Election Race in the Harbor

Four candidates make a bid for village mayor

    “The village needs a more open and responsive government,” said Pierce Hance, a former Sag Harbor Village mayor who would like to have his old job back. Mr. Hance is among four candidates in the running for the position.
    “There is too much going on behind the scenes,” he told The Star on Tuesday. “That is not in the public’s interest, in my opinion.”
    As an example, Mr. Hance cited an early-morning special board meeting to decide whether to request additional bids on Havens Beach remediation. “We’ve had problems for years and years,” he said. “Why the rush?” He wondered why there had been no discussion of alternatives, saying that the cause of the pollution was never definitively determined.
    The village is “spending a lot of money down there,” said Mr. Hance. He will run alone, in what he called “an a la carte election,” on the Economy Party ticket.
    Sandra Schroeder, another mayoral candidate, is concerned about Havens Beach “for the kids,” she said by phone this week. The retired 20-year administrator and village clerk said she had not heard much publicly about negotiations with contractors. Mayor Brian Gilbride has said, however, that remediation would be completed by the swimming season.
    A drainage ditch empties into the often contaminated and closed beach. “I had plans for bioremediation,” said Mr. Hance, involving “a marsh system . . . diverting the stream . . . biologically filtering.” Instead, he said, the board has chosen to employ a mechanical filtering system. Even with grant money, he said, “we will still spending about $250,000 of the village money,” not counting maintenance costs, which have yet to be determined.
    The water quality in Sag Harbor Cove is one of Ms. Schroeder’s primary concerns. She wants to know what the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has to say about recent closures there due to fears of paralytic shellfish poisoning. “We need to work with them to curb runoff,” she said. “Sag Harbor is important to me. I grew up here. My grandfather grew up here, and my grandchildren are growing up here.”
    Among other issues on Ms. Schroeder’s agenda are the village sidewalks, which she said are in disrepair and present a safety hazard. “Tree roots need to be ground down,” she said. “I see people fall down.”
    “I’m not looking to spend megabucks,” said Ms. Schroeder, who also would like to see an increase in grant applications. “Any money you can get . . . is money we won’t have to tax our residents,” she said. As for police contract negotiations. she said the issue had been dragged out a long time, which was expensive for taxpayers and not fair either to them or the members of the force.
    “I’m very hopeful to have the honor of being the village mayor,” Ms. Schroeder said on Tuesday. “I’m very concerned about the village. I wouldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t try.” She has strong support from people whom she worked with in her years as village clerk, she said.
    Mayor Gilbride, who won the mayoral race four years ago with a record number of votes, is seeking re-election. He has served on the village board for 19 years, and told The Star recently that he “never missed a meeting.” He said he feels he should stay on as mayor “to see things through.”
     Mr. Gilbride was born and raised in the village and has volunteered for 44 years with the Sag Harbor Fire Department.
    The fourth and final candidate is Bruce Tait, a 12-year member and current chairman of the village’s advisory harbor committee. A resident since 1972 and the owner of a yacht sales business in Sag Harbor for 32 years, Mr. Tait is a founding member of the Breakwater Yacht Club, serving on its board of directors for 25 years.
    Over the phone recently, Mr. Tait expressed frustration that the village board had not listened to its harbor committee, and said he has “not once” had a conversation with Mayor Gilbride. On his campaign’s Facebook page he says he wants the village to be more bike and pedestrian-friendly, to “alleviate traffic and parking headaches,” and hopes for progress, including village-wide input, on the future of Long Wharf. The harbor and waterfront are some of the village’s biggest and best assets, he writes, and he hopes to use the Local Waterfront Revitalization Project “as the lens through which we can view all future development.”
    Mr. Tait said his business experience made him capable of negotiating contracts that will “preserve and improve the quality of life that we all enjoy,” which, he said, “means having a police force that can do the job they are tasked for.”
    A candidate forum organized by The Sag Harbor Express will take place on June 9 from 3 to 5 p.m. at Pierson High School. Balloting will be at the Sag Harbor Fire Department on Brick Kiln Road on June 18, from noon to 9 p.m.