11/03/17 6:00am
11/03/2017 6:00 AM

Southold Town Assessor
Four-year term, two open seats
Salary: $76,707

Damon Peter Rallis

Occupation: Civil servant, Southold Town building department

Hamlet: Southold

Party lines: Democratic

About him: Mr. Rallis, 43, is a North Fork native and a 16-year employee of Southold Town. He lives in Southold with his wife, Joanna, and their two sons, Luca, 13, and Destin, 9. He is a Boy Scout Leader for Pack 51 and Troop 51 and a member of Peconic Lodge No. 349 of Free & Accepted Masons.

His pitch: Mr. Rallis said that as code enforcement officer and building plans examiner in the town building department he is the “only candidate who not only meets but exceeds the qualifications necessary to successfully perform the duties of Assessor and will be ready to hit the ground running on day one.” He said he is running with no special interests and no conflicts of interest. He points to his experience and “a verifiable record of a fair and balanced approach” to work with the people of Southold and enhance the Board of Assessors.

In his words: “A vote for me ensures success and stability in the Assessor’s office during this time of transition. I have always been there for the people of Southold and will continue to be if elected. I am proud to be endorsed by the LI Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, based on my commitment to the working families of Southold.”

Kevin Webster

Occupation: Southold Town Assessor

Hamlet: East Marion

Party lines: Republican, Conservative, Independence

About him: Mr. Webster, 47, is in his 12th year as a member of the town’s Board of Assessors and currently serves as its chairman. He is a NYS certified assessor with more than 25 years’ experience in the appraisal and assessment industry. He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Ithaca College and is a former licensed NYS real estate salesperson and, since 2001, licensed NYS residential appraiser. He is also a state-licensed Notary and belongs to the NYS Assessors’ Association and Suffolk County Assessors’ Association.

His pitch: After graduating from Ithaca College, Mr. Webster moved back to Orient and started working in the fall of 1992 in the assessment, appraisal and real estate field.  He said it was a natural fit for him based on his education and knowledge of the area. The town assessors’ job is administrative, he said. They keep the inventory of more than 18,000 parcels up to date based on changes either through additions to the property or demolitions. In the position, he’s handled changes in ownership, processing new and recurring STAR, firefighter, veterans and agricultural property tax exemptions. Assessors process the town assessment roll, which is used to compute the tax rates that are then applied to a bill for your school, library and fire district taxes, for example.

In his words: “When I was asked to run for my current position in 2005 it seemed like a natural fit based on my 13 years’ experience in this field.”

Charles J. Sanders

Occupation: Town Trustee, associate broker at Town & Country Realty; captain, 42nd Infantry Division, New York Army National Guard

Hamlet: Greenport

Party lines: Republican, Conservative, Independence

About him: Mr. Sanders, 49, has a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University, a Master of Arts degree from Stony Brook University and a Master of Arts degree in history from Norwich University.  He earned his real estate salesperson license in 1999 and his broker’s license in 2005. He has evaluated and sold properties from Laurel to Orient. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 and 2012 and to  Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2015.

His pitch: The job of assessor is a local government official who estimates the value of real property, Mr. Sanders said. He said he has estimated the value of real property from Laurel to Orient and has translated these estimates into concrete sales throughout the town. He also said he has extensive experience examining building plans and surveys as a Town Trustee for the past four years. “I have exceptional organizational skills as a result of over 18 years serving in the military,” he said.

In his words: “I look forward to hanging up my hat as a real estate professional while shifting these diverse skill-sets to the job of your next Southold Town Assessor. I ask for your vote this Nov. 7.”

01/31/15 10:00am
01/31/2015 10:00 AM
Charles Sanders (second from right) during his first tour in Afghanistan in 2010, when he was a 1st Lieutenant. (Credit: Courtesy photo)

Charles Sanders (second from right) during his first tour in Afghanistan in 2010, when he was a 1st Lieutenant. (Credit: Courtesy photo)

One of the town’s Trustees is getting ready for a deployment to Cuba next month, a mission that comes at a time when President Obama has renewed his push to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.

Southold Town’s five-member Board of Trustees, which is charged with administering activities along the town’s coastline and underwater lands near the coast, will serve with one less member during the nine-plus months Trustee Charles Sanders of Greenport is expected to be away.

Mr. Sanders, 46, a captain in the Army National Guard, will be stationed at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base as part of a team that will be running detainee operations, he said.

(more…)

01/03/14 7:00am
01/03/2014 7:00 AM

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Southold town council members James Dinizio (left) and Robert Ghosio at Thursday morning’s inauguration as highway superintendent Vincent Orlando looks on.

Newly elected Southold Town officials were sworn in last Thursday during an inauguration ceremony held at Town Hall.

