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Meet the Trustee Candiates

Find out why they think you should vote for them.

On Tuesday, 8 candidates are vying for 5 Southampton Town Trustee seats. Among the candidates are incumbets Eric Shultz (D), Bill Pell (D) and Ed Warner (R) who are vying to keep their seats. Also running are challengers are John Bouvier (D), Howard Pickerell (D), Bill Brauninger (D) Scott Horrowitz (R) and Ray Overton (D).

To help readers get to know the candidates, Patch recently asked them each a series of 5 questions the following is their responses in their own words. 

Why are you running for office?

Eric Shultz:  I am running for office because I still have a few things left to accomplish such as continuing to strengthen the authority of the Trustees which will enable the Board to defend the freeholders rights in the numerous lawsuits that we are forced to fight.

Bill Pell:  I am running for office because there are many things I would like to accomplish for the town such as insuring that the freeholders have the right to access the beaches.

John Bouvier: The Town of Southampton is a coastal community facing evolving environmental and economic changes. In the coming years, the Southampton Town Board of Trustees will be faced with complex environmental questions and issues requiring board members who have an understanding of science, engineering technologies and a vision to solve these issues. This requires the skills and knowledge to work across a broad political spectrum and a diverse community that depend upon a healthy environment for its economy. I want to work to balance the needs of our environment with the needs of our community. It is imperative that this be recognized as a regional problem that requires Trustees to be visible and strong advocates to both educate and inform the public in concert with solving water quality, beach access and erosion issues and a myriad of impacts as the result of population density, climate change and sea level rise.

Howard Pickerell: Hoping that my 60 years of experience on the water will benefit our marine environment 

Bill Brauninger: No response as of press time.

Ed Warner: I am running for office because I am a commercial fisherman and my family has a long history of working the bays. I am stepping up to continue my family's legacy to protect the bays and waterways and use my historical and institutional knowledge to make it a better place.

Scott Horowitz: I am running for office because I care very much about my community and I feel we are at a point in time when our environment is in a severely declining trend.  We need all able hands on deck right now. I am adequately qualified to help deal with these issues and I intend to.  I will use my energy and expertise to help advocate for the solutions we need to repair and protect our marine environment.

Ray Overton: I have long had an interest in the surface waters of Southampton Town, but have also been concerned about the adversarial relationship that seemed to exist between the Trustees and various other governmental agencies. Those agencies include the Town Board, various departments of Town government including parks and recreation and highway, as well as the incorporated villages. I have always felt that these groups needed to work together to produce solutions with the greatest value to the taxpayers and freeholders of the Town. Without this coordination and cooperation, we will continue to react to issues instead of actually plan and be prepared for them.  I believe that my business experience, my past experience with water resource management and my ability to build consensus, the time was right to run for Trustee to help accomplish this.

Why should taxpayers vote for you?

Eric Shultz: I am asking the voters to support me because of my tireless commitment to preserving this Towns resources.  I have amassed a tremendous amount of experience through the years and the institutional knowledge that I have helps me make the right decisions.

Bill Pell:  believe taxpayers should vote for me because of my commitment to preserve the right of the freeholders of the town. My experience of many years of being on the water allows me to make the right decisions.

John Bouvier: My background is ideally suited to be a member of the Board of Trustees. As an Engineer, past submariner, and commercial diver having worked underwater around the world, I have seen both the good and the bad results of human activity both under the water and along our coasts. As a past General Manager of a high tech aerospace firm specializing in both submersible and space operations, I have a practical nature and am solutions oriented. I think this Board, in particular, will be faced with implementing complex solutions during a unique time in our geological history. They will be required to make difficult decisions in face of rapid environmental changes. I understand these changes and have a vision for how we can work together to prepare for them. I think it is important to know what you don’t know and find the answers rather than relying on inflexible planning and anecdotal information. It is important to be responsive to needs and concerns and act with the best information you have at the time but also be able to adapt to changing priorities in a timely manner.

Howard Pickerell: I know the water and what is happening to it.

Bill Brauninger: No response as of press time.

Ed Warner: I am very good with money. I manage my commercial fishing business and I am able to survive in that industry. I will put that skill into the trustees and make sure that our assets are managed properly and do the best with the funds that are available to us.

