Less than eight weeks before the March 15 Greenport election, there’s a battle brewing among four candidates seeking two trustee seats, but as of this week, no one has stepped up to challenge Mayor David Nyce, who is seeking a second four-year term.
That could change between now and Feb. 8, the deadline for candidates to submit nominating petitions.
Mr. Nyce announced his candidacy to Peconic Landing residents last week in response to a question after delivering a state of the village address. Mr. Nyce has obtained an election petition form and needs to file 50 signatures to gain a spot on the ballot.
During his Peconic Landing appearance and at a recent Village Board meeting, the mayor made the case for his re-election, saying his administration has made substantial progress on upgrading its waste water treatment plant and is about to embark on upgrades to the electric department. The village also has repaid almost half of the more than $13 million debt he says his administration inherited. But he credited some of the debt pay-down to his predecessor, former mayor Dave Kapell, who obtained grant funds. Mr. Nyce also says his administration has streamlined Village Hall operations with improved checks and balances and the board has kept tax increases to a minimum.
“It’s been an immense amount of work,” he said. “It would be nice to see things through and hopefully it will lend some stability.”
In the race for the two trustee seats, four candidates have picked up petitions, indicating their intent to run. Incumbents George Hubbard Jr. and Michael Osinski are seeking re-election. Board critic and former trustee and Bill Swiskey is campaigning for one seat, and newcomer David Murray, who has served on the village’s Historic Preservation Commission for three years and became its chairman last spring, has also secured a petition.
Others could jump into the race for either mayor or trustee before the Feb. 8 deadline. There’s also the possibility that a potential candidate is collecting signatures without using the village-supplied petition form, which is permitted.
Mr. Osinski previously hinted at leaving the board at the end of his current term. He has made reference recently to his days as a public official being numbered and has expressed frustration on the slow pace of government actions. He and Mr. Nyce, who ran together four years ago, have locked horns with some regularity, particularly in the past year.
Mr. Osinski said he’s not challenging Mr. Nyce because “I don’t have the time for mayor.”
He says he decided to seek reelection to work on creating jobs.
“The bay is under-utilized,“ Mr. Osinski said. The former Wall Street IT expert is one of three oyster farmers working the western shore of Greenport Harbor. The board needs to look at what makes the village thrive and realize that tourism might be the driving force in the summer, but oyster farming would create year-round jobs, he said.
Mr. Hubbard, who won handily four years ago with support from Greenport Fire Department members, also complains about government red tape and the slow pace of getting work done. He was involved in the $9 million waste water treatment project and says he wants to see that project through to completion. The same holds true for the electric department upgrade project just about to start.
“I don’t like what I see,” is how Bill Swiskey described his reason for running. “I don’t understand the whole mentality of the village.”
He was elected to the board in March 2008 for a one-year term after the death of veteran trustee George Hubbard Sr., but he lost his bid the following year for a full four-year term.
A former long-time village utilities chief, Mr. Swiskey has been critical of how the board has handled the waste water treatment plant project and plans for the electric plant upgrade.
Mr. Murray credits his experience on the Historic Preservation Commission with whetting his appetite to get more involved with village issues. He says he has a special interest in fostering more youth programs. Mr. Murray is basketball coach for the St. Patrick’s CYO fifth grade boys’ team. His wife, Lisa Murray, is a member of the Greenport Board of Education.
Mr. Murray also wants the board to begin investigating ways to refinance some of its remaining debt if ways can’t be found to pay it off by 2014, he said.
As chairman of the HPC, Mr. Murray supported expanding the historic district beyond its current borders to encompass the entire village. Present boundaries make it difficult for many homeowners to know whether or not their properties are within the historic district, he said. The HPC has no formal control over the downtown area although projects in the business district are often sent to the commission for informal review.