Southold Supervisor Scott Russell greeted the newly elected officials, who took their oath of office led by Southold Justice Rudy Bruer.

Town Board members James Dinizio and the newly elected Robert Ghosio, formerly a town trustee, were among those sworn in. Mr. Ghozio said he was excited to get involved in issues beyond environmental sensitivity and wetlands.

“I think we have a few good issues this year,” Mr. Ghosio said. “Certainly we hope to resolve the issues with Vineyard 48, which seems to be moving along … and trying to start working towards a resolution to the problems that we have with the amount of deer that we have in town.

“It’s going to be a learning curve for sure. Even though I have been working in the town for seven years, now I get to learn about the other departments I never had anything to do with,” he added.

The Town Board will need to appoint a new trustee to replace Mr. Ghosio. A special election for the final year of the term will then be held in November, said Peter McGreevy. Mr. Russell said the Town Board could even appoint an interim trustee who would then step down to let all non-incumbents vie for the seat in the election.

Incumbent Republican trustees John Bredemeyer, Mike Domino and Charles Sanders were all sworn in, as was assessors Bob Scott and Kevin Webster.

Betty Neville was sworn in as town clerk, a position she has held since 1997.

Justice William Price was sworn in for his ninth term as Southold Town Justice. Fishers Island Justice Louisa Evans was also sworn in.

In a past interview, Mr. Price said this will be his last term serving as town judge.

Former councilman Vincent Orlando was sworn is as highway superintendent just in time for the impending snowstorm.

“I’m looking forward to getting the first snowstorm under my belt,” Mr. Orlando said.

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11/02/13 8:00am
11/02/2013 8:00 AM
KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Trustee candidates debate issues like water pollution and beach access during Tuesday's forum.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Town trustee candidates at last month’s debate.

TOWN TRUSTEE
Four-year term, three open seats
Salary: $18,344

John M. Bredemeyer III
Hamlet: Orient
Occupation: Incumbent Trustee, professional assistant at Suffolk Community College, retired county health department employee
Party lines: Republican, Conservative, Independence

About him: Mr. Bredemeyer, 62, lives with his wife in Orient, where they raised two children. He is a graduate of Cornell University and has more than 35 years’ experience in environmental monitoring, pollution assessment and public and environmental health enforcement. He formerly worked in the marine unit of the Suffolk County Health Department’s office of ecology. He has worked on numerous environmental initiatives, including building and running a collector for atmospheric nitrogen inputs to the Peconic Estuary. Mr. Bredemeyer was first elected in 1984 and presently chairs to the town’s shellfish advisory committee. He is also a volunteer firefighter.

His pitch: Mr. Bredemeyer believes his experience and education with environmental issues has given him the understanding to make valuable contributions to the Board of Trustees.

In his words: “Your vote for me insures that you, the voter-taxpayer, get a ‘dividend’ on the huge public investment you have already made in my education, training and professional career.”

Michael J. Domino
Hamlet: Southold
Occupation: Incumbent Trustee, real estate investor, retired science teacher
Party lines: Republican, Conservative, Independence

About him: Mr. Domino, 69, has been a Southold resident for the past 17 years. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biology as well as master’s degrees in engineering and education. He is a retired earth science teacher at Rocky Point High School and is currently CEO of Greenport Real Estate Investment LLC. Mr. Domino is a former U.S. Marine, past president of the North Fork Environmental Council and a 15-year member of the Southold Town Anti-Bias Task Force. Additionally, he is a former member of the Board of Trustees of the Suffolk County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Conservation, a certified DEC water sampler and a member of the Southold shellfish advisory committee. In 2012, he was appointed to fill the Town Trustee seat left vacant by current Town Board member Jill Doherty.

His pitch: Mr. Domino said that in his nearly two years on the board, he has placed community and environmental interests first, looking for ways to mitigate potential damage to the environment without compromising constituents’ property rights.

In his words: “As one of two incumbents seeking re-election to the Southold Town Board of Trustees, I possess a unique and balanced skill set that sets me apart from other candidates and makes me worthy of your vote.”

Joseph J. Finora Jr.
Hamlet: Laurel
Occupation: Independent businessperson
Party line: Democratic

About him: Mr. Finora, 53, lives in Laurel with his wife and children. He is a self-employed financial media-relations specialist and business writer. Previously a journalist, he has also written two business books and one novel. Five years ago, he establish the North Fork Ospreys baseball team in Peconic. He is a longtime volunteer youth baseball and basketball coach and recently raised money for new dugouts and modernizing the Mattituck High School baseball field. This is his first time running for public office.

His pitch: Mr. Finora said he believes in fairness, openness and helping neighbors. He said there is a need for greater balance in Southold’s government and looks forward to hearing and resolving the concerns of Southold Town residents.

