A Conversation With Jeff Sander, The New Mayor Of North Haven

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When former North Haven Village Mayor Laura Nolan resigned in late April due to personal reasons, the Village Board decided to wait until after the June elections to appoint her replacement. Board members held true to their word at their organizational meeting on July 2, appointing veteran Trustee Jeff Sander to complete the final year of Ms. Nolan’s term.

Mr. Sander, who grew up in Queens but began spending his summers in the area in 1953, has been a trustee for the past six years, winning his fourth two-year term last month before giving up his seat to accept the role of mayor.

“I’ll just be mayor for a year, unless I decide to run for another term next June,” Mr. Sander said. “This is a great opportunity to try it for a year and see if I want to continue it.”

The 71-year-old, who has lived full-time in North Haven for 13 years since his retirement from IBM and Lucent Technologies, described the village as “a real nice community with no commercial properties and not a lot of issues.”

He said the key to his job will be to “keep North Haven a great place, try to preserve as much open space as I can and make sure we don’t get too overdeveloped. That has been the administration’s primary policy concern since I’ve gotten involved.”

As chairman of a committee of residents put together to examine deer and tick issues in the small village, Mr. Sander considers himself qualified to speak to the issue but welcomes any public comment on the board’s plans at the board meeting on Tuesday, August 6.

Mr. Sander’s view on the issue is simple: “You get rid of the deer, you get rid of the ticks.”

He explained that the committee looked extensively at the option of utilizing the 4-Poster program, which sprays deer with permethrin, a chemical designed to kill ticks, while they feed, but deemed it too expensive. “Plus,” he said, “you are still just feeding the deer, which is the root of the problem. They’ll keep coming back.”

The 4-Poster program is currently being utilized on Shelter Island at a cost of about $5,000 per unit, according to Jen Zacha, a member of the Shelter Island Deer and Tick Committee. He explained that the ideal rate of deployment would be one unit for every 40 acres.

Mr. Zacha also noted that because of budgetary concerns, Shelter Island has scaled back its spraying program, which has led to tick populations “bouncing back up pretty significantly.”

The North Haven committee’s solution, meanwhile, is an increase in seasonal hunting and organizing a few village-sponsored controlled hunts, which would help cull the herd—estimated to be at around 100 right now—to between 15 and 25 total.

The new mayor believes this strategy will be more effective in North Haven than elsewhere because “we are essentially an island. If we can get the numbers down significantly, we can keep it that way because unless they swim here from Shelter Island, we can very easily contain ourselves.”

Besides that main goal, Mr. Sander views two other projects worth undertaking in his first year as mayor.

First, the man who made his living at technology firms would like to see the village improve its online presence, overhauling its website and online calendars, and encouraging more email correspondence on the issues between board members and residents.

Additionally, Mr. Sander has asked two of the trustees to look at the process for building permits to “see if we can eliminate redundancies in the code, but keep them stringent.” He feels this process should be undertaken every few years as part of routine maintenance.

Mr. Sander and his wife Mala, a real estate agent, have four children and five grandchildren. He said he got involved in politics by chance and hadn’t thought about entering that world until Ms. Nolan asked him to consider filling a seat on the board when one came available.

He stuck with it, he added, because the position suits his personality: “I’m out in the community, I love the community—why not get involved in the decision-making and direction of our village?”

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