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Incumbents seek new terms; Dougherty, Brach-Williams on why they’re running



In a time of exodus from Town Hall, two incumbents are asking the voters to let them stay put.

Supervisor  Jim Dougherty, 80, a Democrat seeking his sixth term as supervisor, and Republican Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams, 55, are running for new terms on the Town Board.

Asked by the Reporter why he was running again, Mr. Dougherty referenced the “unprecedented turnover at Town Hall” and a need for “continuity of people with a depth of experience, at both the volunteer and elected level to effectively address those issues critical to the future of the unique community we are fortunate to call home.”

REPORTER FILE PHOTO Supervisor Jim Dougherty

REPORTER FILE PHOTO Supervisor Jim Dougherty

Mr. Dougherty mentioned the resignation of Town Engineer John Cronin (see story page 7), and the retirement of Councilwoman Chris Lewis, Town Attorney Laury Dowd, Planning Board Chairman Paul Mobius, in a addition to, in recent years, the retirement of long-serving Councilmen Peter Reich and Ed Brown.

Ms. Brach-Williams, a Republican, told the Reporter she’s running for reelection because, as a first-termer, “I’m just hitting my stride and want to continue. Even though the position can be challenging at times, I find it interesting and I enjoy it.”

She added that she brings a “different dimension in terms of skill set and demographic to the makeup of the board.”

REPORTER FILE PHOTO Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams

REPORTER FILE PHOTO Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams

With the retirement of Ms. Lewis, if reelected, Ms. Brach-Williams would be the only woman on the board. She also owns a business as a certified public accountant with A & A Williams in the Center.

On issues facing the Island, Mr. Dougherty stated his long-time mantra of “ticks, taxes and the aquifer,” but added “the environment,” and balancing “the inevitable, continued development pressures with our commitment to preserve Shelter Island’s wonderful uniqueness and beautiful environment.”

Mr. Dougherty is committed to keeping taxes at “ dramatically low levels,” but providing services residents “expect and deserve.”

Speaking of ticks, the supervisor said he believes the best method of reducing them and the diseases they carry, is a combination of 4-poster units — feeding stands that brush deer with a tickicide, permethrin — plus incentives to hunters to cull the deer herd and educating the public. He also mentioned “additional weapons” of introducing tick eating birds to the Island.

Both Mr. Dougherty and Ms. Brach-Williams noted that the water quality problem was at the top of their lists to solve.

The councilwoman said “water quality concerns have popped up in a variety of areas with high nitrate concerns in the Center, Fresh Pond pollutants and saltwater intrusion in the near shore overlay.”

Mr. Dougherty said he was expecting the board to be asked “to continue adopting measures to protect our aquifer and our surrounding waters, building on our recent initiatives to introduce monthly quality testing of our aquifer and devising, with the assistance of our recently-formed volunteer committee, programs using up to 20 percent of our annual 2 percent open space [Community Preservation Fund] revenues for aquifer-protection measures.”

Ms. Brach-Williams is the only candidate, so far, to identify affordable housing, as crucial issue the board should address. “I am concerned about workforce housing,” she said. “We will someday, in the not-too-distant future, have most of the people who work here, commuting here, if we don’t look for solutions now.”

Continuing that theme, Ms. Brach-Williams said “the Town Board needs to become more proactive rather than reactive in addressing the issues that face us in all areas. Trying to stay ahead of what comes at us will define our success.”

Asked for his most significant accomplishment in his term as supervisor, Mr. Dougherty said it was keeping taxes low “while leading my talented town team in delivering on our obligations to our friends and neighbors.”

Ms. Brach-Williams said she ranks her accomplishments during her short time on the board as evaluating “all sides of an issue with an open mind. I’m also a level-headed problem solver.” She said she’s proud of focusing on constituent services and has become one who “staff and constituents seek out to voice concerns when they feel they haven’t been heard.”

As an accountant and businesswoman, Ms. Brach-Williams said her “strong suit is my financial background, which I’ve brought to work on the grants committee, evaluating highway and public works needs” as well as being named the Shelter Island representative to the Suffolk County Shared Services Panel,” an initiative to find ways to save money by sharing services with other municipalities.