In his words: “Most people around Southold know me due to my affiliation with sports. I’ve recently worked as an umpire learning to enforce rules and settle disputes. This is a great place to live and raise a family, but there’s much to be done. What we do today will affect how we live tomorrow in Southold Town.”

William C. Funke
Hamlet: Cutchogue
Occupation: Retired insurance manager
Party line: Democratic

About him: Mr. Funke, 66, retired to Cutchogue after living in New York, New Jersey, Florida and Germany. He is currently working toward earning a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s in environmental science. He spent more than 30 years insuring ships, cargoes and terminals. As a marine underwriter, he was part of the team implementing the Water Quality Improvement Act of 1970. He later went into software and hardware development for several small companies in New Jersey. This is his first time running for public office.

His pitch: Mr. Funke believes his experience as a marine underwriter taught him how government and the private sector can work together for a common goal. He said he wants to apply his skills to improve Southold’s waterways.

In his words: “The Sound and bay are unquestionably in a death spiral and I want to do what I can to help stop that.”

Charles J. Sanders
Hamlet: Greenport
Occupation: Associate broker, Town and Country Real Estate
Party lines: Republican, Conservative, Independence

About him: Mr. Sanders, 45, has lived on the North Fork since 1996. He worked at Hargrave Vineyard before beginning a career in real estate in 1999. He previously owned a real estate business and retail store. He is currently an associate broker at Town and Country in Southold. He joined the Air National Guard in 2008 and has served two tours in Afghanistan. This is his first run for public office.

His pitch: Mr. Sanders said he wants to contribute a balanced approach to the administration of Southold’s wetlands and the protection of a residents’ right to enjoy their property.

In his words: “My civilian and military experience has instilled in me a strong work ethic and extensive administrative and interpersonal skills that I pledge to bring to the job of Trustee.”

Geoffrey M. Wells
Hamlet: Southold
Occupation: Retired television IT specialist; writer
Party lines: Democratic, Working Families

About him: Mr. Wells, 60, retired to Southold in 2013 with his wife. He grew up on a farm in South Africa before immigrating to the United States in 1980 and beginning his career in information technology. Mr. Wells was vice president of television information technology at Disney, ABC and Fox. In those roles he was responsible for creating and managing three new IT departments, implementing sales and creating and staffing a new East Coast data center. Mr. Wells is currently working full time on his second novel. His first, “A Fado for the River,” was published in 2012. This is Mr. Wells’ first run for public office.

His pitch: Mr. Wells believes his experience in communication and problem solving in the corporate world will be an asset to the Town Trustees. He said he would seek win-win outcomes and work toward making the board’s processes more transparent for residents.

In his words: “Change is inevitable. As Trustee, I will ensure that change is managed in such a way that our shoreline is protected and our quality of life as both private citizens and public custodians is not diminished.”

Read our endorsements for town trustee here

10/17/13 11:07am
10/17/2013 11:07 AM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Trustee candidates debate issues like water pollution and beach access during Tuesday’s forum.

Democratic Trustee challengers took aim at their Republican opponents Tuesday on the issues of water pollution and public beach access at a candidates’ forum sponsored by The Suffolk Times and hosted by Peconic Landing in Greenport.

Democratic challengers Geoffrey Wells, Joseph Finora and William Funke are opposing incumbent Republican Town Trustees John Bredemeyer and Mike Domino and Republican challenger Charles Sanders for three open seats on the board.

[Related: Deer management, Vineyard 48 hot topics among Town Board hopefuls]

Here’s what the candidates had to say about the issues.

WATER POLLUTION

All the candidates agreed that water pollution, specifically nitrogen loading, is a major and ongoing issue facing Southold Town.

When nitrogen gets into streams, ponds, Long Island Sound and Peconic Bay, it causes an overgrowth of algae, which sucks up oxygen in the water, the candidates said.

Mr. Bredemeyer and Mr. Domino said the board is keenly aware of groundwater conditions and, as a waterfront community with a strong agricultural industry, monitoring nitrate levels is a top priority.

Mr. Bredemeyer said the Trustees base permitting on science and work with sister regulatory agencies, such as the state Department of Environment Conservation, to control water contamination.

It’s a system Mr. Domino says doesn’t need fixing.

“Things are getting better in Southold Town,” he said. “We have to use scientific data to find out what we need to address first.”

Mr. Finora said he believes Southold Town does a better job than municipalities further west, but he suggested there’s room for improvement.

He and Mr. Wells said the primary source of Southold’s nitrate problem is not the farmer, but failing residential septic systems.

“Leaching is happening on a daily basis,” Mr. Wells said. “It is a very serious situation.”

