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3-way race for 2 Greenport trustee seats

The three candidates for seats on the Greenport

The three candidates for seats on the Greenport Town Board are pictured from left, Bill Swiskey, Mary Bess Phillips and Julia Robins. Credit: Randee Daddona, Handout, Handout

Bill Swiskey is making Greenport politics lively again.

One of three candidates for two open seats on the village board, Swiskey -- gadfly to some, whistle-blower to others -- is charging that the village has been neglecting its roads, that one of the other candidates improperly filed nominating petitions, and that the first thing he would do if elected is propose a resolution cutting the pay of village trustees by 25 percent. Then, he said, he would look at eliminating village trustee health benefits.

The village clerk, who runs the election, ruled Swiskey's complaint about nominating petitions was not filed on time, and dismissed it without reaching a conclusion on his allegations.

The other two candidates, incumbent Mary Bess Phillips and village planning board member Julia Robins, say the village generally is in good shape and getting better, and that they want to keep it going in the right direction.

Trustee Chris Kempner decided not to run for re-election.

Swiskey, 65, has been a controversial figure in Greenport for years, both as a former village board member and now as a private citizen who regularly attends village board meetings. A stickler for details, he has argued over how repairs are being made to the village's electric system and how much debt the village has assumed. Once, when on the village board, he introduced a resolution to outlaw the use of Roberts Rules of Order, saying Mayor David Nyce was using it to stifle public comment. The move failed, but did lead Nyce to say that perhaps he had gone too far in limiting public debate.

Nothing Phillips or Robins have said so far in the campaign would lead to a major change in direction in village operations. There are no traditional political parties in Greenport, and each candidate runs on his or her own line.

Robins says it is important to carry out the village's waterfront revitalization plan and that she always would be accessible to village residents. "We've seen a wonderful transformation from an economically depressed area to a desirable tourist attraction," she said of Greenport. "It's got a wonderful community sense to it. We have a maritime history. You can walk around and see neighbors."

A real estate agent making her first run for public office, Robins declined to give her age.

Phillips, 58, is finishing her first four-year term as a trustee. She says Greenport's decision to refinance and stretch out its bond payments over an additional 10 years means that nearly $200,000 that would have been used for interest now can be used for other purposes. The refinancing lowered the interest rates from 4.5 percent to 1.81 percent.

She also said she expects the village's draft waterfront revitalization plan -- likely to go to public hearings later this year -- will become a blueprint for expanding Greenport's marinas and boat construction and renovation businesses. The plan, which deals with runoff and pollution, has been broadened to include Moore's Woods and Silver Lake.

Village residents can see all three candidates Monday night at the village's only debate. It will begin at 7 p.m. in the Greenport United Methodist Church, 621 Main St.

Voting is March 19 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Third Street Fire House.

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