With Election Day less than two months away, Patch is providing lots of information on candidates at every level—local, state and national.
We recently touched base with the five candidates running for a seat (either District 6—which covers the northern and eastern sections of the Town of Southeast, as well as a portion of the western area—or District 7—which covers the Village of Brewster, the remainder of Southeast, and an eastern bit of the Town of Carmel and the Hamlet of Mahopac) on the Putnam County Legislature. We asked each the same set of questions.
Legislators serve for three years and are limited to four terms. The annual salary is $35,136.
Here are responses from Norman Marino, 70, who is running for the District 7 seat. The Mahopac resident, who served as a detective and investigator with the New York City Police Department, is running for the Republican line in Thursday's Primary. He sat on the Carmel Town Board for several years.
P: Why are you running (which major issues are you looking to tackle?)?
NM: To do the things I did for the Town of Carmel while I was a councilman; to stop the rising cost of government and get what needs to get done at a much lower cost. I have already shown that it can be done because I have done it. I have lived in the area for 42 years and the only time there were not property tax increases in town was for the almost 10 years I served on the town board. Prior to that, there were always property tax increases every year before I was elected, and now every year since I left the town board they have started increasing property taxes again.
I also want to get the road traffic moving in the county. Right now, our road traffic is almost at a standstill at times. Instead of installing sidewalks on Route 6 in front of a shopping center at a cost of $2.5 million—which serve just about no purpose for the citizens, since 99.9 percent of the residents of Putnam County must drive their cars to the sidewalk in order to be able to walk on them (the sidewalks may be good for people who just hang out, but they serve no real purpose for the citizens of Putnam County)—I would have installed a painted, center-turning lane along Route 6, from the Westchester County line at Baldwin Place in Mahopac to the Village of Brewster. That would have helped to improve traffic flow all along Route 6, for a lot less cost to the citizens of the County of Putnam, than what it costs to install sidewalks, that just about no one in the county is likely to use.
I will go out and get good solid corporate businesses to locate in Putnam County, because we need real jobs that are more that just low-paying retail sales positions. We need high-tech, clean manufacturing companies, and white and blue collar jobs that can be filled by Putnam County's highly-educated citizens, who surely will be of benefit to the businesses that locate in Putnam County.
P: Are you in favor of the 2-percent property tax cap?
NM: The two-percent property cap is not really a two-percent property cap if you read the law as it is written and if you don't want to take my word for it, just look at what happened in the Town of Carmel last year. I believe the two-percent property cap turned out to be a more than six-percent property tax increase.
You see, there are all kinds of provisions in the two-percent property tax cap law that allow towns, counties and other taxing agencies to get around [it]. As everyone knows, governments, if they can, will always spend other people's money because it's easier for them to do that than to do the hard work that is necessary to cut taxes.
So no, I don't support the two-percent tax cap law as it is now written. What we need is a tax law doesn't allow any tax increases, a law that forces government bodies to look for ways not to increase taxes on its citizens.
P: What's your take on the Crossroads 312 proposal? Do you support it, as laid out by the applicant?
NM: The Crossroads at 312 project developers want or need a zoning change that must be approved by the Southeast Town Board, but the zoning change cannot be a spot zoning change, as that is not allowed.
Crossroads wants to build a 200-room, six-story hotel on the top of the site, plus retail stores and corporate park, totaling 540,000 square feet, plus 1,500 parking spaces, which is a very large project by anyone's standards.
The Town of Carmel already has a proposal for a large hotel only a couple of miles away from the Crossroads project. Can that area support two large hotel projects? I don't know, that is a question that needs to be answered, I think, before any zoning changes are made. But again, that is up to the Southeast Town Board, not me.
But Route 312 is another matter. Who is going to pay for the needed improvement to Route 312? Not the citizens of Putnam County I hope. If the Crossroads Project gets approved it should only get approved if the developer understands that they will be footing the bill to improve Route 312.
I want to see new business, but we need the roads to be able to handle any new projects that come along.
Developers always ask for the moon, so they must be told, that they will only be allowed to do what the earth can handle and not anymore than that.
P: What's your stance on term limits for Putnam legislators?
NM: I have been hearing about term limits forever. Every time there is an election, the newcomers say they are for term limits, but if they get elected they more than likely will not vote to limit their terms in office. Look at New York City Mayor Bloomberg, there was a two-year term limit for the mayor and he got it changed so he could run again for a third term. Watch out, he may get it changed again, but really, he just wants to limit what you can eat, drink or smoke. Yes, I think that there should be term limits that are rotating to replace only 40 percent of the elected officials at any one time, because you need someone ... who knows what they are doing when the new people get elected.
P: What's your take on sharing county sales tax revenue with towns and villages?
NM: It's easy for the towns and villages to say they want a share of some of the county's sales tax income, and maybe the county should do that, but it must be done in a way that is fair to every town and village. The county can't just hand out the same amount to everyone. Each town and village should be given a percentage of the sales tax that is generated by the business located in that town. But ... sharing of the sales tax with the towns and villages wouldn't help the property taxes get any lower if the towns and villages spend like there is no tomorrow.
P: What's your take on the emergency response efforts by local municipalities (namely Brewster and Southeast, as well as the County) over the past year (Irene, the October storm, etc). Did it suffice? If not, what needs to change?
NM: There is always room for improvement and one must learn from what they did right and what they did wrong. Overall, when it comes to how the county, towns and villages handle snow storms, they most often than not do a really good job of getting the snow off the roadways. I know the fire departments have helped many families pump out basements and get them medical attention when they need it, as does the , Carmel Police, Kent Police and the police departments, but you can only be prepare for what is likely to happen from past experiences and then you do the best you can do when the unexpected happens.
The utility companies in Putnam County, in most cases, do a good job. If you get your electric back in less than one hour, you think they're great, but if it takes three, four, five days like it has for me at times, you start to think they are not so great. But they start shipping in people from all over the USA and Canada when we really get hit hard and these guys and gals work long, long hours to get us up and running again as fast as they can. You know stuff happens.
P: What's your take on the possibility of a veterans cemetery in Southeast? , and although there has not been much news on it since, it was a controversial topic. Are you in support of it?
NM: From what I understand, it wasn't so much the veterans cemetery that was controversial, as a land swap with a developer that was going to have to be done, and that swap was a problem for some of the legislators. That swap needs more investigation to see all the motives behind the plan, and you can bet that is what I will do.
Editor's note: Patch asked each candidate the same questions. Some chose to respond via email, while others opted for in-person interviews. None of the responses were restricted by format or word count.
Stay with Patch today and tomorrow for profiles on the rest of the legislature candidates. And be sure to for more information on all the races that affect folks in Brewster and Southeast.