Thea Dombrowski-Fry, who was born and raised in Water Mill, is making her first run for public office as a Republican candidate for town board. Ms. Dombrowski-Fry is currently a teaching assistant at Southampton Intermediate School and has worked in the district for 22 years. Before that she was a Southampton Village police officer for a decade. She now lives in Hampton Bays with her husband and 13-year-old son.
“We clam, hunt, crab; do all the things locals do and I want him to be able do that in 20 years,” she said of her son in explaining her decision to run. “There are so many things that need to be improved, and I want to make sure he has a bit of this paradise to enjoy when he grows up.”
Ms. Dombrowski-Fry said economic revitalization is a must. “Let’s take Hampton Bays. It’s a beautiful little hamlet,” she said. “But it needs a face-lift. It needs development and more hometown businesses to help boost the economy and bring in more full-time people.”
She pointed to revitalization efforts in the Flanders-Riverside area as promising developments. “Slowly but surely, we are going to expand on those things, so that area becomes the gateway to the community.”
Specifically, Ms. Dombrowksi-Fry said she would like to see the town encourage the use of motels “as motels so people coming out to visit have a place to stay” and broader efforts to provide more affordable housing, so young people can remain in town.
She said she would like to see a new town law that offers incentives to homeowners putting in new wastewater systems to be expanded “so every person on the East End can redo their septics so they have less impact on the environment.”
The candidate also said she would encourage a town Police Department effort toward community policing. “It’s good for young kids if they know who their police officers are,” she said. “They might think twice before they do something that is not appropriate.”
Republican Stan Glinka, who also has the backing of the Conservative Party, is seeking his second term on the town board. Born and raised in Southampton, Mr. Glinka is a vice president with the Bridgehampton National Bank, where he works in the private banking department.
Mr. Glinka said he brings his business acumen and a hands-on approach to the job, noting that he has familiarized himself with the town’s code enforcement, police and highway departments by going on overnight ride-alongs.
His experience with code enforcement officers led to an angry exchange during the 2016 budget season when Mr. Glinka vociferously opposed Supervisor Jay Schneiderman’s proposal to create a separate Code Enforcement Department with its own director. “I was very upset because when we needed more boots on the ground we were spending $150,000 for an administrator,” he said. “In Hampton Bays, Flanders, and North Hampton, there are lots of issues. It’s very trying when you only have five code enforcement officers.”
Mr. Ginka said in his first term he was most proud of his ability to get state legislation passed to allow real estate tax breaks for investors willing to renovate and return to their original use motels that had become long-term housing. Three groups have taken advantage of the program, he said. If re-elected, he said he continue to work on creating similar programs to attract businesses and investors to other blighted pockets of the town.
During his second term, Mr. Glinka said he would like to continue his work in code enforcement and serve his constituents at the personal level. “They know I have a realistic approach and understand the financial aspects of revitalizing property as well as the code and what they can and cannot do,” he said. “They are comfortable coming to me and I’m proud of that.”
Democrat Julie Lofstad, who has been endorsed by the Independence, Working Families and Women’s Equality parties, is seeking her first full term on the board, after winning a special election in 2016 to complete the term of Brad Bender, who resigned after pleading guilty to drug charges.
If elected to a full term, the growing opioid crisis is one of the issues Ms. Lofstad would like the town board to tackle. “Almost everyone has a friend, family member or knows of someone who has been affected,” she said. The town board recently established an opioid task force to study the problem and propose solutions by next June. “We have to have a three-pronged approach, educating kids in school to what these drugs can do, getting the medical community on board to control over-prescribing of pain killers and working with law enforcement.”
Ms. Lofstad said protecting the environment is important for both health and economic reasons and said she looked forward to the town continuing to make strides toward improving water quality. A new septic rebate law was adopted earlier this year, and Ms. Lofstad the town has to get the word out that all homeowners, not just those undertaking new construction, can qualify for healthy town and county rebates to replace septic systems with new systems that reduce the amount of harmful nitrogen released. “We have to work to get the word out,” she said. “A lot of people have no clue this is going on even though it has been in the paper and on the town’s website.”
Providing additional affordable housing is also a goal, she said, noting that she was proud of the success the town had in shepherding through a 38-unit project in Speonk. “The community was very vocally against it,” she said, but after town officials discussed it with the community and reached compromises, residents eventually came around and threw their support behind the project. “I hope to make that a pilot program for what we want to do in the future,” she said.
Tommy John Schiavoni
Democrat Tommy John Schiavoni of North Haven, who is currently a member of the Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals and the Sag Harbor School Board, is making his first run for townwide office. Mr. Schiavoni, who formerly served as a North Haven Village trustee and member of that village’s ZBA, has also been endorsed by the Independence, Working Families and Women’s Equality parties.
Mr. Schiavoni said a major reason he decided to run for town board were new state, county and town initiatives to address the East End’s declining water quality. Of the town’s new septic incentive law, he said, “I think it’s an important first step, but we need to look at sewage districts” that would require joint sewage treatment systems for subdivisions. “It’s expensive at the offset, but long term they will take more effluent out of the system.” Mr. Schiavoni says the town should take steps as simple as adding additional catch basins on roads to capture more of the fertilizers running off lawns and farm fields.
Mr. Schiavoni said he would also like to see additional efforts directed at replenishing wild populations of oysters, which filter large amounts of water, and restoring eel grass beds to provide habitat for scallops.
Combatting tick-borne illnesses is another of Mr. Schiavoni’s interests. He said he believes the state and county are looking for towns to take a leadership role in combatting the health epidemic. He would like to see the sponsoring scientific studies into ways to reduce the number of ticks without simply spraying more harmful chemicals on lawns and gardens — chemicals which eventually find their way into the bay.
Finally, Mr. Schiavoni said he supported a proposal put forth by Mr. Schneiderman to allow a limited number of accessory apartments in each school district as well as the establishment of housing funds that would help first-time buyers finance their homes with the stipulation that the fund share proportionately in any profit from the future sale.