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Potential trustees to face off in contested Village election

02/21/2019 5:00 AM |

Five Greenport Village residents will duke it out for two open trustee positions on the Village Board this year.

Last month, Lily Dougherty-Johnson and Cindy Pease Roe both announced plans to run for village trustee. After incumbent Doug Roberts announced he wouldn’t seeking re-election, two others also came forward as candidates: Greenport native Devin McMahon and business owner Peter Clarke — also came forward as candidates. These four, along with incumbent trustee Jack Martilotta, were confirmed to run after submitting applications and signed petitions by Feb. 13.

Trustees Mary Bess Phillips, who has served on the board since 2009, and Julia Robins will remain in their positions after retaining their seats in the 2017 election.

Mr. Martilotta, 44, whose four-year term expires next month, said he’ll do everything in his power to maintain low taxes if re-elected. 

“We’ve done well financially, we’ve been squeezing every nickel out of the people’s budget,” he said. “It can’t last forever, but I think the community appreciates that.” 

The 12-year Greenport High School science teacher and Army veteran, who has three children, said working in the school district often overlaps with his role as trustee. The network of parents and students he’s met, he said, helped the village open up the school gymnasium to students on weekends in winter.

“It’s a real honor and privilege to be a trustee,” Mr. Martilotta said. “I have three kids and I’m a pretty busy person — but it allows me the opportunity to talk to people inside and outside the village. It allows me to connect.” 

Mr. McMahon, 34, has worked and volunteered with the Greenport Planning Board for five years. Mr. McMahon, the bar manager at Lucharitos in Greenport, said he wants to improve the relationship between the village and local business owners. 

“There shouldn’t be surprises and constantly shifting goalposts when someone is trying to open a business,” he wrote in statement Tuesday. “Information provided by the village should be readily accessible, accurate and consistent. We can do better.”

Ms. Dougherty-Johnson, 38, who grew up in Greenport, said she also wants to improve the relationship between the village and residents by strengthening communication.

“The village should be responsive to residents and local businesses,” she said. “To form a vision for Greenport … it’s going to be a balance of comments from the residents and business owners.” 

Ms. Dougherty-Johnson, who volunteers at the Greenport Farmers’ Market, said she hopes to figure out a long-term plan for the village and foster a stronger community. She’s promoted her campaign, Our Home, via social media and door-to-door campaigning. It’s inclusive of young and older members of the village, she said. “I feel like I’m a good bridge between the newcomers and people who have been here for generations,” she said. 

Mr. Clarke, owner of Clarke’s Garden and Home, joined Greenport’s Business Improvement District in 2010, the same year he moved to the village full-time. During that time, he said, he found polarization between businesses and the community — businesses weren’t always focused on what was best for the village, he said. He said his business plan for Clarke’s Garden and Home benefits local businesses and outside residents. 

While he believes Greenport is operating “at a fairly high level” — with the addition of new housing lots and businesses being open during the off-season — there’s still room for improvement. 

“This has always been a commercial-based community,” he said. “I’m running on a more progressive platform that says these changes are good and we need to continue to improve, without losing what’s unique about the village,” Mr. Clarke said. 

Ms. Roe, 59, whose name will appear on the ballot as Cynthia Roe, said her strengths lie in marine and environmental issues. A local artist and 10-year business owner, she incorporates beach debris into sculptures to make statements about marine issues and said Greenport is dependent on a “clean, working waterfront.” 

“I’m a villager,” she said. “I’m a voice of the people. If I’m elected, that’s my strength — I want to help improve the quality of our working marine community.”

Mayor George Hubbard Jr., 59, who won a four-year term in March 2015, will seek re-election next month. The mayor has served on the Village Board for 12 years and is running unopposed this year. 

If re-elected, Mr. Hubbard said, he will continue addressing housing issues and pursue projects the board has started — including upgrades to local parks, stopping runoff into Peconic Bay and repairing over 100 curbs and sidewalks.

“We’ve got a lot of stuff in the works that we’re just designing now,” he said. “I want to continue to improve the quality of life.”

The village hasn’t raised taxes in the past four years, Mr. Hubbard said. While a tax increase can’t be predicted, he said he’ll try to keep a potential increase to a minimum. 

“We’ve been trying to use money out of pocket,” he said. “I’d like to continue that so we don’t put the burden on future board members and community members. We’ll try to keep budget increase low.” 

Voting in Greenport Village will take place Tuesday, March 19. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Third Street firehouse. 

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