On October 20th, 2021, the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (NYLCVEF) held a forum with the candidates for Huntington Town Supervisor — Ed Smyth, Rebecca Sanin, and Eugene Cook — to discuss their stances on a range of environmental and sustainability issues. The Forum was moderated by NYLCVEF President Julie Tighe and environmental panelists included Adrienne Esposito from Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Eric Alexander from Vision Long Island, and Mariah Dignan from Climate Jobs NY.
Ed Smyth is a practicing lawyer in the Town of Huntington, a US Marine Staff Sergeant veteran, and serves as a Councilman on the Huntingtown Board following his election in 2017. Smyth is running on a platform of continued investment in green infrastructure, concerned primarily with insufficient sewer systems in the Town and poor water quality. He also holds deep concerns about solid waste management on Long Island and the closing of the Brookhaven Landfill in 2024, and the lack of economically or environmentally sound methods of transporting ash waste off of Long Island. In response to this, he intends to implement measures to reduce solid waste by tonnage, increase recycling, and implement organic recycling streams.
When asked about the issue of affordable housing in his constituency, Smyth answered that he would shift from the current system of requiring 20% of new developments to be priced as affordable housing, to instead selling all units at market value and putting the difference in profit margins into an affordable housing trust fund in an effort to increase homeownership. He also intends to upgrade the sewage treatment plan and minimize new development that typically leads to an increase in the flow of wastewater.
Rebecca Sanin has spent her career fighting inequity in underserved communities and is deeply concerned with the intersection between climate justice and social and economic inequality. She believes education is fundamental in addressing climate change and should be utilized such as in the case of teaching people how to transition to and maintain modern IA septic systems that reduce pollutants in waterways. She also is concerned with poor housing being a social determinant of public health and intends to implement more affordable housing and building opportunities.
If elected, Sanin intends to prioritize environmental design to promote safety in her community, such as changing traffic flow to reduce congestion or implementing more sidewalks to promote walkability. She also supports the federal Build Back Better agenda and believes that economic development depends on good jobs, fair pay, and community benefits. She further intends to incentivize Town fleets to reduce emissions and introduce more electric vehicles into her community.
Eugene Cook is a small business owner and has been a Councilman for the past 10 years in the Town of Huntington. As Councilman, he has fought overdevelopment in his municipality and takes issue with the drastic increase in housing costs that make homeownership much more difficult than in past decades. He greatly values communication with his constituents when making decisions for the Town, and especially prioritizes listening to the needs of small business owners, particularly during COVID times, as a small business owner himself.
If elected, Cook intends to mandate all homes with over 50% reconstruction to install new IA septic systems and implement grants to have them installed throughout the Town. He also hopes to convert Town buildings to natural gas to increase renewable energy usage and convert the Town’s fleet to all-electric vehicles.
Thank you to our partners and panelists: Adrienne Esposito from Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Eric Alexander from Vision Long Island, and Mariah Dignan from Climate Jobs NY. Early voting is held from October 23 to October 31, and election day takes place on November 2nd.
Submitted by Michaela Stones