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Oct 29, 2009 5:37 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Board candidate Bridget Fleming (D)

Editor's Note: Republican Town Councilman Christopher Nuzzi and Democratic Councilwoman Sally Pope, who were elected to office in 2005 and 2008, respectively, are running for reelection this year—but they are faced with two challengers. Political newcomers James Wilson Malone, a Republican, and Bridget Fleming, a Democrat, are jockeying for seats on the council, too. In 2010, a council member will earn a $60,000 salary. All four candidates answered several questions via e-mail from The Southampton Press.

Click here to download a pdf of the Southampton Town Ballot
Oct 29, 2009 5:37 PM

Age: 49

Hometown: Noyac

Education: BA, Hunter College; juris doctor, University of Virginia School of Law

Occupation: lawyer, mediator

Party affiliation: Democrat

Political experience: assistant district attorney 1991-2000. No prior elected position

Do you support the proposal that the town begin charging nightclubs and taverns that are deemed “trouble spots” for the extra police coverage they require to maintain law and order? Why?

Yes. The costs associated with police coverage of troublesome nightclubs must be defrayed, and that cost should be borne by the entities that create the need. In addition, a “user fee” based on need for extraordinary police hours will provide a needed incentive for the clubs themselves to curb nuisance and criminal activity.

Do you think the town should pursue privatizing the recycling centers? Why?

No. The proposal is an example of management by crisis that has caused town leaders to lose sight of sound, community-based priorities. We have an obligation to maintain control of the entire waste management system in order to control environmental impacts and traffic flow, and maintain acceptable service levels. There is no compelling evidence that privatization would save the town any money, and the community has voiced loud and clear opposition that must be respected.

Do you think the town should pursue privatizing the town animal shelter or contracting with a company to operate it? Why?

Recent discussions have revealed that it will be possible to partner with private philanthropy to maintain top-notch services and avoid the unacceptable outcome of euthanizing animals simply because they can’t be placed. Aggressive efforts at negotiation must be pursued to reach a solution.

Do you think the PILOT program can be fixed in a way that benefits the town and the districts in need of relief? How?

The primary purpose of the CPF program is to preserve land, and we must not lose sight of that, nor should we enact further legislation that dilutes this important purpose. At the same time, taxing districts should not be made to pay for the political mistakes of the Town Board. We need to work with the State Comptroller to arrive at accurate assessments for the parcels whose values were grossly inflated in the past, and institute systems and controls so that inflated values are not permitted in the future.

Do you support the idea of waiving the tax cap for one year in order to eliminate the deficits and debt uncovered in the general, capital, police and waste management funds this year? Why?

It would be a mistake to talk about specific solutions before we have actual, accurate budget figures. We still don’t have the restatement of the 2007 surplus that was called for some time ago, nor do we have results of the various audits that are underway, to determine what actual deficits we face. We do need to make it a priority to protect taxpayers from having to foot the bill for the gross mismanagement of the town’s budget over the last several years, by aggressively pursuing alternative revenue streams, and cost savings.

The proposed 2010 budget calls for 44 layoffs. Do you think the town’s workforce and should be pared down in the coming years? Why and how?

From 2001 to 2008, town spending almost doubled, from $46.5 million to $82.5 million. Much of this explosive growth in spending was due to the addition of staff positions and select salary increases. We have to take a hard look at the positions that were added, and make whatever adjustments possible to reduce overlapping services and increase the efficient delivery of services to the taxpayers.

What is the greatest challenge facing Southampton Town in the next four years?

Because of the depth of the budget deficits, there are no easy answers to the financial problems facing the town. The ongoing audits are beginning to reveal that the situation is even more dire than we had been led to believe. We need to create a structurally sound budget that delivers services according to consciously-set priorities that consider the long-term good of our communities. It is essential that the voters choose leaders who will not fall prey to political opportunism, providing short-term solutions that sound good, but don’t accomplish overall goals. It can be done, but it’s going to take skill, hard work, and determination.

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Always nice to have someone pass the buck on the tough questions like cpf no direct answer, tax increase over the cap, no direct answer, layoffs no direct answer. when are we going to wake up to political double speak, I fear the future, same old same old. And by the way Dems and Repubs should be judged the same. I personally am sick of it, She wants my vote, but what am I voting for. Nice try, but I'm not sold, I don't know what I'm buying.
By tom (53), Hampton Bays on Oct 29, 09 6:25 PM
If anyone needs a simple one-line pat answer to a question, just ask tom.

Personally, I'd prefer a more thoughtful approach.
By Noah Way (450), Southampton on Oct 29, 09 9:28 PM
Can you believe Kay Kidde a Republican supports this woman? Kay ... get a clue ... she is so green and unknowing of how this town works
By JimmyKBond (156), Hampton Bays on Oct 29, 09 10:07 PM
Who is Kay Kidde, and what does she have to do with this race -- or any other?
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Oct 30, 09 12:23 PM
You mean she's not on the take?
By Noah Way (450), Southampton on Oct 30, 09 8:33 AM
Bridget Fleming offers more than most candidates for local office, but the especially useful bit of her background will be her experience heading the fraud bureau in the Manhattan DA's office. Not that there's any reason to suspect fraud in Southampton -- it seems to be the only negative that's not presented by the Town's financial mess -- but the skills one develops in looking for fraud are just the skills we need to identify the many, many mistakes made by those who have run our Town for years. ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Oct 30, 09 10:34 AM
1 member liked this comment
There is a long history of fraud in Southampton. It just hasn't been exposed, although Vinnie came pretty close when his belated bribery charges backfired.
By Noah Way (450), Southampton on Oct 30, 09 2:20 PM
The mistakes have already been discovered. its solution time now. what solutions has she offerred? what cuts would she make, ot if shes like her running mate ATH she will re-instate town cars for department heads, not lay anyone off or make cuts in department budgets. I have heard all those statements from ATH at debates, she has countered every cut LK has made!

Lets hear solutions from the dems rather than their question asking!
By ridiculous (214), hampton bays on Oct 30, 09 12:08 PM
Boy did you pick an appropriate screen name!
By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on Oct 30, 09 12:30 PM
Bridget is the most qualified canidate running this year. Good bye to Sally.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Oct 30, 09 1:54 PM
Respectfully, can someone tell me how it is that Ms. Fleming is more "qualified" to represent the people of Southampton Town if she has only been living here for the last eight years? A lot of us voters have children who have been living in this town longer.
By SamIAm (36), hampton bays on Oct 30, 09 4:37 PM
Education: BA, Hunter College; juris doctor, University of Virginia School of Law
Occupation: lawyer, mediator
Political experience: assistant district attorney 1991-2000.

By Noah Way (450), Southampton on Oct 31, 09 12:14 PM
1 member liked this comment
Most of the people who now live in our town have come from other places from one time or another. Many are very intelligent, motivated, and dedicated to the community. To imply that because they were not born here, they should not hold office would be a waste of some of the most qualified people in the town. Like so many, Bridget and her husband have chosen Southampton town as their home. She is and attorney and he is a contractor and are raising a family here. For this, and so many ...more
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Oct 31, 09 9:48 PM