3-Way Race for 2 Seats on Sag Harbor Village Board

Police contract, accessory apartments and environmental health on the minds of candidates.

While there is on Tuesday and Southampton Village's election was , there is a race in nearby Sag Harbor Village.

Residents can vote for two of three candidates, Kevin Duchemin and incumbents Bruce Stafford and Dr. Robby Stein. The election takes place on Tuesday at the on Brick Kiln Road between noon and 9 p.m.

The pool of candidates have some similarities and some differences, but they are each running with different small village parties.

Stein is a clinical child psychologist who spent summers on the East End, has a practice in Manhattan, and moved to Sag Harbor several years ago, while Stafford and Duchemin are both lifelong village residents.

Stein first ran four years ago and though he wasn't elected, he joined the board a few months later as an appointed member to fill a vacancy left by Brian Gilbride, who had just been elected mayor. He also serves on the board at .

Duchemin, an sergeant and 20-year member of the Sag Harbor Fire Department, said he has always wanted to run for village board and with his youngest child now a teenager, the timing was right. He is running on his own Sag Harbor People's Unity Party line.

The president of the East Hampton Village police union, Duchemin has been active in at least four contract negotiations. He is also the first vice president of the Suffolk County Police Conference.

Stafford, who is finishing up his first term, used to work part-time as a police officer and owns a landscaping company. He is 34-year member of the Otter Hose company and also serves on the board of the .

Duchemin and Stafford both serve on the fire department's benevolence board, of which Stafford is president.

New Candidate Wants To See More Accessory Apartments

One of Duchemin's biggest motivations for running is to try and give new momentum to an effort made several years ago to legalize accessory apartments within the village footprint. "More and more kids are moving away. Everyone should have a shot to raise a family here," he said. "I'd hate to see my kids pushed out."

When the village board attempted to change the village code, Duchemin was one of three during the amnesty period, he said, to file an application with the planning board to legalize an apartment above his garage, which he said he built to code. The process proved arduous and the village ultimately let the initiative go. "It's fallen below the radar, so to speak, and I think it needs to be put on the front burner," he said.

Incumbent Grapples With Police Contract

Stafford said there was a bit of a learning curve when he was first elected. "At first, I had to get used to the fact that government sometimes goes five steps back and two steps forward," he said, adding that he has taken a hands-on approach, with Stein, and visits Village Hall or meets with department heads at least once a day.

Among his accomplishments, he listed adding solar panels on the Columbia Street firehouse, improving the (new bathrooms, honoring soldiers in the hallway), and getting a bigger boat for the fire department at a savings — instead of purchasing a new boat that could have cost $300,000, the board bought one the was unloading for $42,000.

One of the biggest challenges, he said, has been the contract negotiations with the Police Benevolence Association. The two sides have recently reached an impasse and are headed to arbitration. "I don't feel the police or teachers should get automatic anything. Do I think they deserve it? Yes. Do I think the economic times will sustain it? No. We don't have a Further Lane," he said.

Incumbent Says Village Health at Crucial Point

Stein, who is running on the Windmill Party, said that he has more work to do on the board, where he has taken the lead in environmental and health-related. He has been the liaison to the wastewater treatment plant. He would like to be around for a revision of the village's wetlands code. Meanwhile, the village needs to continue to focus on stormwater management and the regulation of septic systems during the clean-up.

"It's an important time for the village," he said, particularly as the Bulova Watchcase Factory turns from a dilapidated old building to condos.

"I've learned a lot. I'm a learner," he said, adding that he has enjoyed being a public servant, looking at what part of the infrastructure works and what doesn't.

Stein said that the village needs to take another look at the residential part of the code.


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