Candidates running for federal, state and local offices answered Southold residents’ questions Wednesday afternoon during the Mattituck Chamber of Commerce’s “meet the candidates” luncheon at the Meetinghouse Creek Inn in Aquebogue.
Jeff Strong, president of Strong’s Marine in Mattituck, moderated the two-hour event where nearly 20 people gathered to listen to each candidate’s platform.
State Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) left after making an opening statement because he had another event to attend to this afternoon on Shelter Island. His Democratic challenger, Bridget Fleming of Noyac, was absent.
Below is an excerpt from a pair of questions asked.
Question to congressional and state candidates: Do you see the local economy getting better or worse and what are your plans to help improve it?
Congressional candidates’ answers:
Incumbent Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton): The local economy is struggling from what has been the deepest recession in our nation’s history other than the Great Depression. I think there are signs that we are recovering, but we have a long, long way to go. One of things I’m working on is trying to bring the federal government back to the table in terms of investing in local wastewater infrastructure. The second thing is dealing with environment issues. I think the environment is our economy and the economy is our environment.
Challenger Randy Altshuler (R-St. James): When you speak to people locally, there’s a lot of uncertainty in the air. It’s scaring the daylights out of everybody. You see it from unemployment rates going up over the past decade to people becoming underwater with their mortgages. Some local businesses are seeing a little bit of a pick-up, but a lot of them are saying it’s still doing pretty poorly. I think we need change and the only way I think that will happen is if we have more business people in office.
State Assembly candidates’ answers:
Incumbent Dan Losquadro (R-Shoreham): I don’t think the economy is doing very well at all. I think, in large part, that’s because of the burden that is placed upon businesses and residential taxes that drive up the overall cost of living. New York State spent $20 billion on Medicaid expenditures last year. We need to control spending in areas where people may not think relate to education funding. But if we save a billion dollars in Medicaid expenditures, that’s a billion dollars we can put back into education funding.
Challenger Nicholas Deegan (D-Mattituck): I think the local economy is starting on an upspring. The bigger thing out here is transportation. If we’re going to be able to sustain the agritourism and wine industries, then I think we have to deal with transportation very quickly so that by next summer we have a plan going into place. The roads can only handle so much. We need to get some of the traffic off the road.
Question to Town Trustee candidates: There are reports stating water quality is affected by stormwater runoff and septic systems. Do you agree and what’s your plan to improve water quality?
Town Trustees’ answers:
Trustee Mike Domino (R-Southold): All the trustees understand the importance mentioned about [water quality]. The problem is funding, as usual. You just don’t throw money at a problem. In many cases, there’s no need to change the [septic] systems we have now. The discussion now is being driven by a company that has a technology that they are pushing. It may or may not work. I’m not advocating a real quick jump on very costly systems. I would take a go-slow approach with something like that.
Challenger Jeri Woodhouse (D-Orient): I agree [stormwater runoff and septic systems] are contributing to what’s happening to our water. There’s a lot of new research that shows there are new kinds of septic systems that can be put in place. The problem is they’re very costly. I believe there’s funding available that can make it possible for people to purchase them. We should see if we can bring some of that money here because it’s vital to our economy to have clean water.
Check back on Election Day for full coverage.