Dr. Pamela Velastegui, a Centerport education and business professional, is running for Huntington receiver of taxes on the Republican and Conservative lines.
A new face in town politics, Velastegui has never run for public office. If she is elected, she hopes to use her school administration and finance background to benefit town residents.
She is challenging the incumbent Jillian Guthman for the positon.
“I thought this would be a great start for me to get into local government,” Velastegui said. “While I’m not a career politician, I really dedicated my life to public service. I see this as a great opportunity to use my skills to serve my community.”
Velastegui has 18 years of experience as a school administrator. Most recently she was the dean of academics at Green Vale School, where she established and developed the Center for Teaching and Learning. Now, Velastegui is the operations manager at her husband’s estate planning and wealth management firm, The Legacy Group.
“I know what it is to grow and service a multimillion dollar organization, and I’m very aware of the impact of customer service,” she said of her qualifications.
Velastegui stressed the importance of having a strong leader in the tax receiver’s office and is confident that she is the person for the job. She also said that she would work to reduce the long lines that people wait on at Town Hall to pay their tax bills.
“People have been turned away,” she said. “The distinction between me and the incumbent is I’m someone who works in the trenches alongside my team. I wouldn’t be shaking hands going down the aisle, but I’d be processing checks and getting things moving.”
The candidate shared some ideas for transforming the office, including upgrading technology, cutting down on costs, and educating the community about tax programs.
One of the ways she said she would cut down on costs is by reviewing the third party companies used to allow residents to pay taxes online. She said she would work to lower the cost to use this service to encourage more residents to pay online.
She also proposed the idea of setting up satellite locations for people to pay their tax bills in person, similar to what the town had set up when Covid-19 first hit. While she would ensure that everyone pays their fair share, she would also support reducing fees.
“While I can’t lower taxes, I certainly could do some things to save money,” she said. “I would lobby and support any legislation to help with the reduction of fees and penalties.”
Velastegui has been a Huntington resident for 15 years.
She holds a doctorate degree in educational leadership from LIU Post, two master’s degrees from Columbia University, and bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University. She and her husband, Jeff, founded and run a nonprofit, Sonrisa Foundation, to help children and families with financial struggles.
Velastegui has also served on the Thomas J. Lahey Elementary School PTA in the Harborfield School District.