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Trustee race in Poquott focuses on quality of life, communications with residents

Trustee candidates in Poquott say the tiny North Shore village has big problems.

Former trustee Harold Berry and two other residents, Gary Garofano and Jeff Koppelson, are running for two seats on the five-person board, each carrying a two-year term. Those seats are being vacated by Joseph Colombo and Sharon Abernathy, who were appointed last year to fill trustee seats left vacant by resignations.

In another race, incumbent trustee Sandra Nicoletti faces a challenge from zoning board of appeals chairwoman Karen Sartain to complete the final year of an unexpired term for a seat held by former trustee Edward Schmidt. Nicoletti was appointed last year to replace Schmidt when he resigned amid questions about his dual role as an elected official and president of the Poquott Civic Association.

In interviews, Berry, Koppelson and Sartain cited issues such as speeding traffic, conflict among community members and fallout from Schmidt's resignation. Nicoletti and Garofano could not be reached for comment.

Poquott, in Brookhaven Town, has a population of fewer than 1,000 people and no businesses. The village has many summer residents who live in bungalows and beach homes.

Berry, 67, a supervisor for a Ronkonkoma company that sells and manufactures fasteners, said he wants to heal divisions between older and newer residents. He said those rifts were exacerbated when Schmidt resigned four months after taking office.

"Before you get the people together, you have to get the board together. The board is not together," Berry, a village commissioner in charge of roads, lighting, signs and drains, said.

Koppelson, 67, a retired director of a psychiatric treatment program, also cited the need to address what he called anger among village residents.

"A lot of it has to do with communication. In any organization, that's usually the problem," Koppelson, a village commissioner who oversees beaches, said. "We have some issues that I think most people are in agreement about, but it gets stirred up because of the way people feel that they're talked to."

Sartain, 46, an attorney, said she is concerned about discrepancies in building code compliance in different parts of the village. She also expressed concern about speeding cars.

"I would love to put a gigantic speed bump on Washington [Street] if I could," she said.

Voting is from noon to 9 p.m. on June 16, at Village Hall, 45 Birchwood Ave.

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