TUESDAY, June 15th marks Margot Garant’s seventh appearance on the ballot since she first ran in 2009. A practicing lawyer and the daughter of Jeanne Garant, a former Port Jefferson mayor, she and the Unity Party have held Village Hall for twelve years.
Garant’s challenger, Barbara Ransome, has been an active Port Jefferson resident for 35 years. She has served as deputy mayor—a chief operation official responsible in the absence of the mayor—under Mayor Garant’s mother, and as village trustee.
During her time as mayor, Garant has worked to revitalize Upper Port Jefferson, spearheading numerous demolition projects to build new apartment buildings and tackle the challenging repair of Port Jeff’s eroding beaches. On her agenda are plans to explore wind energy and retrofit the power plant.
Public safety has also been at the forefront of Garant's career. She enlisted Code Officers to enforce regulations in the commercial districts, and worked with police to tackle instances of violence, including the March 24th shooting. Furthermore, exploding drug use (including heroin) in recent years has prompted Garant to increase the presence of law enforcement. The Mayor has a hefty list of building accomplishments too: new apartments, the Barnum Parking Lot, Chandler Square, and the refurbished Rocketship Park.
Garant faces some problems in Port Jefferson’s geography. Since flooding in the downtown area threatens businesses seasonally, the administration has requested additional funding and investigation into drainage systems. And with the Mt. Sinai Beach area requiring dredging while the East and West Beach bluffs rapidly erode, new retaining walls and sand deposits have been constructed in recent years.
Mayor Garant and her running mates, Kathleen Snaden and Stanley Loucks, argue that the party must retain power to follow through with their projects, especially concerning public safety, finance, and infrastructure.
In an email to The Current, Garant commented, “I believe it’s important, now more than ever, coming out of a global pandemic that our Village maintains its fiscal stability, its growth and its strong sense of place and tradition. I hope to be re-elected to advance our strong legacy of tradition and leadership and to partner with our school district to engage and inspire our children by their participation in local government and community service!” The mayor was unavailable for an interview.
Challenger Barbara Ransome's views largely align with Garant's, but they differ slightly on some topics. In a phone interview with The Current, Ransome stated that she and Suzanne Velazquez (candidate for Trustee) would bring “fresh eyes and new perspectives” to the office.
“The current administration has been in the position for twelve years. We think they’re tired leadership and have lost touch with residents. We also believe in term limitations, and we feel that there is a need for change,” Ransome said.
That change would involve review of the Village’s operational departments, including the code bureau (which deals with civil infractions of the law) and the planning and building department.
Ransome also discussed the creation of youth activity options like the construction of a bike park, indoor skateboard facility, or outdoor skatepark on village property: “[Young people] are as much a citizen here in the village as anyone else, and I would like to create some activity that would be recreational and healthy for them.”
She also says she will be a “full-time” mayor who will listen to the people, and be energetic in her new position. An active gardener herself, she made an analogy: “[After twelve years] you get a level of complacency and privilege. I think that needs to be cut in the bud."
Village elections will be held at the Village Center (101A East Broadway), on Tuesday, the 15th of June, 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM.
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