.
b. Develop and implement a hazard mitigation plan that recognizes the impact on our beaches and structures of long term climate change and resultant sea level rise.
c. Restrict plastic packaging to keep it out of our environment and the Town’s waste stream.
d. Increase the number of safe bicycle paths for residents and visitors by working with the New York State Department of Transportation, neighboring municipalities and local advocacy groups.
e. Make changes as necessary to bring the Community Preservation Fund (CPF) into conformance with the original program intent of preserving our agricultural heritage.
Purchase at a fair price as much farmland and open space as the CPF allows where it will have the most favorable impact on the local environment, including lands critical to surface and groundwater purity. Partner with nonprofits where helpful to achieve these goals.
f. Support implementation of the Sustainability addendum to the Town Comprehensive Plan as adopted by the Town Board in 2013.
2. STRENGTHEN OUR ECONOMY
a. Stimulate locally appropriate economic revitalization; support local commercial and recreational fishing, improved vacation accommodations; and expand community use of local educational institutions to help sustain a year-round economy.
b. Increase the amount of workforce housing. Consider public/private partnerships to lease public land for affordable and market-based housing.
c. Investigate how to reduce electricity rates in the town. Means might include municipal power generation and/or purchasing power from sources other than PSEG.
d. Ensure adequate public transportation for local residents, including demand responsive services.
3. MAKE GOVERNMENT MORE EFFECTIVE AND ACCOUNTABLE
a. Pass ethics laws with strict requirements against conflicts of interest for elected and appointed officials, including a code of conduct and ethics training for Advisory Board appointees similar to the judicial code of conduct. Include stiff penalties for violations.
b. Consider implementing a Town Manager form of government to reduce government costs, reduce taxes, improve administrative efficiency and lessen political influence on day-to-day governmental functions.
c. Be responsible stewards of the public trust and control costs by: offsetting proposed spending increases by reducing expenses through consolidation of government services; increasing regional cooperation, e.g., common procurements with other governmental bodies to reduce costs; and adopting a capital plan that will reduce overall Town debt with time.
d. Institute a realistic, fair property assessment process.
e. Reduce dependence of Town and school financing on property taxes.
f. Support ad hoc task force groups, like the Opioid Crisis Task Force, to address critical issues that need immediate attention.
g. Improve effectiveness, consistency and transparency of code enforcement.
h. Improve the design of highways and roads, as they are repaired to improve drainage and reduce repair and maintenance costs.
4. ENCOURAGE WELCOMING COMMUNITIES, WITH EQUALITY ACROSS ALL ETHNIC AND CULTURAL GROUPS.
a. Ensure full language access in Town offices, Police, and the Courts.
b. Strive for Code Enforcement regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information in accordance with civil rights laws; continue to support anti-bias task force.
c. Immigration enforcement is not our local police force’s job, but rather their job is to build safe and respectful communities and protect all of our residents.
d. Continue to support parks and recreation