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Poquott village election focuses on finances, new dock

Poquott Village Hall seen on May 25.

Poquott Village Hall seen on May 25. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Poquott Mayor Dee Parrish faces an election challenge from trustee John Richardson, who says he has been unfairly targeted for code violations because he has criticized Parrish.

Parrish and Richardson are among six candidates seeking three seats on the village board in the June 19 election, including two open trustee seats.

Trustees William Poupis and Christopher Schleider are being challenged by Felicia Chillak, a real estate agent and civic activist, and Dianna Padilla, a Stony Brook University ecology professor.

Parrish, Poupis and Schleider are running on the Poquott’s Future ticket. Richardson, Chillak and Padilla are running as the We The People Party.

The incumbents and their challengers have different views of the village’s finances and disagree about how village officials have handled a controversy over a proposed dock.

Richardson, Chillak and Padilla also complain about what they call “selective enforcement” of village building codes.

Richardson, 43, a New York City firefighter who was elected to the village board last year, said he has been cited for several code violations. He said his attempts to bring his house into compliance have been stymied because of his opposition of Parrish.

“It could have been taken care of,” he said of his building code violation case. “They could have taken $200 for a permit. They chose to make it into a lawsuit.”

Parrish denied targeting Richardson, who she said owes the village more than $17,000 in building and legal fees.

“We did try multiple times to work with him ... but it never came to fruition,” Parrish said.

Richardson and his running mates say Parrish has used the village reserve funds to avoid raising taxes, leaving the village with little money in case of a natural disaster.

Parrish, 50, a two-term incumbent, said the allegation is not true and that she has increased village reserve funds to almost $67,600.

Parrish, an accountant in her family’s environmental consulting business, defended her administration’s handling of a proposal to build a dock. She said the project’s cost, originally estimated at $150,000, ballooned to $250,000 because of federal and state building requirements.

The plan is on hold while village officials review the dock’s potential impact on taxes and property values, she said.

“If we find it’s really not the best thing for the residents, then we’re just not going to do that,” Parrish said.

Richardson and his running mates said village officials have ignored comments about the dock made by residents at public meetings and have refused to hold a public referendum on the issue.

“I think we need a government that listens to the citizens, rather than intimidates them,” Padilla, 63, said. “I think we need a government that is respectful of all the citizens of the village.”

Chillak, 60, said she would solicit public input on issues by using email.

“Our plan is to have a public hearing, email the actual law to the residents,” she said. “We’ll vote based on what the residents want, not what the board wants.”

Poupis, 60, who was appointed last year to fill a vacancy on the board, said he favors the dock and doesn’t believe village officials have mishandled the issue.

“I don’t think it’s been a rush because the whole process of putting in the dock has been happening for years, long before I was on the board,” said Poupis, vice president of operations for an environmental drilling company.

Schleider, 46, a teacher who was appointed a trustee last year, said the dock “would be great for the village as long as the cost is responsible.”

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