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Town Board candidates forum is Sunday afternoon


On Sunday, October 8 between 1 and 3 p.m. the League of Women Voters of Shelter Island and Shelter Island Association are joining forces to present a candidates forum at the school auditorium.

It’s an opportunity to question incumbent Democrat Supervisor Jim Dougherty, 80, and Republican challenger Gary Gerth, 75, about their visions for the town and to hear from incumbent Republican Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams, 55, and challengers Democrat Albert Dickson, 64, and Republican Marcus Kaasik, 48, about their views. They are vying for two board seats.

Both parties have endorsed Highway Superintendent Jay Card Jr., Town Clerk Dorothy Ogar and assessors Craig Wood and Patricia Castoldi. All will be introduced at the forum and allowed a brief statement, and Mr. Card will remain after the forum to answer questions from voters, according to League President Lois B. Morris.

Mr. Dougherty has been running on his record of keeping taxes low, arguing against efforts to set up funds for ongoing maintenance of town assets. In his letter to the editor in last week’s Reporter, he said there was more than $1.3 million in the town’s “rainy day” fund to meet any unanticipated needs.

Mr. Gerth believes his approach to issues of water quality and quantity would be more prudent and his approach to tick problems more aggressive.

Ms. Brach-Williams said she’s just hitting her stride and as a certified public accountant brings strength to issues involving spending. With the retirement of Councilwoman Chris Lewis, Ms. Brach-Williams notes she would be the only woman on the Town Board if she is re-elected.

Mr. Kaasik has aimed his fire at Mr. Dougherty, arguing that the supervisor is “divisive.” He believes the town needs less regulation than has been imposed in recent years. He’s also said he doesn’t believe there will be any serious move toward providing affordable housing on the Island as long as Mr. Dougherty is in office.

Mr. Dickson chairs the town’s Water Advisory Committee and said he would work to control problems of excessive draw-down of the water table, septic influence and runoff contributing to deterioration of bays and creeks.

He favors establishing community housing to ensure seniors, veterans and young working families can afford to live on the Island. He also wants a more aggressive effort to rid the town of deer and tick problems.

While the political parties may schedule meet the candidates events, this is the only opportunity to hear from all the candidates as they go head-to-head with one another before the November 7 election.

The forum won’t address a proposition that will appear on the ballot in November asking if residents throughout the state favor opening a constitutional convention.

Ms. Morris said she expects to write about the pros and cons of the proposition that will appear in a future edition of the Reporter.