Fiscal responsibility and community improvements are the top issues among three candidates running for two seats on the Bellport Village Board in the June 19 election.
Challenger Dan Polner, 54, of Bellport, unsuccessfully ran for a Brookhaven Town Council seat in November and is now seeking a village board seat. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with degrees in accounting and systems engineering, and earned a master’s degree in business from the University of Chicago.
Polner works at Stony Brook University as an incubator advocate, helping startup technology companies develop business plans. He has two daughters.
“I’m very focused on financial accountability, keeping taxes from going up, and keeping services from declining,” Polner said. “We are going to come to a point in the very near future where you could price everyone out of enjoying their quality of life.”
Incumbent Steven Mackin, 42, is a 37-year village resident and former captain with the Bellport Fire Department. He works for a company that sells sirens and voice alert systems to law enforcement. He graduated from the New York Institute of Technology in 1998 with an electronics degree.
Mackin, elected two years ago, said he would fight to keep taxes low. But he voted in March to raise taxes 7.7 percent, and the average homeowner’s tax bill went up $144 annually.
“I didn’t have the intimate knowledge of how things go,” Mackin said of his voting for the spending increase. “We were behind on equipment and a lot of our vehicles were 25 or 30 years old. “We didn’t have much of a choice. . . . But knowing what I know now, there was no way to sustain without raising taxes slightly.”
He touts his helping to implement a new security system that provides camera surveillance at village facilities and meeting with Suffolk County officials to curtail speeders, and to possibly install new traffic lights.
Joseph Gagliano, 72, a 46-year village resident, retired as a high school principal in the Eastport school district in 2002. He graduated from Long Island University in 1968 with a degree in clinical psychology and received a New York State public education certificate from Hofstra University in 1970.
Gagliano was picked by Mayor Ray Fell to run for trustee in 2016.
Two years ago, Gagliano said he would create a zombie home registry that would fine absentee homeowners, but because the village has fewer than 5,000 residents, it didn’t qualify for a state program providing funding to help track the absentee homeowners.
Gagliano said the village is keeping track of residents who aren’t paying their tax bills, calling the effort “a work in progress.”
He said he’s helped the village win about $2 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency funds for a bulkheading project and was part of initiatives that reduced debt service, improve roads and redesigned the village website.
“I’m very proud to serve the residents of the village,” Gagliano said. “I have the best interests of the village at heart, including safety and communication.”