With the Patchogue Village Mayoral Election coming up on March 20, Patchogue Patch has sat down with all of the candidates for Q&A and for a quick video pitch on why you should vote for them. Check back to Patchogue Patch this week for spotlights on the trustee candidates from Patchogue 2012 and Residents First.
Party: Residents First
Patch: Why have you decided to seek office and what makes you qualified to serve as a trustee/mayor?
Ihne: I view a trusteeship as an exceptional opportunity to serve the Patchogue Village community. As a fourth-generation resident of Patchogue, I know the community well and want to see the Village offer all residents a high quality of life. My qualifications are well suited to a trusteeship. Recently I obtained a doctoral degree in Educational Administration. I’m the principal of a school with approximately 90 employees and 400 students. My leadership style is open and democratic. I welcome and respect the input of all stakeholders. As a trustee, I would encourage residents to get involved and would work hard to advance their interests. I’m confident that my abilities, knowledge, experience, and commitment to public service would enable me to be an especially effective trustee.
Patch: What are your thoughts on Patchogue's growth over the past five years?
Ihne: The is our greatest downtown asset and has helped drive Patchogue’s economic growth in the last decade. It has attracted new restaurants to the Village, many of which are thriving after 6 p.m. However, downtown Patchogue won’t reach its full potential unless the Village attracts more daytime foot traffic by providing service and retail based businesses. Additional housing stock is not the answer. Patchogue is already overdeveloped in terms of high-density housing. To prevent further overcrowding, the Village should not support the construction of any additional housing but should focus on businesses that will enhance the existing community.
Patch: What are the two biggest issues Patchogue still faces?
Ihne: In my view, the two biggest problems are reduced services to residents and increased taxes and fees. Housing overdevelopment has strained the Village’s ability to provide adequate services and maintain the necessary infrastructure. For example, the Village no longer operates a bus for senior citizens, many Village roads need repair, recycling services have decreased, and Code Enforcement coverage has been reduced. Over the past eight years, taxes and fees have significantly increased, causing hardship to many Village residents. The solution to decreased services is not to raise taxes but to eliminate wasteful spending and to increase tax revenues by helping Patchogue businesses to succeed.
Patch: Are you for or against project and why?
Ihne: I don’t support Tritec’s New Village project. The current plan for 291 rental apartments calls for 60 apartments per square acre. Patchogue is only 2.2 square miles. The project would increase crowding, traffic, and parking problems and further strain services. Soon Patchogue could lose its village charm and turn into a city. As currently conceived, Tritec’s New Village project would benefit Tritec, not Village residents. The original development plan was to build retail businesses, office facilities, and a hotel. That plan would have benefitted the Village by enhancing the downtown business district.
Patch: What kind of time commitment would you be able to put toward the mayor/trustee position?
Ihne: As a trustee, I would devote as much time as necessary to do the job thoroughly and effectively.
Patch: In what ways would you reach out to Patchogue's large Hispanic community?
Ihne: Having been an educator and administrator in a multicultural setting for many years, I know that everyone benefits when all stakeholders are included in decision-making and are fully respected. Like school systems, Village Hall must be sensitive to cultural diversity and work for residents of all ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. With regard to the Hispanic community in particular, I would seek the ongoing input of Hispanic residents. David Ochoa is just one example of a member of the Hispanic community whose input has been invaluable. A successful businessman and outstanding community leader, he makes decisions that benefit not only the Hispanic community but all Patchogue residents.
Patch: What's your goal for the makeup of Patchogue's Main Street at the end of the next four years?
Ihne: I would like to see more businesses thriving on Main Street. I also think the Village would benefit if the Patchogue Theatre presented more shows based on resident feedback. Finally, I think Tritec’s New Village should follow the original plan of building retail businesses, office facilities, and a hotel, not high-density housing.
Patch: There are many vacancies on Main Street; how would you propose enticing new businesses to open up in Patchogue?
Ihne: I would encourage property owners to offer businesses incentives to set up in Patchogue. The property owners should work closely with Village Hall, the Patchogue Chamber of Commerce, and the Business Improvement District.
Patch: What are three of your hobbies?
Ihne: I especially enjoy reading, baking, and doing volunteer work.
Patch: How would your best friends/family describe you?
Ihne: I believe they would describe me as dedicated, energetic, and compassionate.