Patchogue Village Mayor Paul Pontieri has the New Village project a "$100 million investment" in the community that will generate jobs, bring in revenue and save a blighted corner.
Elisabeth McGuire, running for mayor this year on the Residents First banner, says the project could "lead to the long term demise of our Village" and she is a member of a group which has filed that have stalled construction on the massive development at the Four Corners.
Ever since the Board of Trustees 4-3 to approve the project last March, the debate over the project has only picked up steam and now with Village elections just a couple months away, it's one of the defining points of difference between the two political parties seeking office.
The Residents First party, formally known as Patchogue First, is anchored by McGuire running for mayor, with a trustee candidate slate of incumbent Stephen McGiff, as well as Greg Powers and Lisa Ihne.
The Residents First platform is based on making significant changes to Village government and high-density housing initiatives.
While kicking off her last week, McGuire said she would propose changing the project, which is slated to include 291-apartments, 40,000 square feet of retail and office space, into a compromise plan to meet what she states are “the critical needs of our residents and surrounding small businesses, and ensure adequate parking and traffic flow.”
McGuire also proposes to drastically reduce the , which is $36,000. Trustees currently earn $12,000. Pontieri that the Village Board of Trustees unanimously voted for both increases.
McGuire said, if elected, she planned to cut taxes, while also increasing Village services for its residents.
“Our residents pay more in taxes than residents outside the Village and deserve enhanced services like the preferred resident parking offered in Port Jefferson,” McGuire said in her speech.
She also proposes increased objective code enforcement and a change in management at the .
“I am very proud of the slate of candidates we assembled and am looking forward to talking to the residents and hearing their concerns,” McGuire said in a statement to Patch. “I am confident we have the skills and the professional experience necessary to bring Patchogue to the next level."
McGuire and McGiff formally were working with Pontieri as part of the Patchogue First political party with incumbent trustees Jack Krieger and Lori Devlin. The party ran together in 2004 and unopposed in the 2008 mayoral election. This ended during the summer of 2011, and was publicly announced in a written by McGiff and Village Trustee Gerard Crean that blasted the mayor on a number of issues they had with Pontieri.
McGiff said that he chose not to run for mayor under the Residents First banner in order to show that his previous actions were not politically motivated.
“I didn’t want people to say that my actions were political that I wanted to be mayor. I told Paul last year that I had no desire to be mayor and that I wasn’t making this break for personal reasons,” McGiff told Patch at the Residents First candidate announcement.
Pontieri said at his that while he isn’t opposed to competition, he believed the other side was putting a lot of personal focus on him and not on its own platform.
“There is nothing wrong with elections, there is nothing wrong with the debate," Pontieri said, "but the debate should be about issues. The problem is they have made the debate about people, they haven’t made it about about issues."
Both the Residents First and Patchogue 2012 parties may also face competition from the NU (Now United) Village party, which is yet to announce candidates but has posted its principles on its website.
The election, which will take place on March 20, will have two types of votes. The mayoral campaign, which will take place between Pontieri, McGuire, and the NU Village candidate will be one election.
All trustee candidates are in a separate election and the top-three vote getters will receive a seat. Incumbent trustees Lori Devlin and Jack Krieger, as well as Tom Ferb are running on the Patchogue 2012 ticket.