Two new members join the Brightwaters Village board

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The Brightwaters village board has two new faces.

Trustee John Lawlor resigned at the end of June, said village Mayor Joe McDermott, leaving an empty seat on the board along with McDermott's former trustee seat that he vacated when he was elected mayor in June.

When reached by phone, Lawlor declined to comment on why he resigned. He was elected to the board in June 2013.

McDermott appointed residents Christian Sullivan and Bernadette Whitwell to serve as trustees, and they were sworn in at Monday's village board meeting.

Sullivan is the campus minister at St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens and has lived in the village for eight years, while Whitwell is a Brightwaters native and former college lacrosse coach at schools such as Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Both currently serve on the village's Parks Committee.

"I was looking for someone that was team-oriented," McDermott said of the appointed trustees.

At Monday's meeting, the board also voted to hire a new accounting firm to handle the village's audits. The previous firm, Sheehan & Co. of Brightwaters, charged the village $34,000 last year to prepare financial reports and the audit, McDermott said.

After a request for proposals, the board awarded the new audit contract to Skinnon & Farber of Islandia, who will charge the village $12,000 annually. The village clerk will prepare the financial reports and the new firm will handle audits, according to McDermott.

Donna Periconi, the president of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Bay Shore, criticized the decision at the meeting, saying that the lowest bidder was not always the right choice.

After the meeting, McDermott said the choice was a simple financial decision. "Three firms got back to us, and we took the lowest bid," he said. "It's a good policy anyway -- any municipality should switch financial firms every three to five years."

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McDermott hopes to reinstitute the village board's monthly work sessions. The next one is scheduled for Aug. 25 at 7 p.m. at Village Hall.

He said he felt hopeful about the new direction of the village board, after the fractious meetings of the previous board under longtime Mayor Joseph McNulty.

"It's a team approach," he said. "We might have differences of opinion, but we all have the same goal -- to show people the workings of the village. Let people in. Let people be part of the process of the village."

"Change is hard and people are afraid of change," he added. "But I think people are starting to see that change can be good."

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