Larocca and Gardella To Seek Election to Board of Trustees

Thomas Gardella, second from left, at a debate last year at the John Jermain Memorial Library, will seek to join Mayor Sandra Schroeder, Ken O'Donnell and Aidan Corish on the Sag Harbor Village Board.

Incumbent James Larocca and former Sag Harbor Fire Department Chief Thomas Gardella will run a joint campaign under the Windmill Party banner for seats on the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees this spring, with incumbent Trustee Robby Stein deciding not to seek a fifth term on the board.

The deadline to file petitions with village clerk Beth Kamper is May 15. Village elections will be held on June 19.

Mr. Stein, a child psychoanalyst and family therapist for the last 40 years, practicing in Manhattan and Sag Harbor, was appointed to the board in 2009 by Mayor Brian Gilbride. He was elected to the board in 2010 and reelected in 2012, 2014 and 2016. In 2015, he ran an unsuccessful campaign for mayor against Sandra Schroeder.

“I am not going to disappear,” said Mr. Stein on Tuesday. “I would like to do a lot more to raise awareness about emergency management issues, and I have told the board I will stay on to help take care of the grant application process.”

Mr. Stein, a member of the non-profit Sag Harbor Cinema executive committee, said he wants to focus on that project, as well as a book, “On Service,” and exploring how development can be harnessed to support individuals on the autism spectrum.

Mr. Larocca has dedicated his life to public service, and said on Tuesday he was seeking his second elected term because he enjoys the job, and hopes to see the proposed John Steinbeck Waterfront Park come to fruition during his tenure on the board. A U.S. Naval officer, Mr. Lacrocca worked under four New York governors before becoming state transportation commissioner under Governor Mario Cuomo and serving on the board of the Long Island Power Authority and as dean of Southampton College, among other positions, before retiring as the commissioner of the New York State Public Service Commission in 2013. He briefly served on the village’s planning board before Ms. Schroeder tapped him to fill her trustee seat in 2015 after being elected mayor.

In addition to continuing to pursue the creation of the waterfront park next to the Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge, Mr. Larocca said ensuring the health of the waterfront and Havens Beach is another priority.

“I have saltwater flowing through my veins and those are issues I am passionate about,” he said. “I have a belief we have to continue to address issues at and protect Havens Beach. Protecting our waterfront is also protecting our economy, and, for me, the Steinbeck park is a big part of protecting the waterfront. I don’t want to see that property go anywhere but to a public use.”

This is the second time Mr. Gardella, a former Sag Harbor Fire Department chief and the Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus Sag Harbor Council 584, is seeking public office. In 2017, he narrowly lost a race for a seat on the village board to Aidan Corish by just five votes. Approached by Mr. Larocca to run as a team, Mr. Gardella — who owns T. Gardella Plumbing and Heating — said he chose to run again out of a desire to work with a public servant like Mr. Larocca and to serve the community he has called home since 1986.

“To work with Jim would be an honor and I want to continue to serve the village and help better where we live,” said Mr. Gardella, who is currently training to become a critical care EMT for the Sag Harbor Ambulance Corps. “We have a lot of issues we need to face, and I think I have a good track record of being able to do that.”

Like Mr. Larocca, protecting the waterfront is chief among Mr. Gardella’s priorities, as is seeing the waterfront park completed. “In order to keep Sag Harbor, Sag Harbor, we have to maintain our waterfront, and improve it, so it can be in pristine condition,” he said. “The opportunity we have with the real estate for the park is a tremendous opportunity.”

“The other issue that concerns me is we seem to be losing our young people,” he added. Mr. Gardella has six children, one who has moved to western Long Island. “It’s not particular to Sag Harbor but all of Long Island because of the high cost of living. Anything we can do to protect and help our younger people and allow them to stay here we have to look at.”

“I think we also have to be better neighbors to each other,” said Mr. Gardella.

In North Haven

In North Haven, only incumbent Mayor Jeff Sander and Trustees Diane Skilbred and David Saskas have picked up petitions for village office, according to village clerk Ed Deyermond.

The first day to file petitions is May 8 and the last day is May 15. Petitions can be picked up until that last day and must contain the valid signatures of 50 registered voters living in North Haven Village.

The North Haven election is June 19 with voting taking place at village hall on Route 114.