Four Run For Two Sag Harbor Seats

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Four candidates are vying for two trustee seats on the Sag Harbor Village Board, including a longtime incumbent, an ex-mayor and -trustee, another ex-trustee, and one newcomer.

Incumbent Ed Gregory is seeking a 13th term, running on the Sag Harbor Party line with Mayor Brian Gilbride. Ed Deyermond, a former mayor and trustee, is eying a return on the Progressive Party line. Business owner Ken O’Donnell is running for the first time under the Citizens for Common Sense Party banner, and Bruce Stafford, a former trustee who lost reelection last year, is staging a comeback on the Open Space Party line.

Each term is two years. The second seat has been left vacant at the current board’s discretion since August, when former Trustee Tim Culver resigned.

The polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, June 18, at the Sag Harbor Fire Department’s main firehouse on Brick Kiln Road.

ED GREGORYMr. Gregory, 67, has served 12 non-consecutive terms on the Sag Harbor Village Board stretching back to 1978 and is looking to keep his seat in a highly contested race.

An electrician, Mr. Gregory joined his family business, Gregory Electric in Bridgehampton, after graduating from Bridgehampton School. The Joels Lane resident has belonged to the Sag Harbor Village Volunteer Ambulance Corps, which he helped found, for about 33 years. Previously, he volunteered with the Sag Harbor Fire Department for a decade, during which he helped start the department’s rescue squad.

“We have quite a few projects under way, and I would like to see them completed,” he said, naming the cleanup of Havens Beach, a long-plagued swimming spot and the future of Long Wharf, which the village acquired from Suffolk County last year, as two examples. He said he would like to set up a committee to plan how to make the wharf greener and more attractive. Addressing drainage problems and keeping the waterfront as clean as possible is another aim.

As Mr. Gilbride’s running mate, Mr. Gregory agrees with the mayor’s stance on the village’s standoff with its police union, that the size of the force had to be cut because of escalating health insurance and retirement costs. The police have been without a contract for two years and are now in binding arbitration. This year, the Village Board slashed one officer’s position through attrition and laid off another. Mr. Gregory said he believed the mayor did an extensive study that determined 10 officers and a chief would adequately protect the village.

“He stepped up to the plate and took the bull by the horns,” he said of the mayor’s actions, a source of great contention among the police. “We could have just kicked the can down the road.”

ED DEYERMONDMr. Deyermond, 60, is seeking a political return this year, having already served as Sag Harbor’s mayor from 2003 to 2006, and as a trustee in the 1990s and again from 2007 to 2009.

The Ackerly Street resident was East Hampton Town’s tax assessor from 1978 to 1990, Southampton Town’s sole assessor from 1990 to 2001 and 2006 to 2010, as well as North Haven Village clerk. The retiree holds an associate degree from the University of Massachusetts School of Agriculture. He is also a 35-year active member of the Sag Harbor Fire Department, past president of the Sag Harbor Lions Club and served a term on the Long Island Pine Barrens Clearinghouse Board.

“Right now, I’m retired. I have the time,” he said. “There’s a lot going on in the village and I’d still like to be a part of it.”

Mr. Deyermond said the village needs to get its staff and employees working together. “We need to tone down the rhetoric and all relax and work together. I see that as a big problem right now.”

Having taken part in police union negotiations in the past, he said he would like to participate in that again. At this point, in arbitration, “the village’s hands are tied,” he said, but that if the rhetoric could be ratcheted down, then a resolution in the future could be more easily reached.

KEN O’DONNELLMr. O’Donnell, 45, the owner of La Superica, a popular Mexican bar and grill in downtown Sag Harbor, has tossed his hat into the ring for the first time this year with the goal of offering a different perspective.

The Garden Street resident graduated from Fordham University with a major in history and concentration in economics. He belongs to the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce and is a lacrosse and football coach for East Hampton’s Police Athletic League.

His main platform revolves around quality-of-life issues, water quality, flooding and the unresolved police contract. He said he would like the village to be more proactive in preparing for future hurricanes, such as by removing its transient, floating docks beforehand and working more closely with the Harbor Committee, State Department of Environmental Conservation and Peconic Baykeeper to address the waterfront. High nitrogen levels in the water have caused them to be closed to shellfishing, he said. “That’s the lifeblood of Sag Harbor,” he said. “Our most important asset is our waterfront.”

Having 19 years’ worth of business experience negotiating contracts and leases, he said such negotiations must be stripped of emotions.

“To a certain extent, both sides [the village and police] are at fault because emotions are running high,” he said. He questioned how the village could have hired an officer in 2010, when the economy hit rock bottom after the global stock market crash, and then laid him off this year, saying it didn’t have the foresight.

“If we could afford him at the worst of times, why can we not afford him as times are getting better?” he said.

A more transparent government is another goal. Sag Harbor is a rare municipality in that its meetings are not televised. It has also made big decisions, such as adopting its budget with the police layoff, at 8 a.m. meetings, he said.

BRUCE STAFFORDMr. Stafford, 55, a former Sag Harbor Village Board trustee who lost a reelection bid last year, is seeking to regain his old seat with a second term.

The Havens Lane resident is a Pierson High School graduate who attended Suffolk Community College for a short time, but did not receive a degree. A self-employed landscaper, Mr. Stafford is entering his 36th year with the Sag Harbor Fire Department, where he was recently reelected to the Board of Wardens. He is president of the Sag Harbor Fire Department Benevolent Association, a liaison between the fire department and Boy Scouts Troop 455, chairman of the board at the Sag Harbor United Methodist Church and a member of the Red Knights.

“The board never lost its appeal to me,” he said, adding that he attends meetings and feels he has unfinished business on the board.

“I’d like to see the village get a little greener as far as more solar panels on different buildings,” he said, adding that he put forth the idea of placing such panels on the firehouse.

Mr. Stafford said he would also like to be part of the future of Long Wharf, although he said its fate lies in the hands of the public, not the Village Board and said it is sure to come up in future meetings.

In terms of the police standoff, Mr. Stafford, a former seasonal officer for the village, said he supports Mr. Gilbride’s decision to cut the force size.

“We asked for them [the police union] to wait for the economy to catch up,” he said. “You know the answer we got.” He said that if Mr. Gilbride conducted a study that determined the village could do with 10 officers and a chief, he believes it.

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