Dr. Dave Bennardo, an educator who is running as a Republican for the Huntington Town Board, lists the need to return civility to the public square, in order to get things done.
What we have now, he says, is that “things we don’t allow our kids to do is okay for adults in the name of politics.” That behavior, he says, prevents people from working together to accomplish anything.
Instead, he hopes for nonpartisan leadership in Huntington that can “demonstrate the ability to cross party lines and make the work of the people take precedence, (and) bring intelligent discourse to town government,” he said.
Many of the topics he discusses, while nominally diffrent ideas, return to the theme of getting people to work with each othe across boundaries. He, along with the other three Town Board candidates, have repeatedly noted in forums how well they get along, and that they expect to remain friends no matter who wins, although that didn’t stop Huntington Republicans from a late-stage attack on Democrat Jen Hebert for her work as president of the Huntington school board.
He says his work as an educator can be brought to the Town Board, using his experience in developing budgets, reaching contracts with multiple unions, and handling transportation, personnel matters, weather emergencies and many other issues that also confront the town government.
A few short months after Bennardo took over as South Huntington’s superintendent in July 2012, Walt Whitman High School lost part of its roof to Superstorm Sandy, followed by having to cancel classes because of power outages and extensive transportation failures resulting from the storm that uprooted trees and block roads. His final year before retiring this summer was consumed with the problems of coping with Covid-19, its mandates and new disputes over the epidemic and how to respond to it.
He wants to develop a plan for the town tackle the many empty retail spaces in parts of town and work to get them back on the town tax levy. That could require rethinking zoning in certain areas to allow for small numbers of housing units on the second floors of those buildings. Spreading the levy, base tax requirements over more people and businesses could lower the cost to individual taxpayers. “Those empty buildings are something–they will become full taxpayers if people are willing to listen,” Bennardo said.And he says business needs to be a partner with the town.
While he he has a lot of ideas to improve the town and make work government better, many are also rooted in an improved process and the idea of listening to constituents, and establishing a tone that tells people someone is looking out for them and trying to solve their problem.
Bennardo and Sal Ferro are the Republican candidates in Tuesday’s election; Jen Herbert and Joe Schramm are the Democrats.