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 all week at 6:30 p.m. for spotlights on each mayor candidate, and next week for videos from the trustee candidates.
Candidate: Mayor (incumbent)
Party: Patchogue 2012
Patch: Why have you decided to seek office and what makes you qualified to serve as a trustee/mayor?
Pontieri: I have been mayor for the past eight years and during that time there has been a dramatic change in the Village: from the removal of blighted boarding houses to make way for the Copper Beech Town Houses, to the upgrading of the to name a few. The greatest accomplishment has been the change in attitude of people about our Village; the influx of young families into the new town house developments, the success of , the thriving restaurants, and the in the Village of Patchogue.
Having lived in the Village my whole life, I know the job is not done, I am asking the residents to allow me to finish the job I started.
Patch: What are your thoughts on Patchogue's growth over the past five years?
Pontieri: The positive growth started seven years ago with , it told investors that Patchogue was the place to be…the restaurants came, Bay Village was built which replaced two notorious boarding houses, we secured funding to build a new waste water treatment plant, and we jumped into the 21st century as the number one village on Long Island.
Patch: What are the two biggest issues Patchogue still faces?
Pontieri: Building on our success in bringing investment to the Village. Keeping the focus on improving the quality of life in our neighborhoods; which include safe streets, dealing with overcrowded housing, repairing and paving our street, sidewalks, etc. And doing all of this while keeping our tax rate stable.
Patch: Are you for or against project and why?
Pontieri: It is critical that the $110 million New Village Development be completed. Half of the Four Corners has been vacant for over twelve years, and we cannot allow it to remain vacant for another ten years. The new rental homes, plus the 40,000 sq. ft. of new retail and the 15,000 sq. ft of office will put “feet on the street” and fill the vacant stores with new and exciting retail. The development is geared to empty nesters and young adults making between $60,000 and $120,000 a year.
I have lived in this village my entire life, I was born here and would never support anything that would harm or change the character of Patchogue Village, but I am committed to moving forward.
Patch: What kind of time commitment would you be able to put toward the mayor/trustee position?
Pontieri: I am a full time mayor and even when I worked as an educator, or business owner I was as always close to the Village and could meet with residents or businesses people when needed. Most of the Village's previous mayors were also full time mayors who, because their businesses, were located in and around Patchogue and were always available to devote the time necessary to do important Village business. A major part of my success as mayor to the fact that I can devote the time needed to travel to Albany or Washington, D.C. and make the case to government officials for the grants and investment that has moved our Village forward. I don't know how anyone could do the job if they were only willing to be involved part time.
Patch: In what ways would you reach out to Patchogue's large Hispanic community?
Pontieri: Since I became mayor I have worked with Hispanic Community and each year we meet to discuss issues involving building, housing, public safety and recreation and that will continue. I also attend the Lucero Foundation meetings, and support important Hispanic cultural events.
Patch: What's your goal for the makeup of Patchogue's Main Street at the end of the next four years?
Pontieri: The make-up of Main St will be driven by the New Village development. With new residents come shops and restaurants and necessary economic activity that will keep our Main Street vibrant and successful.
Patch: There are many vacancies on Main Street; how would you propose enticing new businesses to open up in Patchogue?
Pontieri: Again without people on the street, businesses will not expand or relocate here. Who would want to invest in a place where the heart of Village, the Four Corners, is blighted and empty.
Patch: What are three of your hobbies?
Pontieri: Unfortunately, if you want to do it right, the job of mayor and the time it requires to make Patchogue a better place, limits your hobbies.
Patch: How would your best friends/family describe you?
Pontieri: Loyal, hard working, cares deeply about his family, committed to those he works for and the Village of Patchogue and has vision and is open to new ideas and does not fear change, but instead embraces the challenges of change.
Check back Thursday at 6:30 p.m. for the profile of Elisabeth McGuire, mayoral candidate from Residents First, and Friday at 6:30 p.m. for the profile of Richard Evans, mayor candidate from Progress For All. Trustee candidate profiles will begin to run Monday, March 12.