On Monday, Highway Superintendent and Commissioner of Public Works Jay Card Jr. officially steps down from his posts.
To help his children with college loans and other expenses, Jay has decided to go back to working for himself and a partner in the landscaping business.
After serving 20 years as a Shelter Island Police Department officer, he ran for highway chief in the fall of 2009 and lost. Characteristic of Jay, he didn’t fold his tent, but ran again in 2012, and was elected to a two-year term, followed by two more, running unopposed. The latter is an important key to his career. People in both political camps and residents across the board recognized the quality of service he has given to his hometown.
By all accounts, he has been one of the most successful public servants in his dual roles in Island history.
His leadership, vision, dedication and bulldog determination to do the best for his community are rare qualities in a public servant.
Jay fought for sensible planning to be sure the infrastructure we all depend on — roads, the Recycling Center, public buildings, parks and beaches — doesn’t fall apart because some officials, who were penny wise and pound foolish, didn’t see that if resources weren’t allocated for the future, physical foundations would crumble, requiring more money to repair a catastrophe than reasonable year-to-year maintenance.
When snow fell, when roads flooded, the Highway Department was quick and efficient clearing roads. Crews worked day and night until they were safe for all of us. This was an example of a department led by strength and intelligence.
As journalists, we applaud Jay for helping us to be a conduit of information to the community. He never turned down a request for an interview, and there were mornings before dawn in a blizzard when he would give us a quick update on the progress of crews battling the storm and what motorists could expect if they were going out.
There are many instances of how he has made the Island a better place. Just one that comes to mind is when a resident with disabilities requested an easier method to access the water of our beaches. Jay quickly found money in his budget to purchase what’s known as a “beach wheelchair,” so all residents and guests can enjoy the water.
Often, when Town Board members or residents would mention the word “dump” at a public session, we could hear Jay in the back of the room saying, “Recycling Center, please.”
It always brought a laugh, but he mentioned it not for humor or an example of politically correct usage, but to make an important distinction. Jay knows that recycling is a crucial tool in the battle to save our environment. And for those who work at the Recycling Center, some respect for what they do is in the name of the place where they work.
We wish Jay well, and thank him for his foresight, hard work and never-failing commitment to Shelter Island.