The three challengers vying to replace the mayor and two trustees in Babylon Village on March 19 say they want to improve the business atmosphere, encourage participation in government and focus on public safety.
Kathy Hoffman, a legal assistant who headed the athletic board of CYO Long Island for a decade, is challenging Mayor Ralph Scordino, a four-term mayor who was a trustee for 15 years, for the village's top post.
Hoffman, 61, said she’d like to make getting village approvals for businesses easier.
“I think we can set a better tone to be more welcoming and user friendly,” she said. “If not here, they’ll go somewhere else.”
She also wants to make the meetings of various boards more welcoming for the public and encourage more participation, she said.
“I think it’s very intimidating for people who do want to participate.”
Scordino, 70, pointed out that all village meetings are public, and residents are encouraged to speak during them.
He noted the village has a Facebook page to help keep residents informed and, two years ago, he started a regular Saturday-morning “coffee with the mayor” session for the public to give input on village affairs.
“People bring up questions, and we answer them right off the cuff,” Scordino said.
The mayor said businesses in the village need approvals just like anywhere else and he doesn’t hear feedback that it’s burdensome.
Debbie Kolovich and Michael Tenety are challenging trustees Tony Davida and Robyn Silvestri.
Kolovich, 61, is an accounting consultant, and shares Hoffman’s desire to make village meetings more welcoming. They're both running on the Vote for Babylon Party line.
Kolovich also thinks the number of vacant storefronts in the village is too high and wants to see the village take on less debt.
“I want to get a grip on increasing our budget every year,” she said.
Davida, 66, a longtime Babylon firefighter and former chief who works for the state Parks Department, and Silvestri, 49, a former PTA president who used to work in marketing, disagree with Kolovich about the storefronts, saying the number of vacant spots is at a record low and the empty ones turn over quickly to new tenants.
“We make every effort we can to bring people to these storefronts,” said Davida, also in his fourth term. He, Silvestri and Scordino are members of the Better Babylon Party.
As for the debt, it’s a sign the village is in good shape, the mayor and trustees said, because it means the new AA bond rating is helping the village invest in things like road repair and new equipment like fire trucks.
Silvestri, who is running for election to her first full term after being appointed in July to complete former trustee Debbie Basile’s term, said the Chamber of Commerce does a good job of helping new businesses navigate village laws and that she and the other incumbents are there to ensure the village maintains a certain charm.
Tenety, 42, is a Suffolk County Police detective and head of security for Babylon Union Free School District, and said he is concerned with public safety, including at the Babylon train station.
“I’m all about the safety of the community,” he said.
He is running on the Babylon Strong Party line and is opposed to a recent move by the village to allow height increases in buildings on Railroad Avenue to encourage development.
He’s afraid the village may be overdeveloped, he said, and wants “to keep the quality of the village the way it is.”
The trustees noted the new law only allows buildings to increase to 40 feet, the same height on nearby Deer Park Avenue, a necessity if the village is going “to meet demand,” Silvestri said, for more transit-oriented rental housing, which Scordino said means “you’re improving the downtown district.”