Scott Horowitz: The taxpayers should vote for me because I am a highly experienced candidate with a proven track record of getting positive results in the best interest of the people of Southampton.  I have supported and helped preserve the maritime heritage of our town by founding the Hamptons offshore Invitational fishing tournament to benefit Big Brothers big Sisters of Long Island. This event supports many business in Hampton bays and throughout the town, It brings people into town to help celebrate our tradition and as a result over $1million  went to a 100+ year old charity to help mentor children in our community. The foundation of our country.  In addition, I have protected our wetlands and water quality  as an appointed member of the Southampton town Conservation board. Working on many projects and assuring protection for our marine environment. I am ready to assume the role of trustee with this level of experience. I also have a Bachelors degree from Southampton College in Environmental Studies and am a licensed USCG Captain documenting thousands of hours at sea. That's just part of my resume. The taxpayer gets a hard working qualified, experienced and dedicated Trustee if they elect me.

Ray Overton: The voters (both taxpayers and other residents) should support me because I am a candidate who sees the big picture in attempting to find solutions to our surface water issues. I recognize that amending septic regulations impacts not only the multi-million dollar properties on the beach, but also hundreds of smaller, more modest properties along our bays, creeks and ponds. I understand that our relatively reasonable tax rate (in compared to other areas on Long Island) allows many of our seniors to remain in their homes and allows many younger people to even consider remaining here. I understand that there are many, many factors that contribute to the changes we have experienced in our bays ecology. Some are obvious and can be dealt with through some behavioral changes by our residents, some are less obvious and may require some understanding about what role Mother Nature plays in an evolving ecological system. I also am committed to increasing our understanding of our specifi environment with our young people through increased contact with our area schools. All of this will allow us to leverage our tax dollars spent (whether through village, town or school taxes) to achieve our goals of improving our surface water environment.

What do you see as the three top issues facing the town trustees and how will you solve them?

Eric Shultz: The top 3 issues facing the Trustees are:

A.  restoration of the bays,  the waters of this town are subjected to many forms of pollutants coming from groundwater, surface runoff and from the sky in the form of acid rain and carbon dioxide levels which changes the ph of the water.  The two things the Trustees can do is to increase the amount of shellfish to filter the water and work with the Town Board to reduce the pollutants from upland sources.

B.  Shore hardening structures,   The use of seawalls, rocks and other giant sandbag devices in front of homes threaten the overall stability and width of the beach.  The beaches have been moving northward since the last glacier and the easement that the trustees hold stretches from the high water mark to the crest of the dune.  When you stop this northward migration of the beach through the use of a wall the beach will narrow and the rights of the people will diminish

C.  challenges to the authority of the Trustees,  A strong Board of Trustees that is directly answerable to the voting public ensures that the will of the towns people is heard.  A few are attempting to deprive the many of their rights and are constantly attempting to either dismantle or weaken the Board in order to get what THEY want.

Bill Pell: The three top issues are: 1. Restoring the bay - the water is subject to many kinds of pollution in different ways such as runoff, ground water, carbon monoxide levels that change the ph of the water by increasing  the amount of shellfish (oysters and clams) which filters the water. 2. Hardening structures on the beach in the form of rocks, sea walls and eliminating sand bags which are put in front of homes that threaten stability and the width of the beach. The beach has been migrating to the North for years. As the beach gets narrower the freeholders lose access to the beach. 3. Strengthening the trustee's authority by getting the word out to the freeholders.

John Bouvier: Clearly the overriding concern we have as a community is water quality. I think it is important to separate the things we can do locally to mitigate some of these issues in comparison to the broader regional responsibilities and concerns. In some ways, the Trustees inherit the result of decisions made by other governing bodies including our Town Council. I think this is particularly relevant in reducing the high nitrogen loading as a result of septic systems and run off containing harmful nitrates, pesticides and fungicides that are particularly stressful to our marine eco system. While regional governing bodies wrestle with this issue, I believe that Southampton Town can and should take the lead in establishing certain standards for the control of waste water. Each year every household, on average, contributes approximately 30,000 gallons of waste water to our aquifer of which approximately 4,000 gallons are effluent. Because our aquifer is shared across Long Island, it is considered a regional issue but there are many things we can do locally to begin to stem this flow.

