Village voters will decide whether to keep lifelong Sag Harbor resident and longtime village hall insider, Mayor Sandra Schroeder, in office for a third two-year term or turn her job over to Kathleen Mulcahy, a former corporate executive and a first-time candidate, when they go to the Brick Kiln Road firehouse to cast their ballots between 2 noon and 9 p.m. this Tuesday, June 18.
Voters also will choose among four candidates to fill two trustee seats and weigh incumbent Lisa R. Rana’s uncontested bid for another two-year term as village justice. One of the candidates, Silas Marder, did not attend a June 1 meet the candidate forum and has not responded to multiple phone calls from the Express.
At the poll, residents will be asked to “yes” or “no” on a proposition to raise the award for veteran ambulance volunteers from $20 to $30 a month for each year of service earned after 2019. The rate will remain $20 a month for each year served before 2019 and after 1996, when the service-award program was first approved by voters.
If approved, the amendment will go into effect January 1, 2020. According to a resolution about the referendum vote, the annual cost of the current program is about $65,000 or $1,760 per participant, which includes an administrative cost of $3,700 annually. The annual cost of the amended program, if approved by voters next Tuesday, is estimated at $75,000, or $1,790 per participant, with no anticipated increase in administrative expenses.
At the only public forum that featured all of the candidates, Mayor Schroeder said she looked forward to getting more projects done to protect the environment, especially to control storm water runoff. She listed the rehabilitation of Long Wharf, including a system to prevent its road runoff from reaching the bay; planning for the expansion of the village sewer district, and finding a way to recycle the treated effluent from the sewage treatment plant, perhaps to irrigate the state-owned Sag Harbor golf course.
Ms. Mulcahy called for a new comprehensive plan, the hiring of a village administrator and an “open communications, collaboration and cooperation” in village government. “We must have a strong comprehensive plan for Sag Harbor with input and debate from our residents” and the villages stakeholders.
“We must find the funds to hire a village administrator who can act as a project manager,” she said, and promised to name an environmental commission “to spearhead solutions for the bay, the aquifer, the septic systems and the beaches.”
Brief profiles of the mayoral and trustee candidates follow, based in part on their opening and closing statements at the June 1 forum. No profile appears for Mr. Marder because an interview could not be arranged.
For Mayor: Sandra Schroeder
Elected in 2015 after having served a year as a village trustee, Sandra Schroeder, 62, ran for mayor unsuccessfully in 2013 after having worked many years in village hall, including as village clerk and village administrator. Having grown up in Sag Harbor, she remembers when everyone in Sag Harbor knew each other. “We’ve lost some of that and I’d like it back,” she said.
She said she takes satisfaction from helping people, such as going door to door to win support for property tax exemption for EMS volunteers and veterans and to help seniors with property tax paperwork.
“I have helped so many people and I am hoping to have the honor of another term of office by serving you all again,” she said at the forum, adding, “I love Sag Harbor.”
“I’ve served two terms as mayor and we’ve accomplished a lot in the past and for the future …,” she said.
She listed Havens Beach drainage improvements, a commitment to storm water runoff controls, Long Wharf repair and expansion of the sewer system among projects in the works under her administration, including possibly partnering with New York State to send treated sewage effluent to the golf course. She said electric car charging stations are another project in the works.
Mayor Schroeder is running on the Residents Party line on the ballot and garnered 61 signatures on her nominating petition.
For Mayor: Kathleen Mulcahy
A founder of the group Main Street Conversations, which has explored local issues at monthly gatherings and went into action to help get out the vote for Democratic congressional candidate Perry Gershon last November, Ms. Mulcahy, 60, formerly “did strategic planning at companies like PepsiCo and Verizon,” she said.
A summer visitor or East Hampton as a child, she moved to Sag Harbor in 1995 to raise her children, sending them both to the local school system. “Both of them thrived in very different ways and I thank Sag Harbor for that this community supported them and supported me all the way.”
“I love this village,” she added.
Strategic planning is a best practice in the business world and in government, she said, calling for “a strong comprehensive plan” after “input and debate” from all stakeholders. “Once finalized, this plan will be the guideline for our village boards and commissions to make decisions guiding our future.”
She also called for hiring a village administer to accomplish the goals of the plan, called “our bay and beaches” a key issue, and promised “open communication, open office hours,” and “meetings at more convenient times
She is running on the Horizon Party line on the ballot and collected 104 signatures on the nominating petition.
For Trustee: Aidan Corish
The only incumbent in the race to fill two trustee seats, Mr. Corish, 62, was the first person to sign Kathleen Mulcahy’s nominating petition for mayor and, like her, has called for a new comprehensive plan and the hiring of a village administrator.
A native if Dublin, he is an owner and chief operating officer of Tangram, which designs and builds trade show exhibits, booths, stands, exhibition spaces and retail environments and around the world. He has been a resident of Sag Harbor since 1995 and commutes to offices in Pleasantville, New York and Cannes, France.
