by Annette Hinkle
It’s not just fall that’s in the air these days…it’s also politics. With several races to be decided at the polls in early November, the Noyac Civic Council has been hosting candidates for local office at its meetings in the last two months.
On Tuesday at the Old Schoolhouse, residents heard from candidates for Southampton Town Supervisor and Superintendent of Highways. The evening was not a debate, but rather an opportunity for candidates to introduce themselves, share their experience and make the case for why they deserve residents’ votes.
First up was Linda Kabot, a former Southampton supervisor and councilwoman who is running for supervisor again, this time on the Republican and Conservative and Southampton Now party lines. She touted her record of accomplishment during her 12 years in Southampton Town Hall at both the legislative and executive level.
“I would be an honor to serve again,” said Kabot whose running mates include town council candidates Jeff Mansfield and Stan Glinka. “I’m running on a platform of trust, courage, dedication, teamwork and a vision of the future and my years of experience.”
Kabot focused on finances and stated that she put the town in a better place financially during her tenure as supervisor.
“When the state comptroller reviewed the town’s 2008 and 2009 finances and the 2010 recovery plan, he said that I put the town, with my administrators, on solid financial footing,” said Kabot. “Moody’s Bond Rating analysis cited us for transparent financial management and said future ratings would be contingent on the 2010 plan. So I’m proud of that and stand by those statements.”
Going forward, Kabot said among her top priorities were fiscal responsibility, code enforcement, protection of the environment and bolstering of the economy.
“It may not be a top issue in Noyac, you may have more helicopter and traffic issues, but in Flanders, Hampton Bays and North Sea, there is overcrowding and quality of life concerns,” said Kabot expounding on code enforcement. “We need to look at how to have quality of life community based hearings and act as a quality of life court.”
Noyac resident John Anderson asked about water quality and how, if elected, Kabot would work with the town trustees to improve it.
“In Noyac we’ve done a lot of land preservation and up zoning,” said Kabot. “We need to continue to address water quality. The nitrogen loading is a key issue that needs to be addressed. It’s coming from all our septic systems. The trustees would like to see a better working relationship with town board. It’s critical we continue to respect their authority and work with them.”
“We have to work with the trustees to reduce nitrogen loading,” she added. “Five years ago we didn’t even talk about that. We also believe storm water runoff has a huge effect and need to work on that.”
Current Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst is running on the Democratic, Independence and Working Families line. In her presentation, she focused on financial issues she has addressed during her six years in town government, first as a councilwoman and then as supervisor.
“The state of our town finances are excellent,” said Throne-Holst. “In the last four years we have regained our healthy footing and recovered our stellar credit rating, which when I was elected had been downgraded and we were put on credit watch due to overspending and over borrowing that had arisen in the financial management department.”
Throne-Holst cited her experience in business management as being key to “righting the fiscal ship” in Southampton during her tenure.
“We underwent 11 audits in the first two years I was supervisor,” she said. “They revealed some serious history of mismanagement in our accounting.”
“My predecessor was borrowing in double digits without managing the process,” said Throne-Holst of Kabot. “I’m happy to say three and a half years later, we have managed that relationship with those agencies [Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s], we’ve had two upgrades and are back at AA+ rating.”
“Minding the bottom line is my training, background and passion,” she said.
The issue of helicopter noise was raised by way of a proposal put forth this summer by Senator Chuck Schumer and Congressman Tim Bishop which would require helicopters to fly over the water to Orient Point before turning toward East Hampton airport. Throne-Holst was asked if she would support the plan and help push the FAA to mandate it.
“The answer is yes,” she said. “There’s no one who lives in Noyac who isn’t aware of how difficult this issue has been. We managed to get the helicopter association and all levels of government and the manager of East Hampton airport working with us on a voluntary basis. I think I have led by example there.”
Current Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor recounted the number of storms his department has had to contend with in the past four years — from blizzards and massive rain storms to tropical storm Irene and superstorm Sandy — and explained how he and his crew coped with the massive clean up efforts.
But in Noyac, Gregor couldn’t avoid the topic of Noyac Road for long.
“Noyac Road is no longer a sleepy road,” said Gregor. “People go fast. It used to be 45 mph, the speed limit has been dropped to 35 or 30, but the road hasn’t changed. People still go fast.”
Gregor noted that using the town’s radar machine, over the summer drivers were clocked east of dead man’s curve going as fast as 71 mph with average speed of 40 to 50. He added that center pylons placed on Noyac Road to slow traffic helped the situation.
But some residents would like to see stop signs or speed humps installed on the road.
“The state doesn’t believe you should use stop signs to regulate speed. You get more rear end collisions and people speed up to make up time,” said Gregor who added that sped humps are only permitted on roads where speed limits are 25 mph or less.
“Noyac Road is a minor arterial route. It’s a lot of traffic, about 10,000 vehicles a day east and west,” added Gregor who believes police enforcement is crucial. “Nothing is better than getting a ticket.”
David Betts is challenging Gregor for highway superintendent and currently runs the code enforcement department at Southampton Town and believes the highway department could be run more efficiently.
“I’m a fairly efficient manager,” said Betts. “I have experience in general administration and grant writing.”
Betts added he has concerns about the highway department’s current budget and if elected, said he would set out to address many of those concerns.
“A lot of money is bonded, you pay interest on it,” said Betts. “There is $6.5 million in money borrowed where projects have not been finished. This year the rollover is $2.5 million. I’m assuming tax payers are paying on millions of dollars not being utilized that we borrowed for projects.”
“I’m not going to guess why they have not been completed, but I have a little issue with that,” he said.
When asked how to relieve traffic on Noyac Road, Betts advocated for a complete safety audit on the road.
“We would go through the entire road and try to figure out what the issues are,” said Betts. “There’s the speed issue, and we can get some of those speed cameras, but you’re supposed to move them. We have to take care of that.”
“Police have tried to reduce speeding traffic, but man power is expensive,” he said. “That’s why they have to move the cameras.”