Race for Davis’s Seat in North Haven Village is Contested

The North Haven Village Board on March 10: Deputy clerk Ed Deyermond; Trustee Dianne Skilbred; Mayor Jeff Sander; Trustees David Saskas.

Two candidates are vying for one Village Board seat while three are running unopposed in the North Haven municipal election slated for Tuesday, September 15.

In the village’s first contested election since 2013, when Mary Whelan ran for one of two trustee seats and lost to James Laspesa and Jeff Sander, Terie Diat is running for the one year remaining of the trustee post held by Chris Fiore.

Mr. Fiore, who is also seeking election, was named by Mayor Jeff Sander and appointed by the Village Board in April to fill the vacancy left by the death of Trustee James Davis in February. Ms. Diat specifically chose to run for that seat when she filed her nominating petition this summer.

Both candidates are retired business executives with a decades-long connection to the village. Mr. Fiore is running as a candidate on Mayor Sander’s North Haven Party ticket and Ms. Diat is running on the Community Vision Party line.

Whichever candidate wins will have to seek reelection in 2021, when Mr. Davis’s two-year term will expire. Terms normally expire in July, and the village vote was to have been held the same month, but it was postponed — and the affected board terms extended — by Governor Andrew Cuomo because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor Jeff Sander, first elected a trustee in 2007 and mayor in 2014, after having been appointed by the Village Board in 2013 after Laura Nolan resigned from the post, is running unopposed for re-election to a two-year term. So are Trustees Dianne Skilbred, who was first elected in 2010, and David Saskas, elected in 2014. They and Mr. Fiore are all on the North Haven Party ticket.

Voting will be from noon to 9 p.m. in Village Hall. Masks will be required. Friday, September 4, is the last day to register for the village vote; forms are available in Village Hall and on the Suffolk County Board of Elections website.

September 8 is the last day applications will be accepted at Village Hall for absentee ballots that have to be mailed to the voter. They are also available in person at Village Hall and on the village website, northhavenny.us. September 14 is the last day absentee ballots will be given out in person. The ballots must be returned to Village Hall no later than 9 p.m. on Tuesday, September 15.

Sketches of the candidates appear below based on their written answers to the same emailed questions.

Terie Diat
Candidate for Trustee

Terie Diat, 59, grew up on the North Shore of Massachusetts and has been a resident of North Haven Manor for 30 years, ever since she met and married her husband, Jon, a lifelong resident.

Terie Diat

She is a graduate of Westfield State College, with a degree in business management, and Bentley College, with a master’s in accountancy. She is a certified public accountant in New York.

She retired in 2019 after a 37-year career as a finance executive at Colgate-Palmolive, for which she managed “the integration of acquired companies, multi-billion-dollar budgets, complex projects, international teams of people,” and “served as the interim CFO of a $60-million company,” she wrote.

She co-founded the International Colgate Women’s Network, volunteered as a mentor for the Women’s Unlimited organization and was a reading buddy for elementary public school children in New York City.

She enjoys fishing, boating, lobstering, scalloping and the beaches. Treasurer of the board of directors of the co-op where she and Jon lived in New York, she has served on the North Haven Manor board of directors for three years and is its secretary.

“I believe in getting involved, volunteering and giving back by contributing my time and knowledge to help others,” she wrote.

As goals, she listed improving communication, open discussion and transparency; enhancing community involvement and engagement; preserving and protecting North Haven and allowing residents to enjoy their properties; and investigating how to improve cellular service.

She also wants to improve the village’s website and increase the village’s use of social media to “proactively communicate village information and decisions out to the community.”

She supports the preservation of open space, including the Lovelady Powell parcel; a shoreline protection and preservation policy “that balances the concerns of both the environment and homeowners”; revisiting “property policies to ensure balance and appropriateness for village character and homeowner flexibility”; and wants to see a cell tower built on North Haven.

Chris Fiore
Incumbent Trustee

Raised in Uniondale, and a graduate of Chaminade High School and the University of Dayton, Chris Fiore, 73, has been a North Haven resident for 30 years. He became a full-time resident in 2016 when he retired after a 44-year career in retail.

Chris Fiore

He worked in management positions for Lord & Taylor, Gap, Banana Republic, Coach, American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) and Henri Bendel, overseeing international operations for Gap and AEO, including a role in London for Gap.

He has two daughters and two granddaughters and lives on Sunset Beach Road with his wife, Rebecca Metz Fiore, a retail recruiter.

He is a board member of Ubuntu Life, a women’s empowerment and child development charity in Kenya that sells beaded bracelets, espadrilles and accessories on its website. He loves photography, gardening, biking, boating, and vintage vehicles.

