In our 2013 endorsement of Mary Bess Phillips and Julia Robins for Greenport Village trustee, we wrote about communication. At the time, Village Board meetings had become a recurring showdown between a small group of residents and the board.
While much of the dissent was directed at the then-mayor and several appointed employees, Ms. Phillips was often caught in the crossfire.
In our endorsement, we wrote that “communication is a two-way street” and that the now-former mayor and Ms. Phillips needed to show more “poise” in the face of public rancor.
In the four years since, Ms. Phillips and others have opened up the lines of communication with the public. She even started a Facebook group called “Let’s Talk Village of Greenport,” which has become one of several online portals for residents to ask questions and debate issues facing the village. The trustee uses this page to engage with the public on a daily basis, sometimes having to answer difficult questions or play referee to residents with differing opinions.
The dynamic of the board has also changed fairly dramatically in the past four years, with former trustee George Hubbard Jr. now serving as mayor and two new trustees in Doug Roberts and Jack Martilotta. The new voices and change in roles has led to a healthy discourse among the board, too, and not just an “us versus them” dynamic with the residents at each meeting.
That’s not to say all is well in Greenport and that all its problems have been solved. The next Village Board will need to navigate the issue of seasonal parking, crumbling infrastructure and a handful of redevelopment projects that could exacerbate traffic issues near the ferry, to name a few.
But the current board, with its renewed focus on public outreach and more diverse set of opinions, should be better poised to represent the public than in years past. Ms. Phillips, the best choice in this election, should be afforded the opportunity to continue in a leadership role.
If you disagree with what’s been said in this editorial — and we’re certain there’s some who will — then challenger Paul Kreiling is the only logical vote for change. Mary Given, who’s also known around the village as Lucy Clarke, is on the ballot but hasn’t campaigned actively. She does not intend to serve.
Mr. Kreiling ran a strong local campaign. He’s vowed to be a man of action, working toward the creation of a master plan and proposing to hire a grant writer to increase revenues to the cash-strapped village. He’s also promised to be a leader on environmental issues.
He’s a likable candidate and a suitable vote for change.
But is more turnover on the board necessary at this point? We’re not convinced.
While we’d like to see Ms. Robins establish a bit more independence — she often echoes the voices and votes of Ms. Phillips and Mr. Hubbard — we do believe she’s earned a second term. She may be quiet, but she is a present public servant who operates with a level head. She seems to understand the history of the village and has a passion for service.
The Village of Greenport is in good hands.
Photos: Mary Bess Phillips, left, and Julia Robins. (Credit: Krysten Massa)