Islip Town Council MemberPosted: 10/28/2017 11:45:00 -04:00 Updated:
Patricia Bergin-Weichbrodt - C, IN, R, WEP
Bergin-Weichbrodt, 46, of East Islip, is running on the Republican, Conservative, Independence and Women’s Equality lines. She was first elected to the board in 2010 and is now seeking her third and final term on the Islip Town Board as she will be term-limited. She grew up in Ronkonkoma and received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the New York Institute of Technology and a master’s in journalism from NYIT. She is involved with St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church of Bay Shore, her homeowner’s association in East Islip, and the PTAs of her children’s schools. She is married and has four children.
“I focus on being a fiscal watchdog for the taxpayers of Islip and bringing honest, good government to the town,” Bergin-Weichbrodt said. She said her top priorities are to rein in “excessive spending” in the government. “It’s not a personal clash. I’m very adamant about trying to keep spending in check and keep borrowing at a minimum and staying under the (state-mandated property tax) cap,” Bergin-Weichbrodt said, and added, “I won’t work with anybody who intends to pierce the cap.” She pointed to several raises given to senior administration officials and commissioners last year as an example of where to trim the town’s financials. “I’m not in favor of excessive spending,” she said. “I only agree to spend money where I feel it’s necessary for the safety for our residents.” If re-elected, Bergin-Weichbrodt said she would focus on improving the amenities in the town for residents. “I would like to see our marina and our parks and our waterways kept in safe, running and pristine condition for the residents of our communities,” she said.
Jason P. Fenley - D, WF
Fenley, 40, of Brightwaters is running on the Democratic and Working Families lines. He is a commercial litigator who grew up in Babylon. He received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Colorado Boulder and his law degree from New York Law School. He is scheduled to earn his MBA in public finance from Rutgers University in December. He is a member of the Bay Shore Lions Club and had served as acting Brightwaters village justice from 2015 until this year, when he resigned to run for Islip Town Board. He’s also a member of the Long Island Association and the Long Island Builders Institute. He’s married, with four children.
This is Fenley’s first time running for office. “I would say what I’m really looking for is simple common sense reforms,” he said. With the current town board made up of four Republicans and a Conservative, he said, “nobody is challenging them.” Fenley said having a different voice on the board would have brought more debate and accountability to some controversial programs, such as the Bay Shore meter program. “So there’s nobody challenging them to really be beholden to their voters more,” he said. He also wants to “rein in spending and focus on the budget” with streamlined processes and shared services, as well as increased transparency and holding board meetings at night instead of 2 p.m. Fenley also said he supported the massive Heartland mixed-use development recently approved by the board, but the board missed an opportunity to get more concessions for mass transit out of the developer.
Samuel J. Gonzalez - D, WF
Gonzalez, 56, of Brentwood is running on the Democratic, Working Families and Women’s Equality lines. A union leader, he grew up in Brooklyn and has lived in Brentwood since 2002. He is the president of IBEW Local 1430 and attended the AFL-CIO certification program at Cornell University in 2013. He is also studying to become a chaplain and is a member of the Latin/African American Chaplain Association. Gonzalez is on the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement and a member of the Brentwood Knights of Columbus and the Lions Club. He ran unsuccessfully in 2012 for state Assembly against Phil Ramos in the Democratic primary. He is married with two children.
Gonzalez said that, if elected, he’d work to lower town taxes as well as fees such as the Bay Shore parking meters. “When you see our taxes, it’s just ridiculous. I could get there and really do a deep dive into this budget because I think our community needs to understand where the waste is, where the money is,” he said. He also wants to help small businesses overcome bureaucratic obstacles. “It takes forever for a small business owner to open a new business here because there is so much red tape,” he said. Gonzalez has been a critic of the town’s handling of the contaminated debris found dumped at Brentwood’s Roberto Clemente Park, and he is skeptical of the town’s promise to reopen the park’s pool by next summer. He said he would bring accountability to the board and better represent communities he says have been overlooked. “Not only Brentwood, but Central Islip has been neglected for years,” he said.
James P. O'Connor - C, IN, R, WEP
O’Connor, 54, of Great River is running on the Republican, Conservative, Independence and Women’s Equality lines. He grew up in Westbury and Carle Place and moved to Great River 13 years ago. An insurance attorney, he received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Boston College in 1985 and his law degree from Hofstra University in 1988. He is a Great River fire commissioner and part of the Knights of Columbus. He is also secretary of the New York State Bar Association’s Torts, Insurance, and Compensation Law section, and the first vice president of the Defense Association of New York. He also is active in autism awareness causes. In 1995, O’Connor was elected to the North Hempstead Town Council and served one term before losing a bid for re-election in 2001. He lost a bid for Suffolk County executive in 2015. He is married with three children.
O’Connor said he’s running because “on a personal level I have a real fundamental belief in public service,” he said. “I’ve always tried my best to serve my community and give back.” He believes the town’s current leadership is doing well, especially financially. “I think it’s important to point out Islip has a AAA bond rating, which is the highest bond rating you can get. Even the biggest detractors have to concede that the town government, from a financial perspective, is well run,” he said, calling Islip “a great place to live.” O’Connor said if elected, he wants to tackle “the scourge of the opioid addiction crisis” by implementing “stronger community systems” to help people in need. He also wants to deal with gang culture in the town with more youth programs.