The Democrats running for Town Board, and in particular candidate Mary Eisenstein, have made a point this election season of suggesting there’s a need for party balance on a board that currently features four Republicans and one Conservative.
“Break one-party thinking,” reads a recent ad purchased by Ms. Eisenstein, who is endorsed by the Democratic and Working Families parties but is not registered with a party.
It’s a fair election season play in a year that saw the Town Board’s only elected Democrat leave for the county Legislature and be replaced by Conservative Jim Dinizio.
The difficulty of running a campaign based on a perceived need for party balance is that the challenging candidates need to effectively illustrate what they would do differently or better. It also helps if the voting public already sees a one-sided board as a problem.
We’re not convinced that the people of Southold Town view the current Town Board in a negative way. Both Ms. Eisenstein and running mate Ron Rothman have publicly praised current town Supervisor Scott Russell throughout their campaigns. Neither has done much in the way of bringing new ideas to the forefront over the past several months. Instead, the mantra has been, “Vote for me; I’m not a Republican.”
The truth is, most Southold Town residents have been satisfied with the work of the Republicans on the Town Board, which has been proven over the past several election cycles. No Democrat not named Krupski has been elected councilman in Southold Town since 2005. In the most recent town election, in 2011, Republican council candidates secured 64 percent of the vote.
The current Town Board has been fiscally responsible and strict on winery regulations, event laws and public safety initiatives. The bills passed in these areas, plus the zoning of Plum Island, will go a long way toward striking the balance between allowing inevitable changes in Southold Town and maintaining the quality of life that has always made it so special. Southold is changing as the tourist economy grows, but the tough decisions the Town Board makes will ensure the town doesn’t become a completely different place.
In his short time on the board, and during this campaign season, Mr. Dinizio, who has previously served on the Zoning Board of Appeals and several town committees, has touted his knowledge of the town code. He’s also been an outspoken critic of Vineyard 48 in Cutchogue, which has been ticketed frequently for violating occupancy laws.
“This establishment breaks the law every week,” Mr. Dinizio said during a recent Suffolk Times debate. “That is a safety problem.”
Mr. Rothman, a lifelong town resident and the current owner of Rothman’s Department Store in Southold, appealed to local voters and business owners during the campaign season by questioning the need for some of the recent regulations.
He said during the recent debate that the town should have enforced the laws already on the books rather than passing new regulations to restrict all the town’s agricultural businesses.
“It’s overkill for the problem,” Mr. Rothman said. “I’m for agriculture and promoting the businesses that are zoned for the area. It is a good-neighbor policy.”
But we need a Town Board that’s willing to take action against neighbors if they’re acting out of line — and Mr. Dinizio and Mr. Ghosio made a stronger case for that this campaign season.
A current town Trustee with a reputation as a hard worker, Mr. Ghosio showed he’s the most knowledgeable of the three challengers when it comes to town issues. We hope he uses his prior experience as a Trustee to be a voice on the environmental and preservation issues that are so important to the residents of this town.
Ms. Eisenstein and Mr. Rothman would have been better served to focus more on issues other than the Town Board’s political makeup. Perhaps Mr. Ghosio said it best during his closing statement at the debate, when he suggested the balance most residents care about is balancing the town’s checkbook.