I’d like to introduce myself, provide some background, and let the residents of Patchogue Village know why I am running for the office of Village trustee.
My wife Karen and I moved to Patchogue from Brownstone Brooklyn in August 2002. We picked Patchogue Village because we could get a great house at a great price and because I could commute to NYC on the LIRR, a short walk from the house. We soon discovered that we had many wonderful neighbors and quickly developed many friendships.
Karen and I have always been volunteers. I was a Boy Scout leader and soccer coach when our children were young; Karen was a Girl Scout leader and softball coach as well as a soccer mom before the term was invented; she sat on the board of directors of Catholic Charities’ Bond Street Drop-In Center in Brooklyn; we both belonged to our neighborhood association.
We each found satisfying opportunities in Patchogue. Karen joined the Garden Club, and I volunteered to help out with the Force 5 races in the summer of 2003. My acquaintance with Brian Weeks, then deputy mayor, opened an opportunity to serve on the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). My friendship with Charlie Burton on the ZBA resulted in membership in the Patchogue Lions Club. To become a Lion you are asked why you want to become a Lion; my answer to that is I wanted an opportunity to give back to my community. I have served continuously for over 8 years on the ZBA and am very proud to be associated with the renowned service organization, the Lions Clubs International.
We find Patchogue to be a terrific place to live, full of good people who care about their community and volunteer generously, from the fire department to the service clubs, the Patchogue Garden Club, the Patchogue Arts Council, to the Historical Society, , the , and more—I could fill this page with the list. The members of these organizations give their time and often their money for the betterment of their community and other people’s lives. This volunteerism is a key part of the fabric of our community, an intangible that contributes to what makes us great.
What will I bring to the position of Village Trustee? I believe in fair dealing. I believe that the mayor and all boards must deal fairly and openly with all proposals and projects that come before them. They should not decide on a proposal based on partisan politics or to support an influential constituency. They need to invite and listen to alternative points of view and let dissenting voices have an opportunity to be heard. That said, not all residents, voters, or other constituencies will be in agreement with the decisions that are made.
As a member of the ZBA, I believe that I and my colleagues have followed this principle. We have always dealt fairly with the applications before us and listened to dissenting voices respectfully. We follow the zoning code, but have afforded variances where allowable and appropriate.
During my tenure on the ZBA, we were never unduly influenced by the mayor or any trustee in our decisions. In fact, when administrations changed Mayor Pontieri did not do the politically driven thing and remove those members of the various boards who had opposed him; instead he kept those like me whom he felt were committed to the betterment of the Village. This type of diverse, open minded, community-based administration is the type you want to work with. If I am elected trustee, I will continue to operate as a fair dealer.
If I am elected, I will bring to the table my financial analysis qualifications and a focus on fiscal accountability. I am a licensed financial advisor with a long career in the financial service industry and in research. I am analytical and objective. I’ve had years of budget analysis, productivity improvement, downsizing, and right sizing experience as well as profit and loss responsibilities. Thus, I bring a seasoned set of eyes to Village financial management. I understand the challenges that governments face with ever rising costs as a result of inflation and mandated benefits like health care and pensions and the limits of placing these burdens on taxpayers. If I am elected, I believe that I can use my knowledge and skills to help navigate the financial challenges we face.
In concert with the mayor, I am a believer in “Smart Growth”, the idea of urban planning and transportation that concentrates growth in compact walkable urban centers to avoid sprawl and advocates compact, transit-oriented, walkable, bicycle-friendly land use, including neighborhood schools, complete streets, and mixed-use development with a range of housing choices. Lest anyone misunderstand the term “urban”, please note that the US Census classifies the Village as an urban area based on the number of residents per square mile and has done so for at least 12 years.
Building these communities is not only a means of getting more tax revenue out of our scarce real estate resources, but also totally in line with the demographic trends in our society. Ten-thousand of us turn 65 each day. This trend will be sustained for the next thirty years as the 79 million baby boomers turn 65 and retire. Most empty nesters do not want to live in high maintenance single family homes, and, yes, most of them want to be able to walk to shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues.
Another trend is the lack of affordable housing on Long Island, especially for the young. We need more affordable housing and, yes, rental housing that gives young people the opportunity for quality of life and mobility. By making it possible for young people to live on Long Island, we also increase the opportunities to attract business and industry to Long Island because we will have the employees they need. If I am elected, I will continue to look for Smart Growth opportunities in the Village along with Mayor Pontieri.
Finally, I care deeply about quality of life. Quality of life has two sides to the ledger, the Do side and the Don’t side. On the Do side you find opportunities for employment, education, recreation, parks and civility. The Village does a good job with its responsibility on recreational opportunities and parks. Mayor Pontieri has made a personal crusade for civility and openness for all parties. Just watch him on Main Street. On the Don’t side we find things like litter, noise, garbage, bullying, vandalism, overcrowding, parking, and safety concerns. The Village has made great strides on the Don’t, particularly in overcrowded housing and safety concerns. Our schools are addressing bullying. If I am elected, I will focus even more attention on these areas.
On Tuesday, March 20, please vote for the Team: Mayor Paul Pontieri, Trustee Jack Krieger, Trustee Lori Devlin and me, Tom Ferb, for trustee. Together we will continue to move Patchogue forward to a brighter and more prosperous future.