While there is no supervisor’s race in Southold next week, the local elections are still very important for the direction the town will follow in the coming years. There are three big issues Southold must always keep front and center: farmland preservation, the health and vitality of our salt creeks and the Peconic Bay estuary system.
This is not to say there are no other issues worth addressing in this election cycle. There are, of course, many others — from traffic problems to determining the limits of “agritainment” to, as always, the efficient running of town government and transparency to taxpayers about how their money is spent.`
Slowing nitrogen pollution by installing a higher grade of septic system is also vital if we are to save our creeks and ultimately the bay itself. These new systems are expensive, no question. But the town must begin to discuss whether such systems should be required for new home construction above a certain price tag.
And beyond that, for houses of a certain size and scale, should geothermal systems be required, or at least strongly suggested? A residential geothermal system installed in a home of 1,800 to 2,000 square feet is the equivalent of taking six to eight cars off the road.
The Big Three define us. They are our past, our present, our future. They are Southold. The creeping loss of farmland — some of the best in North America — would be the end of everything good and unique about the North Fork.
With this in mind, there are no dramatic differences among the Town Board candidates of the two major parties. No candidate is opposed to spending public money on preservation. Everyone running — including incumbents Robert Ghosio and James Dinizio and challengers Mary Eisenstein and Debbie O’Kane — says they favor keeping Southold the remarkable town that it is. The differences between the political parties seem to be in name only.
That said, there are standouts in the Southold races this year, and candidates who rise above the ordinary — and above those already in office, who seem to be just mailing it in rather than going all out for the public’s benefit.
In endorsement interviews at The Suffolk Times, Ms. Eisenstein, a Democratic Party candidate for Town Board, said Southold was at a “crossroads” in terms of dealing with critical issues. She has used that word in some of her advertisements.
She is right, and it is because of her clear-eyed view of where we are now, and her enthusiasm and all-around smarts, that we enthusiastically endorse her for Town Board. She knows what is important in Southold, how to keep the town’s priorities in order and how to find solutions working with others on the board.
Serving on the Town Board is more than mindlessly seconding resolutions. The board has to be an idea factory. Put party registration and loyalty aside — who has the best ideas moving forward? That should be the fundamental question for anyone from any party who is running for public office in Southold.
Ms. Eisenstein is one of the sharpest candidates to walk onto Southold’s public stage and, if elected, will add a great deal of integrity to the government.
We also endorse Mr. Ghosio, who has been a solid member of the Town Board and, before that, the Board of Trustees. Mr. Ghosio has earned the privilege of another term on the board. The Democrats did not make a case on why he should be denied another term.
As we explained in an editorial at the beginning of the year, we are not endorsing in some races this year. For this cycle, we will not endorse in either the assessor race or the Trustees race.
But a word on the Trustees is in order. It is true that the people who sit on this board occupy the town’s most important seats. Why? Because their decisions directly impact the Big Three. They are the first line of defense.
Our recommendation this year is for voters to go back and read our recent coverage of this year’s Trustee candidates and, beyond that, to closely study their credentials. Nostalgia is not a reason to run for elected office. “I can do a better job” is a cliché. There are candidates in this year’s Trustees race with serious credentials for the job. Study them. Make a smart pick.
Surely, there are big issues in our future the Trustees must begin to consider now. Climate change is not, at the time of this writing, an issue in the Trustees election. It should be. It is the monster that is inexorably creeping up on the world, and on the North Fork. We must be prepared to deal with it and elect candidates who recognize its threats.