Running to include community in decisions
Cheryl Felice is running for town board this year in District 4. Her campaign focuses on alleviating harmful issues from the landfill and smarter development practices
BY GLENN ROHRBACKER
Cheryl Felice is running for Brookhaven Town Council in the 4th District. A Democrat, she will face incumbent Michael Loguercio in the November election. She decided to run shortly after the town approved a referendum making the term length four years, realizing she would have to wait that long if she didn’t run now. Felice was approached by residents within the district, as well as the Brookhaven Democratic Committee, encouraging her to run.
Felice, 62, grew up in Patchogue and now lives in Bellport. She is the president of the South Country Board of Education, and has been for three years, and a board member of the Bellport Hagerman East Patchogue Alliance. She’s a former board member of the Bellport Boys & Girls Club and Public Employees Conference, and a past president of National Women’s Political Caucus. She also co-founded the Patchogue Youth Athletic Association’s Girls League and is a past member and director of the Patchogue Lioness Lions Club.
Felice led the Bureau of Criminal Identification for the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office and was the longest-serving executive board member and president of the Suffolk County Association of Municipal Employees. In running for town council, she hopes to give the residents a voice and bring a balance to the board that allows for new ideas.
“All voices need to be heard,” Felice said in an interview.
Her main issue will be fixing the problems at the town landfill, which is a common issue among all Democrats in the town races this year, but which falls in Felice’s district. She said the town has ignored its responsibilities in mitigating the harmful effects of the landfill on residents, and needs to take further action. Felice was named a member of a community group in 2016, which looked at how to deal with the landfill. She highlighted her involvement with the testing done in South Country at Frank P. Long Intermediate School, which found no irregularities over legal limits. She added that the district moved to still improve the school, replacing doors and windows and looking for other solutions. She also said the town has lacked communication with the public and has kept them in the dark about efforts to curb the smells.
“I think the education and experience I’ve had will only strengthen my resolve to help the district in a greater capacity,” Felice said.
To deal with the landfill, Felice said she and other Democratic candidates are in talks with other municipalities to see how they deal with waste management. She also wants to get the community involved and get more input on possible solutions. Felice added that the town should be stricter on their own efforts in terms of regulation to prevent problems from escalating.
“The town needs to be as vigilant on their own operations as they have [been] on local business,” she said.
Another issue for the candidate is “responsible development” and making sure the communities that are built in have a say in potential projects. She said too many projects get started and then are derided by the community, so more chances for input are needed before something begins. Felice said she would be a voice for residents on the Crest project in North Bellport, which was met with mixed reviews earlier this year. She said the community is at a disadvantage since Loguercio has recused himself on advice of counsel, and the five remaining members will vote on the project, all of who do not live in the district.
Felice also wants to make changes to the town building department in order to streamline permitting and other efforts for residents to perform work. She also wants to see additional oversight of other town agencies, which she said has been lacking from the current board. She added that she would like to see the town board meet at more convenient times for residents who may want to attend.
Although a lifelong resident of the South Shore, Felice said her experience as a union leader representing members across the county has helped her make connections in the northern areas of the district, which stretches to towns like Coram, Middle Island and parts of Ridge.
Felice wants voters to consider her long tenure in public service and commitment to helping others. She plans to retire at the end of this year so she can give her full attention to the job.
“Whenever I’ve faced adversity, I face it head-on,” she said. “I’m not afraid to step up.”
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