The Village Board liaison to the sewage treatment plant, he has been spearheading a long-term plan to expand the area it serves in order to reduce groundwater pollution from residential septic systems that eventually pollute local bay waters.
The only Village Board opponent of the plan to build a police vehicle impound lot adjacent to the Long Pond Greenbelt, Mr. Corish also said he was against the decision under Mayor Schroeder to eliminate “public participation” from the beginning of Village Board meetings, leaving only one time period to discuss non-agenda items to the end of the monthly session.
He called agreeable dissent and debate a necessity for good government. Besides the sewage district expansion, he listed among his accomplishments and interests helping initiate water quality testing around the harbor; finding a use for the “gray water” effluent of the treatment plant; and the upgrading of the village website and the audio-visual system in the village meeting room. He oversees grant applications for the village and recently submitted one for upgrade the bathrooms at Marine Park on Bay Street
“I’ve demonstrated once I gathered facts and listened to opinions, I’m not afraid to make tough decisions no matter how difficult,” he said. He is running on the Sag Harbor United line and collected 68 signatures for his nominating petition.
For Trustee: Bob Plum
A builder and member of the village board of zoning appeals for four years, Mr. Plum, 68, has lived in Sag Harbor for 40 years and raised two children here. The environmental stresses on the community and its waterways are reaching a critical point, he said. His experience as a builder managing budgets larger than the village’s and coordinating “all the players in construction, the owners, the architects, suppliers …” is a process “like herding cats,” he said, adding it’s “an accurate description of local government as well.”
“I would bring this experience both financial and technical to the village board,” he said.
As a ZBA member, he said the panel has “passed on many suggestions to the [village] board for code clarifications” over the past four years and “not a single one has even gotten to the discussion stage. That is one reason I’m running for the board.” The mostly volunteer village government and emergency services personnel “need the support and coordination from the mayor’s office to remain vital and interested because it’s pretty demoralizing to not have your suggestions taken seriously.”
“My goals for the board are cohesive environmental water quality, open government” and a “willingness to discuss long-term planning.”
Mr. Plumb is running on the Red Dot Party line and collected 76 signatures for his nominating petition.
For Trustee: Jennifer Ponzini
After saying good morning to the audience at the June 1 candidate forum at the library and waiting for a response, Ms. Ponzini said, “This is the way I want this to be. I live here, I work here and I’m part of the community … I want you to come up to me; I want you to talk me. I want to hear your voices. I’m here for you.”
A licensed real estate broker in New York and Florida and lawyer, Ms. Ponzini, 42, is a past member of the zoning board of appeals, on which she served for five years. She also served as president of the Sag Harbor Elementary School PTA and helped out at the school “in many ways,” she said.
She has three children in the school system here and her husband is a Sag Harbor fireman, a Navy veteran, former New York City police officer and past Sag Harbor Little League coach.
Ms. Ponzini graduated from college early and from St. John’s University School of Law at age 20, “So I’m committed to what I do, as you can see,” she said. “And I’m committed to resolving quality of life issues, preserving our historic integrity. I want to safeguard our natural resources for the residents, for the visitors, and for my children and for everyone else’s children, for the generations that are to come to the community.”
Ms. Ponzini is running on the Community Party line and collected 89 signatures for her nominating petition.
No Contest in North Haven
There will be no contested elections and no propositions on the ballot when North Haven residents vote at village hall on Ferry Road this Tuesday, June 18 from 12 noon to 9 p.m.
Trustees James Davis, 50, and James Laspesa, 71, are both seeking reelection to two-year terms without opposition.
Mr. Davis was named to fill a vacancy on the board in 2013 and won election for the remaining year of that term in 2014. He was reelected in 2015 and 2017. Previously a member and chairman of the village’s Architectural Review Board for seven years, he is a project manager for N. Zappola & Associates Inc. in East Hampton.
Ms. Laspesa was first elected in 2011 and is running for fifth term. An architect with his own firm, he was chairman of the village planning board from 1987 to 2011.
Justice Rana Seeks Third Two-Year Term
Sag Harbor Village Justice, Lisa R. Rana, will be the only candidate on the ballot in Tuesday‘s village election for the court position. She is running for her third, two-year term.
Also an East Hampton town justice, she had previously served as a backup judge for Sag Harbor, starting in 2010, when the Sag Harbor court was first established.
Justice Rana also is running for reelection to her town position in November on the Republican line and has mounted a primary against Democrat Andrew Strong to also appear on the Democratic Party line. That primary is scheduled for June 25. She has served as an East Hampton town justice since 2004.
Justice Rana, who grew up in Amagansett, worked as a foster care case worker in Westchester County. After graduating from law school, she became a legal guardian in family court for children who often were the victims of abuse.
She later became an administrative judge with the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission and eventually the commission’s chief of staff, which put her in charge of a staff of more than 400 employees.
After getting married, Judge Rana returned to the East End and opened her own law practice. When East Hampton Town Justice Roger Walker announced his retirement, she ran for and won his seat.
Sag Harbor’s associate village justice, Janine M. Rayano, holds an appointed position.