10/29/15 4:59am
10/29/2015 4:59 AM

Southold Town Board debate 2015

Tuesday is Election Day nationwide and voters in Southold Town will be asked to choose a supervisor, two council members, two trustees, a town justice and assessor.

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11/02/13 2:01pm
11/02/2013 2:01 PM

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TOWN ASSESSOR
Four-year term, two open seats
Salary: $72,638

Marie A. Domenici
Hamlet: Mattituck
Occupation: Self-employed consultant
Party line: Democratic

About her: Ms. Domenici, who declined to give her age, said she has a wide range of business experience in both the private and public sector. A Mattituck resident, she worked for a Fortune 500 company for 15 years and later for an alternative energy startup. After leaving the startup, she was hired as an office manager and legislative aide to New York State Assemblyman Marc Alessi. She is the former chair of Southold Town’s renewable energy committee and also served on the Town’s stormwater run-off committee and the Citizen’s Committee for a Comprehensive Plan for Southold Town. Two years ago, she ran unsuccessfully on the Democratic line for a seat on the Town Board.

Her pitch: Ms. Domenici said her first priority is community collaboration and satisfaction. If elected, she hopes to organize educational meetings to inform the community about the way the assessor’s office functions.

In her words: “What I bring to this position is the ability to communicate and collaborate well with people. I am the candidate who will bring creative ideas and fairness to the office of the Assessor.”

Terry Hofer
Hamlet: Southold
Occupation: Interior stylist, self-employed
Party lines: Democrat

About her: Ms. Hofer, 59, moved to the North Fork as a child in 1964 and has lived most of her life here, raising two children in the Mattituck-Cutchogue community. She is a former owner of the Down Home Store in Cutchogue, which she operated for seven years. She later enrolled in adult education and went to work for Crate & Barrel, where she was quickly promoted to assistant manager at the national retailer’s flagship store on Madison Avenue in New York City and later worked as store manager at a location in Westchester. Her civic and community volunteer experience includes service as a member of the Southold Historical Society, a Community Action Southold Town volunteer and as a member of the Harvest Gospel Choir of the East End Arts Council.

Her pitch: Ms. Hofer believes her experience as a small-business owner and a manager of a major retailer makes her an ideal candidate for assessor. She says she has the interpersonal skills and the ability to build and develop relationships necessary for the job.

In her words: “I’m approachable, hard-working, detail-oriented, decent and experienced.”

Robert I. Scott Jr.
Hamlet: Orient
Occupation: Incumbent Southold Town Assessor
Party lines: Republican, Conservative and Independent

About him: Mr. Scott, 65, is a Greenport High School graduate who earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Davis and Elkins before serving as an officer in the U.S. Army. A past president of the Greenport Rotary, he lives with his wife in Orient. He spent 18 years working as a real estate broker. He has been a member of the Orient Fire Department for 29 years, including 14 as chairman and three as a commissioner of the fire district. He was the department’s Fireman of the Year in 2003. Mr. Scott has served six terms as a Southold Town Assessor and is the office’s current chairman. In 1993 he was granted the New York State designation of Certified Assessor Advanced. He has also served as president of the Suffolk County Assessors Association. If re-elected, he said this would be his final term.

His pitch: Mr. Scott believes his experience, and that of his running mate, Kevin Webster, should be strongly considered when casting a vote this Election Day. He pointed to their first-hand knowledge of the day-to-day business of an assessor as key differences between them and their opponents. He said maintaining a level of continuity is important in an office where another longtime assessor already retired earlier this year.

In his words: “Kevin Webster and I have tried to continue the ‘open door’ accessibility to all the public when it comes to assessment questions — whether it’s agricultural, senior citizen or STAR exemptions, deeds, estimates on future construction, etc. It is our hope to be seen as uniform and fair in any assessment situation.”

Kevin W. Webster
Hamlet: East Marion
Occupation: Incumbent Southold Town Assessor
Party Lines: Republican, Conservative and Independent

About him: Mr. Webster, 43, grew up in Orient and graduated from Ithaca College in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. He has lived in East Marion with his wife and son for the past 15 years. He worked for 14 years in the appraisal, real estate and assessment industry, completing the New York State real estate sales agent and appraisers’ courses in that time. He has been a member of the East Marion Fire Department since 2004 and is currently its chairman. Mr. Webster was first elected Southold Town Assessor in 2005 and has served two terms.

His pitch: Mr. Webster believes that with the evolution of the job of assessor to include appraisals, exemption and tax return analysis and increased interaction with the public, he and running mate,Bob Scott, are best suited for the position.

In his words: “Our complete knowledge of all hamlets of the town, from Fishers Island to Laurel, allows us to help every one of our homeowners in a personal manner.”

