A planned forum on housing issues in Huntington was canceled last week after two Town Council candidates said they were unable to participate.
The Huntington Township Housing Coalition said it decided not to go forward with the two available candidates, Don McKay and Jennifer Hebert, after Republicans Theresa Mari and Brooke Lupinacci cited scheduling conflicts in declining to appear.
The coalition has rules similar to the League of Women Voters, which won’t allow those available to appear in forums if their opponents decline or are unable to appear, which has the effect of shutting down the available candidate.
Hebert said, “With the November election less than two months away, it’s important for voters to find out where candidates stand on the issues that affect our town. Events like the Huntington Township Housing Coalition’s Candidate Forum, which was originally scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 14, are a wonderful opportunity for the voters to hear directly from the candidates. As a candidate for town board, I look forward to these forums as a way to connect with the voters, and let them know clearly where I stand on the issues.
“That’s why I’m so disappointed that the Republican town board candidates very recently informed HTHC that they wouldn’t be participating in the forum.
:Housing and development are, by far, the issues I get asked about most as I’m canvassing in our neighborhoods. It doesn’t matter if I’m in Centerport, Dix Hills, Melville or any other area of our township, people are concerned and want to know where I stand. Certainly, an issue this important to our community warrants a forum where voters could hear directly from all four candidates.
“It’s truly disappointing that the HTHC Candidate Forum has been canceled. As a candidate, I’m very sorry that I no longer have that opportunity to reach voters directly.
“As voters, you should be very concerned that two of the candidates are unwilling to address the issues publicly.”
Huntington Republican chairman Tom McNally provided statements from his two candidates on housing that referred to the June Town Board meeting a proposal on basement apartments.
Lupinacci said, “Like many of you, I watched the Town Board Public Hearing on a proposal to allow basement and garage units as accessory apartments. While strong points were made on both sides, it is clear that the proposal is unacceptable to a majority of the community. I share residents’ concerns regarding its impact on traffic, the environment, and the additional strain on our local schools and infrastructure. That said, what the public says matters to me. I still believe we can find compromise to bring additional housing opportunities for seniors, veterans, and young people.”
Mari said, “On Tuesday evening, I witnessed a very spirited Huntington Town Board public hearing on the ADU proposal. This proposal would permit the usage of basements and garages as legal accessory apartments in the Town of Huntington.
“I was impressed that so many residents in Huntington Town attended the meeting and expressed their views and concerns with the Huntington Town Board. Supporters and adversaries of the proposal both were able to express their opinions; and it was very apparent that the proposal was not acceptable to most of the residents of our Town. Residents expressed valid concerns over infrastructure, schools, traffic and safety.
“I share those same concerns with the residents who opposed this resolution. I believe that we can find a way to provide solutions in housing, so that our veterans, seniors and children can continue to live in our beautiful town without significantly changing the character of our community.”