By Kathryn G. Menu
With village elections in both Sag Harbor and North Haven slated for June 21, both villages currently are looking at uncontested races, although with just less than two weeks before nominating petitions are due, it is possible a dark horse candidate could enter either race.
Sag Harbor Village previously reported a May 5 deadline for nominating petitions. But on Tuesday Sag Harbor Village Clerk Beth Kamper confirmed that the actual earliest date a candidate can file a petition is May 10. The deadline to file a petition is a week later, on Tuesday, May 17. This is true for North Haven as well.
In Sag Harbor, despite rumors about former village mayor Pierce Hance and former village board candidate Ryan Horn, Jr. throwing their hats into the ring, as of Tuesday afternoon only incumbent mayor Brian Gilbride, trustee Ed Gregory, trustee Tim Culver and village justice Andrea Schiavoni had picked up petitions for re-election under the Sag Harbor Party banner.
Similarly, in North Haven Village, incumbent trustees Jim Smyth and Jeff Sander — on the North Haven Party ticket — are the only candidates to pick up petitions to run for election. There is no mayoral race in that village this year.
In other election news, the East Hampton Town Republican Committee announced this week that it has nominated Jill Massa for Town Assessor and Lisa Rana — the acting village justice in Sag Harbor — for town justice.
The remainder of the Republican Committee nominees will be announced after the May 11 nominating convention. The East Hampton Democratic Committee will convene its nominating convention on May 16.
Thiele Aims to Combat Gas Prices
New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. announced last week that he has co-sponsored two new bills in the state assembly to combat the rising cost of gas on Long Island as prices have soared locally to over $4.50 at some stations.
In the short term, Thiele has introduced legislation that would suspend three different state taxes on motor fuel during the four-day Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends.
The three taxes are an $0.08 cent excise tax, a 4.25 percent sales tax above $2 per gallon and the $0.17 cent petroleum business tax. According to Thiele, these taxes currently cost motorists about $0.34 cents per gallon, which at $5 per galloon could save motorists about $0.38 cents a gallon or about $5.70 on a 15-gallon fill-up.
According to Thiele, New York State currently ranks sixth in the nation for gas prices at an average of $4.07 and is second only to Connecticut on the Northeast.
“The Eastern Long Island economy is highly dependent on tourism and vacation homes,” said Thiele. “Nearly 60 percent of homes east of the Shinnecock Canal are vacation homes. Small businesses in our region generate a disproportionate amount of their revenues during these holiday periods.”
“This legislation would not only make it more affordable to get here, it would make the region more attractive than many other states in the Northeast for vacations,” continued Thiele. “This is a win-win-win for motorists, small business, and the state, which will more than make up for the loss of gas tax revenue through increased sales tax revenue from shopping, restaurants, hotels, and more.”
While the short-term solution is helpful to motorists, Thiele said this week it is imperative the state do more.
“While motorists need short-term relief, in the long run it is imperative the state reduce its dependence on expensive foreign fossil fuels,” he said. “Since the 1970’s, we have pledged action to pursue alternative energy, only to revert back to gas guzzling ways after the crisis has passed. This time must be different.”
The second bill Thiele has introduced would create an “Alternative Fuel Incentive Fund.”
Currently, state sales tax on gasoline is capped so that there is no tax above $2 per gallon. Thiele’s bill would take the state sales tax from motor and diesel fuel priced between $1 and $2 per gallon and deposit it into a dedicated fund. That fund would then be used towards a personal income tax and corporate franchise tax credit equal to $500 for every hybrid or fuel flexible vehicle purchased. It would also provide a rebate for 30 percent of the cost to install an alternative fueling station or convert an existing gas station to allow for the sale of alternative fuels.
In addition, $30 million would go towards research and development of fuel diversification and energy efficiency and $27 million to provide the travel plazas on the New York State Thruway with fueling stations for alternative fuels.
“Investment in the research and development for alternative energy, creating green jobs, protecting the environment, and reducing dependence on foreign oil would all be enhanced by this fund,” said Thiele.
CR 39 Ceremony Set in Honor of Edwin “Buzz” Schwenk
On Friday, May 6 at 11 a.m. County Road 39 will be named in memory of Southampton businessman Edwin M. “Buzz” Schwenk in a public dedication ceremony organized by Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman.
The ceremony will be held at the intersection of County Road 39 and the northwest corner of David White’s Lane in Southampton.
Schwenk passed away on December 17, 2009 at the age of 86.
A Southampton native, Schwenk was not just a businessman, but an accomplished military officer who took on civic causes during the course of his life. He was involved in the creation of the 1993 Long Island Pine Barrens Protection Act and helped bring about the passage of the Peconic Bay Region Community Preservation Fund.
In November of 2010, Schneiderman introduced legislation to name County Road 39 in Schwenk’s memory. His legislation followed a July veto by then-Governor David Paterson of a measure sponsored by State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and State Senator Ken LaValle. That measure would have renamed 154 acres of state land north of the Francis Gabreski Airport in Westhampton the “Edwin M. Schwenk Memorial Nature Preserve.” The legislation was vetoed because only the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation had jurisdiction to rename the acreage.
In December of 2010, Schneiderman gained unanimous Suffolk County Legislature approval to rename County Road 39 in Schwenk’s memory — a tribute he said was fitting as Schwenk long fought for the expansion of the road.