Mr. Wells suggested that the Trustees revisit the manner in which town septic systems are monitored and reach out to other communities dealing with the issue of nitrate pollution, giving Cape Cod as an example. In recent years, several towns on the Cape have adopted legislation to oblige homeowners to purchase new septic systems to reduce nitrogen output, according to news reports.

While stating that nitrates are “the single worst problem” facing the Trustees, Mr. Funke said it would be unfair to ask residents to pay for expensive upgrades to their septic systems.

Mr. Finora disagreed sharply with his fellow Democrat.

“Little by little, we are losing the battle,” he said. “People will realize it’s better to have clean water than green grass.”

PUBLIC BEACH ACCESS

Where does waterfront beach property cross over to public land?

The Democratic challengers argued that the present town government hasn’t been doing enough to protect Southolders’ right to walk along local beaches.

The issue was brought to the forefront of the campaign two weeks ago, when the full slate of Democrats running for town offices — all currently all held by Republicans — purchased an advertisement in The Suffolk Times claiming that “some people” want to take away residents’ beach access.

During the debate, Mr. Finora said the ad was designed in response to an issue the public was bringing up “time and time again.”

The New York State Public Trust Doctrine says that anything seaward of the mean high water mark on the beach is public land and anything landward of the mean high water mark on the beach is private property. The wrack line, where debris washes up on the beach, is often considered an informal high tide mark, but it can change from day to day.

Mr. Finora and Mr. Wells said the town is responsible for drawing the line in the sand.

“We need to create a system where the community is involved in deciding were the mean high water mark is,” Mr. Wells said.

Republican hopefuls said the law is on the books and it is an enforcement issue outside the town Trustees’ purview.

“If you are doing something inappropriate, the bay constable should show up,” Mr. Bredemeyer said.

Mr. Funke said beach access “doesn’t seem like it is that much of a problem” and agreed with the Republicans’ stance on enforcement.

“I’m not sure what we can do with the wrack line, we certainly can’t monument it,” he said. “The people that are involved should just step down and stop fighting.”

TRUSTEE REPORT CARD

The current Board of Trustees is doing fairly well, according to hopefuls on both sides of the party line.

When asked to give current Trustees a letter grade, Mr. Wells gave a “B” rating.

“They uphold code and work hard,” he said. “However, they don’t reach out to the community.”

Mr. Wells feels the Trustees need to step up communication efforts with the public and make the process of applying for permits more transparent and easier for the average citizen to follow.

Incumbent Mr. Domino disagreed, saying members are accessible to the public and rewarding the board an “A+” grade.

“We hit all the bullet points in the mission statement,” he said.

Mr. Sanders echoed Mr. Domino’s response, while Mr. Finora and Mr. Bredemeyer said the voters would answer that question on Nov. 5.

Mr. Funke declined to respond.

“How am I supposed to know?” he said.

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08/01/13 10:00am
08/01/2013 10:00 AM

Charles Sanders

The Southold GOP has replaced a Town Trustee candidate who was told by his employer that he had to chose between his job and seeking public office.

David Zuhoski of Cutchogue, a fisheries technician for Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Marine Program, withdrew from the race last week, said town Republican leader Peter McGreevy. In his place, the party selected Greenport real estate agent Charles Sanders, a lieutenant in the Army National Guard who has never before sought public office.

In May, the Republicans selected 26-year-old Mr. Zuhoski over incumbent Republican Trustee Dave Bergen of Cutchogue. At that time, Mr. McGreevy said that although the incumbent had “a very successful eight years in office,” the committee decided “it was time to go in a different direction.”

Mr. Bergen and Mr. Sanders were the only two contenders to replace Mr. Zuhoski, the leader said.

“It’s very difficult to find a candidate to run for a Trustee position because they have to take a full day off work every other week,” Mr. McGreevy said. “That narrows the pool of candidates.”

Mr. Sanders, who has served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, “best represents what the committee wanted in a candidate,” Mr. McGreevy added. On Mr. Bergen’s status with the party, he said, “Dave Bergen is a good Republican. We know he’ll continue to be a party supporter and we hope to consider him for future available positions.”

Mr. Sanders said he hopes to be an effective advocate for property rights while protecting the environment.

“A balance is my main focus,” he said.

A Midwest native, Mr. Sanders said he first came to the North Fork to visit a friend who spent his summers here.

“He invited me out and I absolutely fell in love with it,” he said.

After moving to Greenport in 1999, Mr. Sanders entered the real estate field and is currently an associate broker for Town & Country in Southold.

He returned from his second tour in Afghanistan in January.

“My experience in Afghanistan made me love America a hell of a lot more than I did before, I can tell you that,” he said.

Mr. Sanders will join GOP incumbents John Bredemeyer and Mike Domino. The Democrats selected candidates Geoffery Wells, Joe Finora Jr. and Bill Funke.

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