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Jun 14, 2011 2:15 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Patricia DiBenedetto Is Making First Bid For Public Office In Westhampton Beach

Jun 15, 2011 1:28 PM

Although Patricia DiBenedetto may have the least recognizable name of the three candidates seeking election to the Westhampton Beach Village Board on Friday, that does not mean she hasn’t been involved in life around the village.

A resident of Westhampton Beach for eight years, Ms. DiBenedetto has served on the village’s Planning Board since 2008 and also been heavily involved in the Westhampton Beach School District’s Parent Teacher Association, serving on its Beautification Committee. Ms. DiBenedetto, who says she was asked to serve on the Planning Board by both Mayor Conrad Teller and Trustee Toni-Jo Birk, is also in charge of fundraising for Westhampton Boy Scout Troop 62.

Ms. DiBenedetto—who has two children, Lucy, 13, and Sal, 11, attending the school district—pointed to her involvement in the building of a new playground at Westhampton Beach Elementary School as one of her proudest accomplishments. She explained that making her first run for public office was the “next logical step” to take in becoming more involved with the community that she loves.

“Everything that I’ve done so far since coming here has had a positive result,” said Ms. DiBenedetto, 49, who lived in Sayville before moving to the East End with her husband, Mauro, a dentist with a practice in Holbrook. He is also a volunteer with the Westhampton Beach Fire Department.

“Whenever I have been asked to do something, I put all my effort behind it,” continued Ms. DiBenedetto, who does computer design work for Plans East Design in Quogue following a career working as a technical production manager for both MSNBC and NBC Sports. “People see what I have done and, as a result, they have a trust in me,” she said.

Running as a member of the Lightning Party alongside incumbent Trustee Hank Tucker, Ms. DiBenedetto said she came to know her running mate because their children play sports together after school. “He has faith in me and I have faith in him,” Ms. DiBenedetto said of Mr. Tucker.

Asked what she wants to accomplish if elected, she said she will push to have complete agendas posted on the village’s website before the trustees’ public meetings each month. She noted, however, that she does not have any specific agendas or loyalties—two things she hopes will reassure voters that they can trust her.

“I don’t have a platform and I don’t play games,” she said. “In fact, I quit law school because of the game-playing. There are a lot of issues that are presented to the trustees and the two-year term limits what you can do, but you have to treat every issue the same and challenge yourself daily.”

When asked if she felt ready, if elected, to take on emotional or controversial issues affecting village residents as part of her duties, Ms. DiBenedetto said that she was. She declined, however, to speculate on how she would have voted on a recent hot-button issue: whether or not to discipline two Westhampton Beach Police officers who were charged with lying to outside investigators after another officer’s handgun went missing.

She also said that an application to create a symbolic Jewish religious boundary, called an eruv, in Westhampton Beach should never have been a political issue. “If the community wants it, then they should vote on it, but it has gotten out of hand,” she said, referring to the lawsuit filed against the village, as well as Quogue Village and Southampton Town, by the East End Eruv Association. “If people want it, then they should come out and say if they do.”

“Everyone is entitled to their opinion,” she added. “That is part of what makes the community great. There are always people that are not happy, but you have to reach the majority.”

Noting that she has been a frequent attendee of the trustee meetings in recent months, Ms. DiBenedetto said she hopes to see more residents attend them in the future.

“There has to be more community awareness,” she said. “I would like to see more faces from around the village at these meetings. Everyone has the right to their opinion and they need to have their voice heard to do that.”

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