Appointed to the board in April, he wrote that he is focused “on the preservation of open space, and keeping intact the natural beauty of our village, our waters, and our quality of life”; and the “improvement of our codes, regulations and permissions, with fairness to all homeowners, big and small.”

He favors “clarification of the ‘clearing rules,’ enforcement of our rental guidelines, and a fresh look at noise abatement,” and wrote that he supports the preservation of the Lovelady Powell property and the establishment of walking paths connecting Sunset Beach Road with Ferry Road at the old cemetery to “create a dramatic natural space that can be enjoyed by all residents for years to come.”

“We should be conscious of expense — especially now —maintaining our tax rates where at all possible,” he added.

Improving cell service is another priority.

Jeff Sander
Incumbent Mayor

Jeff Sander, 78, grew up in Queens and has been a full-time resident of North Haven for 20 years after having summered in the Sag Harbor area all his life.

He retired in 2000 after a long career in executive positions at IBM, AT&T and Lucent Technologies.

Jeff Sander

Active in many community endeavors, he initiated the development and construction of the Community Boat Shop on Bluff Road in Amagansett as president of the East End Classic Boat Society. The shop provides educational programs in wooden boat building and restoration skills.

A member of the Sag Harbor Yacht Club and — with his wife Mala, a broker at The Corcoran Group real estate — an active supporter of the Bay Street Theatre, he also was instrumental in launching and managing the Sag Harbor Charity Cup Challenge, an annual sailing event that has raised more than $150,000 for local charities.

During his tenure on the board, he noted that the village has implemented a successful program to reduce the tick population and tick-borne illness by deploying 4-poster feeding stations in the summer months and reducing the deer population in the winter.

It also adopted code changes and policies, he wrote, to regulate dock construction, manage shoreline hardening and protection and mandate the installation of wastewater treatment systems to reduce nitrogen flow and protect the Peconic Bay system and other local waters.

He wrote that his priorities as mayor are to protect the waters of the Peconic Estuary “and address critical drainage areas in our village; use all available resources to preserve vacant land as preserved open space; and continue to manage the village in a balanced, economically, and environmentally sound manner” that has “consistently maintained low tax rates.”

David Saskas
Incumbent Trustee

David Saskas, 60, grew up in Springs, went to East Hampton High School, and Paul Smith’s College, where he studied forestry and surveying. He started his own land surveying business here in 1992.

David Saskas

His wife, Heather, grew up in Montauk. They have two children, Darby, 20, and Bryan, 17.
“After being hired to work in North Haven Point in 1996, I fell in love with the area and moved there in 1999, after building our home,” he wrote.

Mr. Saskas enjoys boating and working on his golf game. For many years, he was on the board of the North Haven Point Homeowners Association, “which I enjoyed but felt it was important to give back to the whole community” by running for a village-wide post, he explained.

“Because of my extensive knowledge of the area through my work, I am in a unique position to advise on land use and zoning. In my position as trustee, I am focused on clarifying the zoning code so that there is little or no room for misinterpretations. I feel I have the ability to listen to different points of view and do not have a personal agenda. I think that people see me as someone they can trust to be fair in any given situation. As a re-elected trustee, I would like to continue the good work that the village is doing.”

Dianne Skilbred
Incumbent Trustee

A registered nurse, Dianne Skilbred’s career included working as head nurse in the ambulatory surgical department at Mountainside Hospital in Montclair , New Jersey. A Garden State native, she moved to the East End for nursing work in the 1970s “because I loved it here,” she wrote.

Dianne Skilbred

She and her husband, the late orthopedic surgeon L. Arne Skilbred, built their home in North Haven in 1980, raised their children there, and now “my grandchildren are growing up here as well,” she wrote.

Ms. Skilbred has been active in community service for 30 years, including her work as a member of the Citizen’s Task Force for traffic calming that brought the roundabout and bike lanes on Route 114 to North Haven.

As a member of the village’s Architectural Review Board for 16 years, and its chairman for six, she was instrumental in drafting the Floor Area Ratio law, which has helped to maintain the character of our village, she said.

A trustee since 2010 and deputy mayor for nine years, Ms. Skilbred is the board’s roads liaison and its representative to the Peconic Estuary Protection Committee.

“I am proud of the new nautical playground I was instrumental in getting built to replace our out-of-date playground, without spending any tax dollars,” she wrote. “We’ve added pickleball, tennis lessons for our children, and a Little Free Library, creating a well loved and popular community center.”

She said she is looking forward to the upcoming relocation of the village’s historic one-room schoolhouse, now at the corner of Route 114 and Payne Avenue, to the Village Hall and playground site, an effort that she spearheaded for the board to bring “it back to life as part of our community,” she wrote.

“Preserving the character of our village, protecting our waters and protecting our environmentally sensitive area is what matters to me,” she added.