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Mayor and Team to Run Unopposed in East Hampton Village

Wed, 05/15/2024 - 15:51
Chris Minardi, left, Jerry Larsen, and Sandra Melendez

Tuesday at 5 p.m. marked the cutoff for the submission of petitions to get on the ballot for the June elections in East Hampton Village, and with no one other than Mayor Jerry Larsen, Deputy Mayor Christopher Minardi, and Sandra Melendez, a village board member, submitting a petition, the incumbents will run unopposed. 

Barring an unexpected write-in campaign, the three will be elected to new four-year terms on Tuesday, June 25.

“It’s a huge undertaking if they want to challenge us,” Mayor Larsen said by phone on Tuesday evening. “We run as a team. If you’re going to try to beat one of us, you’re really going to be taking on all three of us. I’m certainly very happy there’s no opposition and I think it’s because most village residents are very happy.”

He cited the renovations at Herrick Park, fleets of new trucks for the Fire Department and the Department of Public Works, and the dredging of Town Pond as visible improvements that came at no cost to village residents and may have helped to deter any potential challengers.

“On top of that, this is the third year we’re lowering taxes,” he said.

Of criticisms he’s received over his handling of the East Hampton Village Ambulance Association, which lost at least 12 longtime volunteers when the village took over operational control of the ambulance by creating a Department of Emergency Medical Service, he said, “The ambulance in my opinion has been a huge success and has only benefited the residents. Why is making the ambulance professionalized a bad thing? There’s nothing wrong with trying to make it better.”

He listed two top priorities for a second term: a village justice court and a sewer system.

“A justice court would give us more control over our residents’ fines. It will cost money to establish, but looking at Sag Harbor and Southampton Villages, both of their courts are very profitable. There’s no reason to believe our court wouldn’t be profitable as well.”

Establishing a sewer system was a goal of Mayor Larsen’s first term as well. However, his plan to place a wastewater treatment plant under the long-term parking lot of Lumber Lane failed to receive approval from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The village now plans to place the plant adjacent to its Department of Public Works building, at 172 Accabonac Road, outside of village limits.

“We have an intermunicipal agreement with the town that the village is guaranteed 10 percent from the community preservation fund.” Money for the fund comes from a 2-percent tax on most real estate transfers. “The village contributes about 40 percent to the fund. I had a nice meeting with the town supervisor when she was elected and negotiated a new contract for the village. Now, we are allowed to use 20 percent of the 10 percent we receive from the C.P.F. for water quality projects. That’s a huge deal for the village because we don’t have that much open space left. If we bond a sewer system, we’ll have the money to pay back that bond,” he said.

“We’re right in the watershed for Hook and Georgica Ponds. This would be a big help to get the ponds healthy, but the other benefit is that we can have more wet uses in the village, which would also bring vitality back to the downtown. I think we’ve done very well with that already, but this would help even more.”

Mayor Larsen said he was also very proud that he instituted mandatory mental health screening for village police officers and dispatchers. “Making it mandatory makes mental health a non-stigma. It becomes just another thing they have to do, like going to firearms training.”

When asked why he’s running for a second term, Mr. Minardi, a title insurer, said, “First of all, I’m having a lot of fun. I really enjoy it. I love the team I’m on, and I really like working with the village employees.” Mr. Minardi’s areas of supervision are the beaches, planning, and zoning.

“I enjoy the work at the beach. I want to find the balance between zoning and what can be changed to make the village better without being a detriment. Everything can be fine-tuned. Our boards are working well. We just want to try and keep it up. I have plenty to keep me busy, but I’m having a really good time.”

“Competition is always welcome, but it’s nice to be unopposed,” said Ms. Melendez, a lawyer. “It shows we’re doing something good, and the people are happy.”

Ms. Melendez is the village board’s liaison to the Department of Public Works. She says her focus is on village beautification. “The first thing I did when I was elected was get the street sweeper, and the baskets with the flowers. I love the trash cans we got, the little changes. I ran to create community and to make it better for my kids. We fixed the park and I’m really proud of that. Those are the things I want to continue and so that’s why I’m going to run.”

 

 

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