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Dering Harbor to elect new leaders: Election slated for next week

Residents of Dering Harbor will go to the polls on Tuesday, Sept. 15 in an election that was postponed by Gov. Cuomo because of the COVID-10 coronavrius pandemic.

The election will decide the village’s mayor and two members of the Board of Trustees. Patrick Parcells, a trustee who was appointed in 2018, is running for mayor. The current mayor, Betsy Morgan, elected in 2018, is not running for re-election because her family is selling their home. Deputy Mayor Karen Kelsey is running for re-election to her seat on the board, and resident Brad Goldfarb is seeking a seat for the first time.

In a statement to the Reporter presenting his reasons for running for mayor, Mr. Parcells briefly re-traced the village’s political history in recent years. “In 2012 we began a campaign to change village leadership in an effort to improve transparency, fairness, communication and financial management. It took some time, but by June of 2018 a new Board of Trustees was in place and the work began in earnest.

“Our budget is now in balance following years of deficits and the village has been removed from a state watch list for financial stress. Village property taxes have been reduced by 25%. Our water distribution system is in the final stage of reconstruction, and thanks to the skilled management of the Suffolk County Water Authority, our drinking water is now pristine and plentiful. A challenging two-year project to digitize village code was just completed.”

Ms. Kelsey said that before she was elected to the board, “many of us requested to be put on village boards and sought to increase communications and defuse the ‘us-versus-them’ culture that persisted. Unfortunately, the boards continued to be dominated by the same small group of hand-picked members and our engagement was rebuffed. Our path to inclusion was difficult, and the election process was controversial, given the numbers of questionable ‘residents.’”

Once in office, she said, “We requested a state audit to analyze the finances and operations of the village, to make sure that we operate efficiently and in accordance with all laws. We engaged well-regarded and experienced accounting and legal professionals to guide us and provide information on best practices from other municipalities.

However, there is more to be done, she added. “We continue to defend a stream of legal proceedings that needlessly drain Village coffers,” Kelsey said. “We need to develop a long-range capital plan with the input of residents to maintain and improve the village.”

Mr. Goldfarb said, “Over the past three years I’ve seen the village transformed by having a group of smart, thoughtful, honest folks running things — a far cry from what we found when we moved here. I’m grateful for the change, but also recognize that being part of such a small community I too must do my part to see that the village remains the well-run, and above all, neighborly place it is today.”

Polls will be open at Village Hall from noon to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 15.