Editorial: Endorsements for Greenport Village

03/14/2013 8:00 AM |

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | The Suffolk Times endorses Mary Bess Phillips (left) and Julia Robins for the Greenport Village Board.

If Bill Swiskey is elected to the Greenport Village Board for a second time next week, we hope one of the television executives who calls the East End home in the summertime takes notice.

A reality series about the Greenport Village Board — with its artist mayor and his leather-jacket-wearing rival — would shake up the Nielsen ratings.

Every week people would tune in from afar to get a peek at just how crazy things can get when tempers flare in our little seaport village.

If The Suffolk Times were a television network, we might endorse Mr. Swiskey for that very reason. But we’re not.

[Related: Three candidates share their viewpoint on Greenport]

There’s no denying Mr. Swiskey is a bright guy who knows the ins and outs of the village. He’s persistent and a lot of his ideas — and his complaints — make sense. For example, we agree that part-time board members shouldn’t receive health benefits from the village. He’s also spot-on in suggesting Greenport could make better use of its website as a public information resource.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Bill Swiskey at Monday night’s debate.

If he only behaved a little differently, Mr. Swiskey might be a good choice in next Tuesday’s election. But the man is also a total loose cannon — the image of a cartoon character Matt Groenig might have thought up in his studio — who’s shown no ability or desire to work with others.

A five-member village board must be able to collaborate effectively. Dissenting voices are healthy, but not when they consistently fail to reach — or even attempt — any type of accord.

It will also be important for the new board to find a way to work well with the public, as daunting a task as that may be, given recent history.

Julia Robins, the other challenger looking to fill one of the board’s two open seats, touched on that issue during her campaign, when she said civil discourse has eroded under the current administration.

“I really would hope that everyone is treated with civility and respect,” she told The Suffolk Times. “That’s very important these days. That issue seems to come up a lot.”

We believe that Ms. Robins, a downtown realtor, has a calm demeanor that could be welcoming on the village board.

We agree when she says that metered parking downtown could create “a sense of bad will” and her appeal to approach the business community to find a solution for parking makes sense.

She seemed a tad overmatched in our debate next to the dominant personalities of Mr. Swiskey and incumbent Mary Bess Phillips, though. She’ll need to develop her voice to be an effective member of village government.

Ms. Phillips, meanwhile, should look to show more poise herself. So, too, should Mayor David Nyce, who could be seen in the audience sighing and rolling his eyes during our debate. Communication is a two-way street and the blame for all the animosity at Greenport Village does not fall exclusively on the dissenting public.

Ms. Phillips said she wants to continue working to make downtown active year round and focus on capital improvements. Projects like the wastewater treatment plant and roof repairs at the light plant lingered far too long. The time has come for a more modern and efficient village government, something that should be a priority for the new board.

We believe the hearts of Ms. Phillips and Ms. Robins are in the right place. They truly care about their village and we look forward to seeing them rise to the challenge of moving Greenport forward during difficult economic times.

There’s no doubt Mr. Swiskey cares about Greenport, too. But he seems more focused on conspiracy theories and personal revenge. We get that he’s playing the classic role of the candidate who doesn’t care what anyone thinks about him, but he’s so reckless in his approach he’d be more of a liability than an asset as a member of the board.

Mr. Swiskey is his own worst enemy and we couldn’t possibly suggest you give him your vote.

Vote for Phillips and Robins in Greenport Tuesday.