3-way race for 2 North Haven trustee seats

Jeffrey Sander, Arthur "Jim" Laspesa and Mary Whelan

Jeffrey Sander, Arthur "Jim" Laspesa and Mary Whelan are running for the two open seats on the North Haven board. (Credit: Handouts)

When North Haven resident Mary Whelan, 56, decided to run for a village trustee seat, the clerk told her she needed a party name to run on. She picked a memorable one -- the Daffodil Party.

It's one of the first flowers to pop up in North Haven in the spring and it comes back every year, she explained.

And, she added, "It's the one flower that seems resistant to deer. I thought people might be able to relate to it."


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Deer control, as it turns out, is an issue for all three candidates running for the two open seats on the village board.

Jeffrey Sander, 70, a trustee for the past six years, is running for re-election.

Arthur "Jim" Laspesa, 65, an architect, has been a member of the village's planning board since 1987 and chairman since 1992.

Both Sander, a retired IBM executive, and Laspesa are members of the North Haven Party.

North Haven is a wooded piece of land jutting into Peconic Bay, connected to Sag Harbor and the rest of the South Fork by a bridge and a road.

"The village's primary purpose is to make sure it's beautiful and preserved and meets the aesthetic desire residents have," Sander said.

North Haven's 800 residents share the land, sometimes unhappily, with its other major inhabitants -- deer.

Sander said the deer are a constant issue, primarily because of the tick-borne diseases they help spread.

Some islands in Maine have shown that by reducing deer populations, conditions such as Lyme disease have gone down, he said.

The village has a bow hunting season, but Sander said it could get more aggressive in getting residents' approval for hunting on their lands.

The village, he said, also could buy a refrigerated truck so hunters could deposit their venison, which would be taken to food pantries, encouraging hunters to harvest more deer. The Town of Southold has such a truck.

Besides that, Sander said the village has to monitor water quality and overall quality of life.

Laspesa said that having served on the planning board, he has knowledge of land use issues in the village. His primary concern is residents on the waterfront who want to improve their views by clearing vegetation straight to the bluffs.

"Once you take the vegetation away, the bluff or shoreline erodes," Laspesa said. The runoff goes elsewhere and "creates havoc on the shoreline."

Getting residents who over-clear their land to replant, he said, is very difficult.

Both Sander and Laspesa said they haven't spotted Whelan at many village board meetings.

"Perhaps she should look at getting involved in the village in some function," Sander suggested.

Whelan doesn't dispute that she's a newcomer.

Her pitch, she said, is that she could bring a new set of eyes to the town's problems -- noise from landscapers, traffic during the busy summer season and, of course, deer.

"I don't know in what way I would do things differently," Whelan said. "I can add different ideas with my background."

Being new to politics, she said she was "stunned" when the North Haven Party challenged her nominating petition. Her candidacy was upheld by the county Board of Elections.

Laspesa said he'd prefer to leave the deer issue to others.

"The deer have been around for so long, for me, I just wish it would go away," he said, adding that he's more interested in the village acquiring open space and preserving land on North Haven. "I'll take land planning and open space, let someone else take the deer."

Voting will be held June 18 from noon to 9 p.m. at Village Hall, 335 Ferry Rd., Sag Harbor.

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