One of my great concerns is how our community deals with changing climate and sea level rise. This is especially a concern with regard to our beaches and beach erosion. It is also a matter of beach access and aesthetics. Hardened structures are a threat to both and most coastal geologists agree that indiscriminant use of such structures ultimately lead to greater erosion. I also think that, while state and federal authorities bear an overriding mandate for corrective measures this should be done in concert with our local communities. In some cases this involves strengthening local building codes and the assumption of risk by beach front homeowner’s, similar to other communities that have adopted open beaches act type legislation such as the Texas Open Beaches Act.

I am a strong proponent of aquaculture programs and managed fisheries that not only support our maritime industries but also serve as part of the process of our bay water remediation. Our fisheries industry is a part of our economy and is underrepresented. Decisions made must include all vested parties to find a balanced and equitable approach to the preservation and remediation of our environment and natural resources. The Southampton Town Board of Trustees carries a great responsibility for over half of this coastal community and should be able to operate and establish their own budget line, something the Southampton Town Supervisor has stated that she agrees with. The Board of Trustees are an integral part of a balanced government and represent the rights of the environment and as such the establishment of a healthy economy and thriving future.

Howard Pickerell: Water access,Clean water,Replenishing shellfish stocks

Bill Brauninger: No response as of press time.

Ed Warner: The first issue is the issue of water quality and problem with septic. I would like to work with the town board and others in Suffolk County that provide permits to have systems upgraded to state of the art. Another issue is to maintain access to our beaches and make sure everyone that lives in town has good access to the water and the bays. Understanding what the trustees do  is also important — we oversee the economic engine of the town and we maintain them and we must have a good working relationship with the town board.  I would love to work on that.

Scott Horowitz: There are many issues that need to be solved. I will address a few. Surface and groundwater quality in our bays and ponds, Depleted shellfish stocks and the loss of critical marine habitat, including eelgrass beds, and the necessity to implement solutions to preserve our beaches, for the protection of private and public property as well as the guarantee of the health of the economic engine to our town. The importance of public access to our beaches. I will utilize all my assets to assure these issues are addressed and the taxpayers interests are protected. I will be working with all branches of government, private entities and the public in a coordinated effort to bring these solutions to fruition.

Ray Overton: There are many specific issues that face the trustees including public access, water quality, shellfish populations, algae blooms, etc. For me, however, I feel the top three issues facing the trustees are 1) communication, 2) cooperation and 3) education. The trustees right now have the least readily available information source in the Town. Minutes are not posted to either the Town or Trustee websites (the last minutes posted are for 2007 and the last update to the Trustee website is 2011) nor is financial information readily available. This can be updated quickly, especially if assistance from the Town Clerk is sought. Accurate communications with the public are key to the Town addressing the issues facing our surface waters. The trustees must actively seek cooperative solutions to various issues and work with the town and village agencies who will actually complete much of the work needed to decrease the effect of upland activities on our waters. I believe that many of the department heads and other officials look forward to this type of cooperative, solution driven effort and would welcome someone on the Board of Trustees who whole heartedly embraces this attitude  And finally, we need to educate the public about the impact we have on our waters and how we can work to improve systems. I believe that by providing our residents with accurate information, they will make the appropriate decisions to improve our results. We also need to commit to educating our young people from the minute they enter school about our greatest asset, our waters.

If the town had the money, what major project would you like to see the town trustees undertake?

Eric Shultz: If the Town has the money it should be used to help people install new septic systems in order to reduce the pollution that enters the bays through ground water.

Bill Pell: To help people update their septic system to ensure our bays are not contaminated.

John Bouvier: I would like to invest in better methodologies and technologies to monitor the health and condition of our bays, beaches and waterways to guide and contribute to decision making and establishing a baseline for the future. Some of our environments are extremely sensitive to changing conditions and changing chemistry. We are faced with increasing pressures from septic systems, runoff and other contributory pollutants. It is important to be able to visualize our region in context to population density, water shed areas and related dynamics. Having this data is essential to our future ability to protect and preserve all of our natural resources and can be collected in real time and made available for all residents to see on line and participate in monitoring. Greater involvement of residents leads to greater knowledge, participation in remediation and subsequently to greater protection of our environment by our citizens.

