Before a standing room only audience on Monday night, six of the eight Southampton town trustee candidates responded to audience questions before the Hampton Bays Civic Association while also making election pitches.
Among the candidates in attendance were sitting trustees who are up for re-election, Fred Havemeyer, Ed Warner, Bill Pell and Eric Shultz. Also debating were challengers Scott Horowitz and Janet Beck.
On Nov. 8, voters will have the opportunity to elect five of the six candidates.
During the debate, each candidate had the opportunity to introduce themselves. All urged voters to elect them for their experience and their willingness to work hard for the issues that are important to the town.
John Semlear and Ed Pavlak did not attend the debate.
First up was Janet Beck, who said that if elected, she would bring a woman's prospective.
“I think it is important to have another voice for you,” she said.
Eric Schultz, the youngest member to be appointed to the town’s conservation board in 1972, said his experience on a variety of boards had helped him to make important decisions as a trustee.
“I enjoy being on this board. We work very well together and are in constant communication with each other,” he said.
Bill Pell, a trustee for the last year and a half says he is proud to serve the area.
“There is so much I like about being a trustee,” said Pell, who added that his work is vital to protecting the waterways and access to them.
Ed Warner, who is a bayman, said he probably has the biggest, vested interest in keeping the bays and ecology going and touted his experience on the trustees and the numerous projects he has worked on including ones with Cornell Cooperative Extension on eel grass planting and Southampton College with monitoring the red tide.
Scott Horowitz, a Hampton Bays resident who has worked in the commercial fishing industry and as a bay constable said he always has Hampton Bays at heart.
“If you elect me, you will get an accessible trustee that is hard working and understands the issues and is results oriented,” he said.
Fred Havemeyer, a water lover who was a surfer and fishes, says he loves the job and wants to “leave this place as good as it or even better.”
“I want to protect your rights so you can enjoy the resources,” he said.
Hampton Bays Civic Association President Bruce King then posed questions to the candidates, who each had two minutes each to respond.
All trustees had similar responses to questions asked, including one about beach hardening, which some homeowners have used to protect their properties.
Under current law, beach hardening structures are only allowed with a trustee permit.
Janet Beck said that she believes trustees need to do more in terms of educating the public about beach hardening structures because while they may protect a homeowner’s property, they can cause damage to their neighbor’s land.
“It’s very important to educate people,” she said.
Speaking for sitting trustees, Ed Warner said the trustees have a good idea of what’s happening with hardening structures, but the trustees are still get calls from homeowners asking how they can protect their property.
“Many times people think that when they buy houses on the water, they have the ability to protect their property as they see fit,” but said Warner that is not the case.
“We are on top of this,” said Warner, who says the trustees will work with homeowners to find the best solution.
That also goes for existing bulkheads that have been damaged. According to Schultz, the trustees are now expediting all requests for bulkhead repair from damage from Irene. However, before new permits are issues for repairs, the trustees will be looking to determine if other mitigation measures can be taken aside from bulkheading.
In addition to questions about shore-hardening structures, trustees also spoke to cesspools and setback regulations. All agreed more could be done.
Also featured during the civic meeting was a debate between Suffolk County Legislator and his opponent . Click here for coverage of that debate.
A debate among town board candidates will be held by the civic association at their October meeting.