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Westhampton Beach mayoral candidates face off

Conrad Teller, seeking his fifth two-year term as mayor of Westhampton Beach, paints himself as a prudent manager of the village's finances and infrastructure.

His challenger, attorney Maria Moore, is pitching a proactive approach to helping businesses on Main Street and addressing water quality problems in nearby bays.

In the contest -- to be decided June 20 at village hall -- Moore, 54, is making her first bid for elected office, alongside incumbent trustee Charles Palmer Jr. on the Progress for Westhampton Beach Party line. She is vying to become the first female mayor of the resort community in western Southampton Town.

"I want to create a culture where people know that we're here to work cooperatively, to solve problems together, to have kind of a welcoming environment," said Moore, who moved to the village in 1998 and serves as treasurer for the Westhampton Free Library.

Teller, 84, a former police chief for both the village and Southampton Town, is running again on the Village Unity Party line. "I've got the integrity, I've got the experience," said Teller, who was born in the village and took office in 2006. "I'm healthy, and I feel like I'm still able to contribute to the village."

The village has 1,700 year-round residents and a significant part-time summer population.

Moore said she would push the village's small police department to achieve state accreditation, which would bring it in line with nearby departments and amount to a formal recognition that the department meets state standards.

Teller said an application for accreditation is underway, but it is not a pressing concern in a department staffed by 12 officers.

The candidates also differ on their approach to filling storefronts on Main Street. Moore said she wants to survey commercial property owners to find out what is keeping tenants from renting. She also said she wants to meet with merchants about streamlining various application procedures at village hall.

"There's a lot of red tape and procedures and delays, and it gets in the way of their success," she said.

Teller said the application processes are appropriate. He said the village's role on Main Street is to "provide good streets, street lighting, garbage pickup and all of that. We don't build stores, and we don't set the rent."

Moore also said she would explore grant funding for building sewers and improving stormwater infrastructure in order to reduce pollution in the bays. Teller said a comprehensive solution for water pollution must come from a higher level of government.

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