Your guide to village elections
BY TARA SMITH
On Tuesday, June 19, the Village of Bellport will hold their annual election for two trustee positions. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Three have announced their candidacy, including two incumbents and one newcomer to village politics.
There will be a Meet the Candidates event on Monday, June 11 at 7 p.m. at the Community Center.
Steve Mackin, 42, is hoping for a second term on the village board. Mackin, who works in sales, lives on Bieselin Road with wife Dina and three children, Hana, Ryan and Emma. He is also a volunteer member of the Bellport Fire Department.
A 37-year resident of the village, Mackin ran in 2016 on the platform of offering a more blue-collar perspective to the five-member board. “Two years goes by fast,” Mackin said in an interview last week. “It feels like I’m just starting to turn the ball and make progress.”
Mackin sees his traffic undertaking as a major accomplishment during his tenure on the board of trustees. He played an instrumental role in getting the blinking traffic light brought back to South Country Road and Browns Lane and in getting the county to perform a traffic study in the village, set to begin this summer. “I want to see it through. There are a lot of people that come in during the season who are not familiar with our village. I want to make it a safe place for all: residents, children and visitors,” he said.
In 2016, Mackin told the Advance that he wanted to work to bring more technology to the village. He’s proud to have served on the board as they implemented village-wide upgraded security camera systems. “We’re working with our code enforcement director to upgrade our policies and procedures into the 21st century,” he said.
Mackin hopes to continue bringing a younger perspective to the board. He was outspoken against a proposed $100 boat-sticker fee for residents to dock at Ho-Hum Beach and did not support the wide ban on short-term rentals. “I recognized the need for regulation, but I’m a simpleton. I wanted to start simple versus implementing wide sweeping regulations. I was willing to compromise,” Mackin said. Of the boat fee, Mackin expressed the impact it would have on hardworking families in the area. “One hundred dollars is my daughter’s orthodontist payment. There are challenges today that impact cost of living,” he said.
Overall, he’s enjoyed the two years on the board, despite occasional disagreements. “We don’t agree on everything. We’re not supposed to,” Mackin said. “It’s a good balance.”
Joseph Gagliano, 72, currently serves as deputy mayor on the Bellport Village board. A retired education administrator, he lives on Point Road with his wife, Carole, and has two daughters and three grandchildren. Prior to serving on the village board, Gagliano had served the village in different capacities, including the waterfront commission and architectural review board.
“It’s one of the most fulfilling jobs I’ve ever been involved in,” Gagliano said, reflecting last week on his first term.
He’s asking for re-election to continue work on making Bellport safer, stabilizing taxes and preserving what he considers to be the village’s greatest asset: the waterfront.
“We’ve been achieving these things. I’m proud of that, but it’s not thanks to me personally. As a board, we work together.”
Gagliano said traffic concerns are a top safety priority. “I think speed humps would make a difference, but I’m interested to see what the traffic study says,” he said. While the board awaits results of a traffic study set to begin this summer, Gagliano noted that they worked to bring back the caution light at South Country Road and Browns Lane.
Though taxes will increase in the village this year, Gagliano pointed out that he opted not to increase taxes for two years. “We’ve done extremely well working to get grants from the government and at the same time been frugal and conservative, making every dollar we have count,” he said, citing projects funded through both FEMA and state grants. “If those [projects] were on the backs of our village taxpayers, it would be a burden that would be, in my opinion, too much to bear.”
Overall, Gagliano is proud of the village reduction in debt and improved AA-plus bond rating.
If re-elected, he said he would continue to push for more effective village communication. “We’re hoping that our website can provide additional communication,” he said, calling for a more immediate way to communicate with residents and constituents.
Dan Polner, 54, may ring a bell. The 16-year resident of Bellport Village last year mounted a campaign for Brookhaven Town’s Fourth Council District, coming up short to Republican incumbent Michael Loguercio by 1,316 votes. Polner, who is a member of the Bellport Fire Department, lives on Kreamer Street and has two daughters.
Polner says he’s running because he wants to take a more active role in his community and hopes to bring a younger perspective to at-large Long Island issues. “It’s getting more and more expensive for young people to be able to settle down on Long Island, and in Bellport Village, it’s even more so. It’s a tough place to put down roots.”
He’s hoping to serve the village, but also believes the area is under-represented at Brookhaven Town. “We’re an incorporated village, but we still rely on the Town of Brookhaven for services. We should be demanding those services,” Polner said. “And there’s still the issue of the landfill. It matters.”
He said his sense of community and decades of experience working in finance are two elements that make him a strong candidate. “Someone needs to be mindful of how much we’re spending and if we’re getting the best value for the amount we’re spending,” Polner said. “Those types of analyses are needed.”
His main concern is the under-spending that predates the current administration. “We’re now faced with a situation where village taxes are going to rise. There are some projects being discussed that will require bonding. Someone with a financial perspective should be involved in those future discussions at the board level,” he said.
Ultimately, Polner said he hopes to make a difference in his community. “[Bellport] is a beautiful place to live and I’m hopeful that people will remember why I ran for town board. The rationale is basically the same, even though I’ll be focused on a much smaller community.” n
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