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Spending key in Brightwaters election

In the Village of Brightwaters, four candidates from opposing local parties are vying for two open seats on the board of trustees.

The Citizens Party, which has governed the village for more than 30 years and currently controls four seats on the five-member board, has nominated incumbent Robert Fischer, 51, an electrical engineer, and challenger Tim Cox, 51, the dean of students at Bay Shore High School.

The Common Good Party, which formed in 2008 and holds one seat on the board, has picked incumbent John Valdini, 53, who owns a construction company, and challenger Patrick Fawcett, 45, who owns a retail pharmacy business. Each seat carries a term of two years.

How the village spends money and its plans for the future, as well as whether trustees should get health benefits, are the issues at the heart of Tuesday's election.

Members of the Citizens Party, which include Brightwaters Mayor Joseph McNulty, say they believe in the "pay as you go" system that has led to flat taxes for the last 12 years.

"The fact that we haven't raised taxes and we haven't cut services is a big issue," said Fischer, who has been on the board for five years. "I've come to the conclusion that our little village is as efficient as a government can be."

Fischer, who volunteered on the village planning board for 20 years before being elected to office, said he is running again because of his concern for the long-term health of the village and wants to continue to maintain the village as his party has done.

"Anybody can raise taxes. Working within our means is the hard part," he said.

Cox, whose father, Robert Cox, served as Brightwaters' mayor before McNulty, agrees. After serving as co-director of the village's summer day camp for 12 years, Cox said he decided to run to preserve the village's traditions and to "hold the line on taxes."

He is also concerned with updating the village's website. "It's important to really communicate with constituents and have them feel like they are part of what's going on," he said.

Members of the Common Good Party, such as Valdini, who has been on the board for two years, say the village needs to cut wasteful spending and create an infrastructure fund with dollars set aside for maintenance of roads and parks. The plan is opposed by the Citizens Party.

"If we have a set plan, we won't waste taxpayers' money," Valdini said.

He also wants to revamp the village's budget by reviewing all revenues and expenditures and would like to see more investment in downtown Brightwaters, he said.

Valdini added that he wants to bring more transparency to the board. "I think it's time to look at the budget and make it so that it's a document all the residents can read and understand," he said.

Fawcett, too, believes in a reserve fund and said part of the money could come from eliminating health benefits for board members. "I would want to put up a referendum on trustee health benefits," said Fawcett. "I don't think a volunteer position should get any type of benefit."

Members of the Citizens Party have said the health benefits, approved by the board in 1996, are a fair reward to board members for their volunteer work.

Fawcett added that he would be against raising taxes and would encourage local fundraisers and the use of volunteers to help maintain the village's needs.

Voting is Tuesday from noon to 9 p.m. at Village Hall, 40 Seneca Dr.

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