meghan heckman, 2019 election

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May 20, 2019 4:47 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

East Hampton Village Trustee Barbara Borsack Will Run For Mayor In 2020

Barbara Borsack at a village board meeting on Friday, May 17.   ELIZABETH VESPE
May 21, 2019 1:36 PM

Barbara Strong Borsack, the first woman elected to a seat on the East Hampton Village Board, announced on Friday that she will run for mayor in 2020 against the former village police chief, Jerry Larsen.

Ms. Borsack said she will run on the Elms Party slate along with current board member Richard Lawler, whose seat is up for reelection next June, as well as newcomer Ray Harden.

During a recent interview at her home on Accabonac Road, Ms. Borsack noted that her family settled in East Hampton Village after the Civil War. In 1865, James Madison Strong, Ms. Borsack’s great-great-grandfather, built a house where Accabonac and Pantigo roads meet, and set up a compound where Ms. Borsack lives today.

“I love this village,” she said while sitting on a red Adirondack chair in her backyard on a sunny Friday afternoon. “The village has my heart. Everything is here.”

She explained that her ancestors participated in local government, with her great-grandfather serving as a town justice and her great-great-grandfather serving as a Town Trustee. “My family has always been involved in the community. It’s a family tradition,” she said.

Ms. Borsack said that for her past 19 years on the board, which she joined in 2000, she’s been a leader in the fight to protect and enhance the quality of life in the village. “If we don’t get involved then we can’t be upset when things change,” she said. “Change is inevitable.”

Ms. Borsack, 67, also serves as a board member on the East Hampton Healthcare Foundation, the East Hampton Historical Society, and the Southampton Hospital Association. As an active member of the East Hampton Village Ambulance Association, she’s served two terms as its first female elected chief and has personally responded to more than 3,500 emergency ambulance calls during her 30 years with the ambulance association.

She has also has served on the East Hampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals, and she chaired the Comprehensive Plan Committee before running for office in 2000.

During her tenure on the Village Board, she said, she has been a strong supporter of historic preservation and open space acquisitions, including the creation of three of four of the village’s historic districts, as well as the preservation of important historic properties such as the Gardiner property, the Thomas Moran house and studio, and the Isaac Osborn Farmhouse.

Recently, Ms. Borsack has supported legislation to ban the use of plastic bags and polystyrene products that create litter and are a danger to the environment, birds and marine life.

“You have to do things slowly,” she said of banning plastic and polystyrene products. “You have to take one step at a time and get people thinking in that direction. It’s a gradual thing. I’d love to see us eliminate a lot more plastic.”

Ms. Borsack has supported zoning limits on house sizes to encourage building in reasonable proportion to building lot sizes. Currently, a developer is building 11 houses on 7 acres that sit next to Ms. Borsack’s home, which was built in the 1920s.

“If it’s a historic home, there are limitations to what people can do to it,” she said. “That helps protect some of the beautiful architecture.”

The beautification of the commercial district has been one of her goals, she said, and she supports maintaining the commercial boundaries of the village while seeking ways to enhance the viability of local businesses. “We want to maintain the commercial core. We want it to be healthy but we also want to maintain the borders. It’s tricky. It’s not easy,” she said.

If elected mayor, Ms. Borsack said, she’d like to be easily accessible to all residents. “I’d like to do something so that the weekend people can also talk to me,” perhaps by having quarterly Village Board meetings on a Friday evening, or meeting with residents on the weekends, she said.

“Accessibility is important to me. I want to know what people are thinking and what they want,” Ms. Borsack said.

Water quality is an extremely important issue, she said, adding that the village has been studying Georgica, Town and Hook ponds for several years. Town Pond will be dredged soon.

“It doesn’t happen quickly, but after Town Pond is finished, we’ll tackle Hook Pond,” which is much larger than Town Pond, she said.

“I’m looking forward to hearing what people have to say,” she concluded.

Mr. Lawler is a fourth-generation East Hampton resident who in 1989 began his service with the East Hampton Town Police Department. He then transferred to the Suffolk County Police Department, where he served for 35 years in various investigative and supervisory positions.

Mr. Lawler began his career in village government in 2003 as a member of the Planning Board and served as the chair of that board for two years. In 2008, he was elected to the Village Board, and he was appointed deputy mayor in 2018. Since being elected to the Village Board, he’s served as police commissioner and beach liaison.

He has also served on the East Hampton Town Energy Sustainability Committee. Mr. Lawler, along with Ms. Borsack and the other current board members, supported funding and legislation to protect water quality, and to deal with surface water runoff affecting local ponds.

In addition to his work in village government, Mr. Lawler has been a volunteer with the East Hampton Fire Department for 30 years.

Mr. Harden was 2 years old when his family moved to East Hampton in 1965.

He worked for Riverhead Building Supply for 16 years before entering the construction business. He worked for Ben Krupinski Builder for the last 16 years, and recently took over ownership of the company.

In addition, he’s served as chief of the East Hampton Fire Department, of which he is a 20-year member. Currently, he is a fire coordinator for the 9th Division of the Suffolk County Fire Department and president of the East Hampton Village Fireman’s Benevolent Association.

Mr. Harden serves as co-chair on the East Hampton Village Zoning Board and is a member of the East Hampton Town Licensing Review Board.

Voting will be on Tuesday, June 16, 2020.

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