Economy at core of Bellport trustee race
The three candidates for two open Bellport trustee seats agree on one thing: the local economy is the top issue facing the village.
"Bellport is a wonderful place to live," said Leslie O'Connor, who is running against incumbents Dorothy A. Terwilliger and Alison L. Neumann. "But like any small community, we're facing some difficult economic times. It's important that we involve as many community people as possible and look for ways to increase our revenue."
O'Connor, 56, is a homemaker who has been active on the Bellport school district's PTAs and volunteers for Mary Immaculate Church and the Bellport Bay Sailing Foundation. A native of Rhode Island, she moved to Bellport in 1990.
O'Connor, who is running on the Optimist line, said she felt the current four-member board wasn't communicating effectively with residents. She criticized the board for announcing the creation of a master plan committee a couple of months ago at a sparsely attended meeting instead of using the village's website. "That's one of the examples about the lack of commitment to the community," she said.
Terwilliger, 59, is running on the Bellport First line for her second two-year term on the board. A case manager for Islip Town, Terwilliger grew up in Westhampton Beach and moved to Bellport in 1996.
Terwilliger said in her first term she helped reinstitute the village's senior services. She also said she provides an underrepresented voice on the board. "There seemed to be a division in the village. It was important to me that a working person was part of the board," she said. "There are a lot of retirees on the board but a lot of Bellport is working people."
The village needs to find ways to bolster revenue, Terwilliger said. "The biggest challenge is still going to be how to preserve our amenities and get creative on how to help our revenue."
Neumann, 59, is also seeking her second term and running on the Bellport First line. A retired insurance administrator, Neumann grew up in Bellport.
"Obviously, like everybody else, when the financial climate is so bad we have to try and maintain your amenities," she said. "We have a golf course, we have a beach, we have a downtown. We have to make sure taxes are kept down so we don't tax our residents right out of the village."
She noted that the board met the state's tax cap in this year's $4.49 million budget and also put aside money for reserves.
Voting will be Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Bellport Community Center at 4 Bell St.