I would also like to invest in growing our aquaculture programs as the basis to educate and promote the growth of responsible fisheries practices, encourage and grow our maritime economies and preserve our longstanding agricultural communities. In many ways the Trustees inherit the results of decisions made without their direct involvement and input. Regional issues require local involvement.

Howard Pickerell: Put a 200 foot buffer zone on the use of toxic lawn chemicals on our water fronts.

Bill Brauninger: No response as of press time.

Ed Warner: I would say just being commercial fisherman for over 40 years, and seeing the bays regularly dredged by county, I'd like to see that program reinstated. I'd like to work to keep the flushing the headwaters of the creeks and canals town-wide.

Scott Horowitz: If the town had money? Science has been telling us that the degradation of our bays is coming from the upland. We need to deal with storm and road runoff and should be implementing strategies to alleviate this type of pollution. In addition, many people are aware that their old cesspools are a major part of the problem. Evidence of this the popularity of the Towns fund incentivizing upgrades to the septic that would help alleviate the nitrogen that is polluting our ground and surface waters causing damaging algal blooms. A major program that helps the homeowners with meaningful incentives will pay huge dividends to us all. We also need new technologies and help from the Suffolk County board of Health. People want to be good stewards, they just cant afford it in many cases. A meaningful plan can help us all. I also think smart preservation and zoning is important so as not to further complicate this issue. This is a difficult balancing act but must be considered. I would also like to expand on the education of our pump out program. We also need to dredge, siltation is bad for the marine environment and commerce. Its hard to be a maritime destination if navigation is difficult.

Ray Overton: If money were not an object at all, I would love to see the town and villages engage in a coordinated septic treatment program. Unfortunately, the debacle that is the Southwest Sewer District in western Suffolk has created a poor public image for sewer treatment. The result is a disjointed septic treatment program that is both inordinately expensive and marginally effective. Such a coordinated system would be a hard sell, but if the funds were readily available, creating support for such a program would become fundamentally easier. The difficult part is that septic treatment is the cornerstone for any large scale surface water remediation project.

Where do you see the town's waterways in 5 years?

Eric Shultz: If everyone works together and really focuses on the pollution issues I am confident that we can see a turnaround in our waters quality.  Nature has a tremendous ability to heal but only if we begin to give the bays a break by reducing the insults that we throw at them.

Bill Pell: If we all work together and the freeholders concern themselves with the environment I see the waterways improving in their quality.

John Bouvier: I am encouraged by what I perceive as a shift in priorities. Our local cultures, economy and environment are directly dependent upon each other. Our residents, I believe, are speaking loudly and firmly that water quality issues are one of their major concerns and are demanding action. Political will comes from the will of our residents. I am optimistic that we will react with responsible and well implemented solutions and while I do not believe that we should politicize our environment, these solutions require an engaged, knowledgeable and action oriented government. Together, we can and will begin to turn away from practices that endanger the health and our ability to protect our essential waterways. I am optimistic that in 5 years hence, we will find ourselves encouraged by our progress to have done just that.

Howard Pickerell: Working on the water every day year round, I see a slow but constant decline in marine life populations.

Bill Brauninger: No response as of press time. 

Ed Warner: I can’t imagine them to be any better than they are now. We are working with Stony Brook college and the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program, nut until we get to the root of the problem and resolve the nitrogen-loading of our water, it is a loosing battle. 

Scott Horowitz: If we don't get a handle on the issues facing the degradation of our waterways, fresh and salt, I feel they will continue to decline. We will continue to lose critical marine habitat. We need to formulate a strategy to remedy this. The environment can be very resilient but we need to act.  If elected, I will work hard to achieve results that matter to us all. I believe I am well qualified to earn a seat on that board and make a meaningful contribution. My first job with the town was as a part time bay constable working for the town trustees. It was an honor to receive the nominations and endorsements to run by the republicans, Conservatives and the independence parties. It will be a privilege to serve if elected.

Ray Overton: I firmly believe the town's waterways will go through gradual improvement over the next five years provided appropriate leadership is available. By its nature, water and the lands surrounding it have a tremendous ability to adapt and improve. 40 years ago, the Hudson and East Rivers in New York City were considered dead. Today, fish like striped bass, etc have returned. It proves that our efforts can be successful. I hope the voters of the Town of Southampton support me in my candidacy as I truly want to be a part of this resurrection of our waters.

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