Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, an advertising professional for 30 years, is seeking a four-year term on the East Hampton Town Board, a position that comes with a $61,750 annual salary.
The first-time candidate, a Democrat who is also endorsed by the Working Families Party, completed nine years on the Springs School Board this year, when she opted not to run again. She served as president her last two years on that board and as vice president for two years prior to that. She has also chaired the school district’s communications, budget and audit committees.
Married to Joe Gonzalez, the bartender and beverage manager at Rowdy Hall in East Hampton Village, she is a mother to Burke, 15, a sophomore at East Hampton High School, and Nina, 13, an eighth-grader at Springs School.
Ms. Burke-Gonzalez, a Springs resident, holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing and management from Siena College.
“East Hampton is my family’s home. This is where we make our living, and where our kids are growing up,” she said. “For us, this is it. I’m extremely concerned about the serious issues facing our town. The way I see it, if we want East Hampton to remain a beautiful, healthy and extraordinary place to live, work and raise a family, then we need a responsive town government that works for the people, and that isn’t the case presently.”
Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said that during her time on the School Board she discovered that she loves public service.
“I enjoy listening to what people have to say about a situation and then figuring out a solution and putting that solution to work,” she said.
She said she would like more public input before proposing legislation. She named finances, quality of life, the environment and good government as areas of interest. She said she aims to keep a lid on taxes and debt, seek alternative forms of non-tax revenue, fully and fairly enforce the Town Code, manage the Montauk club scene, reestablish Town Board control over East Hampton Airport, defend and protect the beaches from coastal erosion and sea-level rise, adopt a wastewater management plan to protect drinking, groundwaters and surface waters and return “civility, dignity and seriousness” to the Town Board.
Ms. Burke-Gonzalez points to her leadership role in Springs as evidence she is fit for public service, saying she listened with an open mind, sought out necessary expertise, found common ground with colleagues and built trust with the community.
The three biggest issues in town right now, she said, are severe storms, coastal erosion and sea-level rise, clean water, and quality-of-life issues.
For the first, she said she would like to work with U.S. Representative Tim Bishop to rebuild beaches and dunes in Montauk—she has said she favors soft beach solutions, as opposed to hard structures—adopt a coastal hazard mitigation and recovery plan and educate the community on emergency preparedness.
For clean water, she said she would like to adopt a wastewater management plan that reduces nitrogen loading in the waters and would like to pursue parcels of open space with the Community Preservation Fund, as well as state and county partnerships.
In terms of quality of life, such as the illegal occupancy of single-family homes, share houses and overcrowded nightclubs, she said she would make this a priority issue, create an interagency working group to focus on residential code violations, reorganize the Building Department, employ a new code enforcement officer with investigative skills to specialize in residential zoning and increase fines for zoning violations to the limit allowed under state law.