It is impossible for local government leaders to please everyone and they should certainly not try. There always will be divergent and varied opinions on most issues and, in Sag Harbor — perhaps the least apathetic of South Fork communities — that is almost always the case.
That said, it is the responsibility of elected officials to hear everyone out, no matter their differences of opinion. It is also the responsibility of elected officials to lead. That means detailing, in public, new zoning concepts or proposed legislation and offering residents ample opportunities to give their opinions long before any final decisions are made.
Current Sag Harbor Mayor Sandra Schroeder has dedicated virtually her entire adult life to the village as village clerk and administrator, and certainly in her volunteer efforts, and for that she deserves a lot of praise and gratitude.
However, as Sag Harbor has come under tremendous development pressure in the last two years in particular, the Village Board of Trustees with Ms. Schroeder at the helm has, as a whole, struggled to communicate with the public it represents. Monthly meetings — even those involving significant decisions like bonding for millions of dollars for Long Wharf — include little to no public discussion.
There are just a handful of work sessions at which trustees discuss issues in an open forum. This lack of transparency has bogged down legislation, the recent waterways law being a prime example. It has also led to general frustration and controversy when issues like the impound yard near the Long Pond Greenbelt come up, seemingly out of nowhere to a surprised public. The removal of public comment at the beginning of the monthly village board meeting also quashed public dialogue.
Elected officials are representatives of the whole community — not just an agreeable faction. And Sag Harbor is not a village that can be reactionary any longer — there is too much at stake. Whether it’s through the lens of revisiting the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan, taking a look at the village’s Comprehensive Plan or the development of a long-term infrastructure plan that addresses longstanding issues like parking and transportation, this is a village that has a lot to accomplish. Kathleen Mulcahy has experience with long-term planning and multi-million-dollar budgets. She also demonstrates a willingness and desire to involve the community in the work of the village, harness its talents and ideas and listen to opposing views in charting the best course forward. Ms. Mulcahy has pledged transparency and inclusiveness, which is what this village needs if it is going to be successful going forward.