It was a packed house Monday night at the Harborfields
Public Library, where residents came to hear from those running for Huntington
Supervisor, Town Board and Highway Superintendent in a Meet the Candidates
Night, hosted by the League of Women Voters.
In discussing what they see as the most important issues currently facing the area the Huntington Democratic candidates, which include Supervisor Frank Petrone, Town Councilman Mark Cuthbertson and businesswoman Tracey Edwards, said fighting the Long Island Power Authority tax certiorari, improving communications technology and appropriately managing the town’s taxes and budget are key to their platform. On the Republican side, which include Town Supervisor candidate Gene Cook, Councilman Mark Mayoka and town board candidate Joshua Price, term limits, transparency and tax stabilization are the top priorities.
The Long Island Power Authority was one of the hot button issues during the evening.
Petrone, Cuthbertson and Edwards agreed that the fight against LIPA’s tax certiorari must go. An offer by the power company to lower its payments to the town and Northport-East Northport School District by 60 percent, instead of the precious 90 percent figure, expired Oct. 20, and LIPA denied the town and school board its request for an extension to consider it.
“What we can’t do at this point is settle, because they haven’t given us information on the actual worth of the plant,” Cuthbertson said. Edwards said that if elected, she would continue the fight. “If that goes through, it will absolutely change the character of Northport,” she said.
Mayoka also agreed that LIPA’s offer was not a fair one. However, Price said that he would be very cautious with the LIPA battle. “The town board should tread very carefully. If a there is a massive judgment against Huntington, it affects the entire town,” he said.
Another big topic of the evening was the cost of living in the Town of Huntington. When asked what the board would do to make the area more accessible for young people and seniors, Petrone and Cuthbertson said that creating affordable, mixed use buildings is the key. Cook, Mayoka and Price said that making the town an affordable place to live starts with looking at the town taxes, and that if taxes were lower, younger people and seniors could move in. Edwards said that instead of putting in more affordable housing complexes, she would like to see young people more educated about opportunities for buying a home so that new generations could become home owners instead of renters in the community. Cook also said that he would prefer to teach young residents how to become homeowners, rather than create apartment complexes.
Price said that the idea of mixed-use housing reminded him of Queens, and that such structures would change the suburban community. “I hate idea of storefronts with apartments above them,” he said.
The lack of parking in downtown Huntington was another focus of the night. Nearly all of the candidates said that a parking garage, either below or above ground may become necessary. However, Edwards and Cuthbertson said that they would want to either redesign current lots or find a way to maximize unused areas before building a new structure.
When asked what their number one priority would be if elected Nov. 5, Petrone said that continuing to advance technology and create a more interactive town website would be his first goal. “My priority would be, how do we deliver services now so that people don’t always have to come into Town Hall,” he said. Cuthbertson agreed that technology advancement is the first achievable goal, as well as fighting the LIPA tax certiorari. Edwards said her priority is the town finances. “On November 6, I’m going after the money,” she said. Mayoka also said technology is a main priority, and that the town should be creating monthly financial statements for residents to see.
Cook said his first priority is to make the town’s finances more transparent. Price agreed, adding that he wants to see a resolution passed that when any individual gets a contribution from a developer, everyone should be able to see it, stating he wants “transparency out in the sunshine.”
Voters will cast their ballots on Nov. 5.