Don McKay, the Town of Huntington’s former director of parks and recreation, is running for a Town Board seat on the Democratic and Working Families party lines.
The lifelong Town of Huntington resident was raised in Northport and now lives in Dix Hills. He has worked in government for 25 years and is currently the deputy director for Suffolk County’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation. If elected to the Town board, he says he plans to be a “voice of reason” and an empathetic leader.
“We need to restore common sense and caring to our local government and I am prepared to lead the charge,” McKay said. “As a public servant for 25 years, I’ve always strived to carry out my responsibilities in a fair and honest manner.”
There will be two vacant seats on the Town board, left by outgoing council members Democrat Joan Cergol and Republican Eugene Cook, for voters to decide on in November.
McKay noted that he hopes to prevent a possible 5-0 Republican majority on the board, including Supervisor Edmund Smyth and Councilmen Dr. Dave Bennardo and Sal Ferro, whose terms end in 2025.
“It’s imperative that we have checks and balances to hold the majority accountable for their votes and actions,” he said. “I am running to make sure that there is accountability and a checks and balances on the Town board.”
McKay cited affordable housing as one of the most important issues facing the Town. Gov. Kathy Hochul’s controversial affordable housing plan, the New York Housing Compact that is pending approval in the state budget, would push municipalities to build housing. While McKay is glad Hochul is bringing this issue to the forefront, he has concerns about certain parts of the plan.
“A board in Albany would have the jurisdiction to override local zoning, which I totally oppose,” McKay said. “We need to keep control of local zoning at the local level.
“The governor does deserve some praise for raising the issues of affordable housing because we need to do more,” he added.
McKay also cited taxes, budgeting, and zoning as pertinent issues he’d tackle as a councilmember, raising concerns about continued delays in obtaining building permits in a timely manner.
“Promises were made to drastically reduce the time in which applications would be turned around and permits approved,” McKay said. “Here we are more than a year later and the delays continue.”
McKay spoke against a proposed 350-unit apartment building on Jericho Turnpike near Manor Road, calling the proposal “way too intense of use for that property.”
“We do need housing, but not [developers] coming into a neighborhood and putting in a mini city,” he said. “It’s just too much.”
He also spoke against a proposed highway tax for residents. He suggested instead using the highway department’s surplus budget to repave roads in the town.
“Instituting a new tax is not the solution for the residents,” McKay said. “It could not come at a more awful time for them. We have to stop turning to property tax to resolve our problems, and we need to cut spending wherever possible.”
McKay said he’d like to reconvene the town’s commercial fishing advisory board to help local baymen and advocate for the local fishing industry.
“I’ve done my best to solve neighborhood and community problems, working with business and civic groups to finds common ground and solve issues. We need that more than ever on the town board.”
He added that he would work toward strengthening relationships between Town officials and mayors of the villages within the Town: Northport, Asharoken, Lloyd Harbor, and Huntington Bay.
First in a series of profiles of candidates running this year for election to the Town Board, as town clerk and town receiver of taxes, and to the Suffolk County Legislature.