Sea Cliff voters on March 21 will choose among three candidates for two trustee positions — an incumbent seeking a second term, an appointed trustee facing his first village election and a resident not allied with any current board member.
Trustee Dina Epstein, 54, an attorney, was first elected in 2015 and said she has been deeply involved in village government for the past 16 years, including serving on the zoning board of appeals and environmental conservation commission.
“I think knowledge of the way government works, and experience, is invaluable,” said Epstein, who touted a tax reduction for veterans and flat taxes for others as among the board’s accomplishments.
Mayor Edward Lieberman appointed Jeffrey Vitale to the board in December. Vitale made an unsuccessful run in November against Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove). Until recently, Vitale, 32, worked as a grant writer for the Town of Oyster Bay and this month became a zoning inspector trainee in the town planning department. Government grants are key to funding village programs and keeping down village taxes, he said.
“I do have a wealth of information on things we can do, and different funding streams we can access, for these projects,” he said.
Epstein and Vitale are running on the Civic Progress slate.
Deb McDermott, 49, who works in business development and previously was in corporate communications, said that as an independent candidate not affiliated with other board members, she “could bring more independent thinking” to the position. “I could bring a broader perspective,” she said.
McDermott, chairwoman of the Legislative Action Committee of the North Shore Board of Education, is running with the recently formed Sea Cliff Open Government Party. She is calling for meeting agendas to be posted online in advance, for meetings to be streamed on the village website and for more detailed meeting minutes.
McDermott said the Nov. 28 resignation of Mayor Bruce Kennedy, his appointment as village administrator and the selection of then-Councilman Edward Lieberman as the new mayor illustrated a lack of transparency by the board.
Epstein said she’s aware of only one village board meeting that McDermott has attended, although McDermott said she’s attended multiple meetings and spoken at several.
A key issue in Sea Cliff is the Garvies Point waterfront development in neighboring Glen Cove, which all three candidates oppose.
The Village of Sea Cliff in 2015 sued to stop the project, which broke ground in December. In August, a State Supreme Court judge in Nassau County dismissed the village’s suit, and another filed by 105 area residents. Plaintiffs in both suits are appealing.
“I’m completely in favor of our lawsuit,” Epstein said. “I voted in favor of it.”
McDermott is a plaintiff in the other lawsuit.
Vitale said that if the lawsuits are unsuccessful, the village needs to plan how to deal with the traffic, environmental and other effects of Garvies Point.