TOWN ASSESSOR
Two-year unexpired term, one open seat
Salary: $72,638

Richard L. Caggiano
Hamlet: Southold
Occupation: Financial analyst
Party lines: Republican, Conservative, Independence

About him: Mr. Caggiano, 64, moved to Southold with his wife, Susan, in 1985. The couple has three children. He studied teaching at St. John’s University and taught in New York City schools. He later changed careers and entered into the financial industry, opening an office in Southold. Mr. Caggiano has served on the Southold school board, the Greenport/Southold Chamber of Commerce, the Southold Town Planning Board, the town supervisor’s Tax Council and the Southold Hamlet Stakeholders.

His pitch: Mr. Caggiano said the assessor position requires interaction with the public on a daily basis, often in a contentious atmosphere, and he believes his 25-plus years of experience in the corporate, small business and governmental sectors qualify him for the job. He said his background includes proficiency in budgeting, forecasting, financial and operational analysis, management, governmental contracting and grants and procurement.

In his words: “Through my years of service, both volunteer and professional, I have developed the ability to be fair, balanced and respectful toward everyone, resulting in successful outcomes.”

Jason A. Petrucci
Hamlet: Southold
Occupation: Food service industry
Party line: Democratic

About him: Mr. Petrucci, 29, is a Mattituck High School alumnus who studied political science as an undergraduate at Drew University and did graduate studies at the University of Maryland. Mr. Petrucci has served on the town’s Conservation Advisory Council, participated in the Blue Ribbon Commission and served as an intern for Comgressman Tim Bishop. He currently works at Friar’s Head Golf Club in Riverhead.

His pitch: Mr. Petrucci said he was surprised to learn that property owners of merged substandard lots in pre-1971 subdivisions are assessed for the value of two separate lots. He believes there needs to be better communication between the assessor’s office and other town departments in order to prevent redundancies and the over-assessment of properties.

In his words: “My long experience [studying] town planning department subject matter and publication procedures gives me a practical perspective that I know the Board of Assessors would benefit from.”

11/02/13 2:00pm

(From left): Richard Caggiano, Robert Scott and Kevin Webster

In the past 20 years, Democrats have challenged for the position of Southold Town Assessor only once — in 1995, when they secured just 32 percent of the vote.

The office has long been controlled by three mostly unopposed Republicans: Robert Scott and Kevin Webster, who are up for re-election this year, and Darline Duffy, who retired June 1. Ms. Duffy’s retirement means all three seats will be voted on Tuesday.

For the first time in 18 years, Democrats have chosen to nominate a full slate of assessor candidates, picking Marie Domenici and Terry Hofer to run against Mr. Scott and Mr. Webster, and Jason Petrucci against Republican challenger Richard Caggiano in a special election for the final two years of Ms. Duffy’s unexpired term.

On one hand, it’s nice to see the Southold Town Democrats running a mostly full slate of candidates — the party did not endorse for Fishers Island Justice or town clerk — in a year when all the incumbents on the ballot are Republican.

On the other hand, we believe many of this year’s Democratic candidates came up short in terms of qualifications. Nowhere is this more evident than in the assessor race, where none of the three Democratic challengers has any work experience in the real estate or accounting industries. While it’s good to see an underdog political party fill out a ballot with a full slate of candidates, it’s troubling to learn that some of those candidates aren’t exactly qualified for the office they seek.

Of the three Democrats running for assessor, Mr. Petrucci, a student of government who is fully up to speed on the goings on at Town Hall, is best suited for a government post. He said he scored well on his civil service exam and it would be good to see his number called for a union position.

That said, it’s hard to argue that he’s more qualified than Mr. Caggiano — a municipal accountant who most recently worked in the county comptroller’s office — for Ms. Duffy’s former job.

Ms. Domenici and Ms. Hofer are among the most personable candidates on this year’s ballot but this is no congeniality contest. Mr. Scott and Mr. Webster are two of the hardest-working and most knowledgeable staffers in all of Town Hall. Southold is a town with nearly 1,300 property tax grievance cases each year and just as many homeowners approaching the assessor’s office directly with a grievance. It’s a high-demand public and customer service position that demands institutional knowledge. It would be a shame to see either Mr. Scott or Mr. Webster booted from his current position by an unqualified opponent.

Ms. Domenici’s primary talking point during the campaign was to educate the public on how the assessor’s office works. However, she freely admitted during the campaign that she herself has no knowledge of the inner workings of the office. Ms. Hofer, too, seemed to lack basic knowledge of how the assessor’s office operates.

Mr. Scott, an assessor for the past 24 years, said that if re-elected this year he will not run again in 2017. We hope Democrats will use the next four years to produce a more qualified assessor candidate than the three on the ballot this year.