Written by Jill Nossa: firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 16 March 2012 00:00
As the contested election for the Village of Sea Cliff Board of Trustees draws near, residents have to weigh in on the three candidates vying for the two open positions. Tom Powell and Peter Hayes of the Civic Progress Party are seeking re-election, while Anthony Losquadro of the newly formed Property Owner’s Party is running for the first time. The village held a “Meet the Candidates” forum last week to give the candidates an opportunity to give their statements about their reasons for running for office as well as to give the public a chance to ask questions.
Candidate Tom Powell gave his opening statement first, highlighting the financial woes currently facing the village, and stating that the board has been “extremely cautious regarding fiscal matters” during his tenure and that, if he is re-elected, he feels they will continue to be responsible with the tax dollars of the village.
“Let me make it clear that we are making every effort and expect to stay below the 2 percent tax cap. However, I still must ask the question, should we be considered a responsible village government if we were to allow this law to tie our hands and possibly deny important services to the residents of Sea Cliff over an issue involving $40 per household? Our opponent’s supporters have stated that we should not go against the will of the governor of New York State. Let me point out that when one is sworn in to any office in the village one must promise to support the Constitutions of the United States and of New York State. This does not mean we must support the governor or the legislature in all of their policies.” He continued, “Personally, I find it difficult to admire a law as blatantly hypocritical as the Tax Cap Law. The state, in my opinion, has overstepped its authority in passing this law. Especially when, for decades, the Sea Cliff government has proven itself to be fiscally responsible beyond reproach. We have set an example that the state should attempt to follow.”
Powell noted that the issue of the tax levy cap has become a “red herring” that distracts the community from the main issue, which is “whether or not we and previous administrations have been responsible with your tax dollars. My answer to that is an emphatic yes and we will continue to do so with or without gimmicky legislation.”
Anthony Losquadro said that he has noticed a lot of changes in Sea Cliff in the 20 years he has been a resident; he said that in the past decade, taxes have gone up at a rate higher than anywhere else in Nassau County; the village has become more bureaucratic with the hiring of a building superintendent to enforce the village code, and attacked the Civic Progress Party by saying they make it more costly and time-consuming for residents to make changes to their own properties. Losquadro directed some of his opening statements at his opponent Peter Hayes.
Hayes began by saying, “I thought this was to meet the candidates…I didn’t realize I was such a bad guy…those of us who have been elected have been active in the community throughout our lives – you know us, we’ve been around and have earned your respect. The village runs on volunteers who have a desire to give back to the village. I will stand up for my record because I have nothing to hide.”
The public had an opportunity to ask questions of the candidates. While each of the candidates was given a chance to respond to every question posed, some of the questions were clearly directed at certain candidates. Some of the topics raised included the volunteerism of the candidates, the lawsuit that Losquadro brought against the village, which has not yet been resolved, and the number of meetings missed by Hayes.
Sea Cliff resident Joe Krupinski stated that the record shows Hayes missed 11 meetings during the previous year; Hayes explained that he had been out of work and took a new job that required him to travel a lot during 2011. He also noted that he had “probably missed 15 meetings in total” during the entire time he has served as a trustee. He said that he was actively involved via emails and phone calls.
Two people in the audience asked about the candidates’ volunteerism in the community. Powell noted that he was on the zoning board for a number of years, as well as having served on the beach committee, environmental committee and as a coach for his children’s sports teams. Hayes also said he had coached softball and basketball for his daughter, and worked on contracts with the DPW during the year he was not on the board. Losquadro noted he has not been a volunteer on any committee but that if he and his wife do have children he expects them to be involved in coaching them in any sports programs.
One person asked where the single biggest cut would need to be made. Losquadro replied he would seek to make cuts with code enforcement patrols and work to make the village codes less bureaucratic and less costly. Hayes noted that salaries and insurance were the biggest budget expenditures and was in agreement with Powell who said there is no single target but an across the board progress. “Everything has to be scrutinized,” he said.
Resident James Devries asked, “What are going to do to remedy the problem of how certain residents can skate, while others are persecuted, when it comes to code enforcement?”
Hayes said that he had never heard of an uneven application and enforcement problem but that if it were brought to his attention, he would enforce it. Powell noted that there are cases where people feel singled out and they write letters to the board, and some cases are discussed with a hearing. “We do respond to complaints.”
Mayor Bruce Kennedy asked the candidates how they anticipate working with him. The two current trustees stated that so far they have worked well together and do not anticipate any clashes. Losquadro responded, “I would look forward to working with you to make the village a better place.”