Sag Harbor has always been a community of differing views and a population that loves hashing disparities out in public and private ways. When it comes to village elections, however, it has been the better part of a decade since we have seen a race this contested.
Eight candidates are fighting for the mayors seat and two trustee positions on the Sag Harbor Village Board.
Perhaps it’s a sign of the times.
It is clear our village is in the midst of tremendous transformation. While luxury condominiums rise, our water quality is increasingly questionable and we celebrate the upswing in the economy while bemoaning the very real fact that it is becoming more difficult to live on the South Fork, let along Sag Harbor, if you make below six figures a year.
What is pleasing, and not surprising, is we have eight qualified, passionate candidates volunteering to serve on a board that will have very difficult tasks ahead of it. Police contracts, waterfront development, water quality, flooding and maintenance of village services are just some of the issues we believe the board will face over the course of the next two years.
Incumbent Mayor Brian Gilbride has been criticized and behind the scenes occasionally demonized for holding a firm, if sometimes stubborn, line when it comes to the police budget during what is beyond a contentious contract negotiation between the Sag Harbor Police Benevolent Association (PBA) and the village.
We have found some of that criticism heavy handed, in all honesty. Mayor Gilbride has never made any secret of the fact he is a fiscal conservative. The cost of police services are rising at a rate worthy of note. While we would have preferred to see positions cut through attrition rather than lay-offs and agree negotiations have become largely about personalities — on both sides of the table — to say Mayor Gilbride has been an ineffective mayor is simply not true. He has accomplished a number of initiatives in two terms, including the remediation of Havens Beach, a project 27 years in the making.
Both former mayor Pierce Hance and former village clerk Sandra Schroeder are also candidates residents should be happy to see on a ballot. Hance has sharp, fiscally minded, ideology while also understanding increasing services can sometimes be a financial benefit rather than a downfall. To say Schroeder carries institutional knowledge and understanding of Sag Harbor government would be an understatement. Her command of the Municipal Building was legendary.
But it was Bruce Tait, emerging largely out of the shadows, who we feel not only proved a knowledgeable, well-spoken candidate, but also truly passionate at crafting a long-term vision for Sag Harbor’s future, particularly on its waterfront.
Tait is willing to take a long-view approach to planning in Sag Harbor, a quality we believe is critical in our next mayor, who will have to lead the village through a tremendous amount of development pressure without the benefit of a fully staffed planning department.
That is why he earns our endorsement for mayor.
Selecting two trustees proved just as difficult a choice. Ultimately, Ed Deyermond carries the kind of government experience impossible to ignore and earns our endorsement for that reason alone. Incumbent Ed Gregory, a long-term member of the board, has been a great asset, but ultimately we feel having a Main Street, Sag Harbor business owner would bring diversity to the board that can do nothing but aid it moving forward. That is why Ken O’Donnell earns our second endorsement for trustee.
In North Haven, we endorse incumbent Jeff Sander and his running mate Arthur James Laspesa for election to the North Haven Village Board. Ultimately, we feel Sander’s experience as an incumbent board member and Laspesa’s planning experience is what the board needs moving forward.
That being said, Mary Whelan proved herself passionate about North Haven issues and we would encourage her to consider volunteering for one of the other village boards.