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Oct 8, 2019 2:57 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

County Legislator Contenders Debate In Hampton Bays Monday

Linda Kabot and Bridget Fleming participated in a debate at the Hampton Bays Community Center Monday night. ANISAH ABDULLAH
Oct 8, 2019 3:22 PM

The two candidates vying for a spot on the Suffolk County Legislature debated important issues at the Hampton Bays Community Center Monday night.

Democratic incumbent Bridget Fleming is seeking reelection for her third term and her opponent Linda Kabot is looking to make a return to office. Ms. Kabot has 14 years of political experience that includes two years as Southampton Town supervisor, six years as a Town Board member and six years as the executive assistant to the late Town Supervisor Vincent Cannuscio.

They are running to become the county legislator for District 2, which covers the South Fork from Moriches to Montauk and includes Shelter Island.

The debate, co-hosted by the Hampton Bays Civic Association and the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons, had a modest turnout from local residents. Questions to the candidates came from Maria Hults, president of the civic association, Bill Sutton, managing editor of the Express News Group, and Judy Samuelson, co-president of the LWV of the Hamptons.

Major topics that were addressed included the county’s fiscal condition, septic system upgrades and the county’s septic rebate program, affordable housing, public transportation, the consequences of global warming and the ban on the release of balloons.

Moderators made sure to keep the debate to an hour, as the candidates had to participate in another debate in Flanders immediately after, hosted by the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association.

Ms. Kabot is running on a platform centered around restoring fiscal solvency for the county. She made her stance very clear during the debate, mentioning it in her opening and closing statements as well as repeating it in her responses to several questions.

“Suffolk County government is at a crossroads and the situation is dire. We have never been closer to the margin than we are now. We are at junk bond status,” she said in her opening remarks. “It's time for the people to regain control of the county and force the county to live within its means. Fiscal responsibility is the number one issue.”

She referenced a recent report from New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office, which revealed that Suffolk County is the most fiscally stressed county in the state for the second consecutive year.

As for Ms. Fleming, who has served the legislative district since 2016, she focused on her work and accomplishments during her career, including combating tick-borne illness and opioid fatalities, allowing for the installation of nitrogen-removing septic systems, and public transportation solutions.

Prior to being county legislator, she served on the Southampton Town board for six years and worked as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan for nearly a decade before that.

She talked about her push for more affordable housing on the East End and how her efforts helped develop the Sandy Hollow Cove Apartments and Speonk Commons affordable housing complexes in Southampton Town, the former of which had a ribbon-cutting ceremony that morning that she attended.

Mr. Sutton asked the candidates, starting with Ms. Fleming, about what measures the county could take on issues related to global warming. Ms. Fleming spoke about a new capital program for coastal resiliency management on a regional scale that she got passed last week. It was initially financed by $200,000 in legislative funding, she added.

“We are facing very real infrastructure costs that we have to get in front of,” the legislator said on the effects of rising sea levels.

Ms. Kabot then shot back and said, “We need to stop spending and doing capital program work until we get control of the finances of the county … Yes, we do need to look at climate change we do need to study and take a look at different things but first we must take the next year, year and a half, and fix the county's fiscal house.”

Candidates were also asked about the county’s septic grant program, which has caused an issue in which both septic system vendors and homeowners were taxed on the purchase and installation of new nitrogen-reducing systems. The question was if the candidates believe that residents who take advantage of the county grants should be subject to increased federal taxes.

The two women were in agreement that residents should not be taxed for participating in such a program, but they began to disagree on who was to blame for the taxing screw-up. Ms. Fleming blamed Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy, who is currently running for county executive, but Ms. Kabot defended the comptroller and instead blamed Ms. Fleming for undermining the program by “politicizing it.”

Ms. Fleming will appear on the ticket on the Democratic, Independence and Working Families lines, and Ms. Kabot will be on the Republican, Conservative and Libertarian lines. The vote will take place on Tuesday, November 5.

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Two Dirty Birds.
By themarlinspike (542), Northern Hemisphere on Oct 9, 19 9:29 AM
Turkey bridge is the mouth of local DNC. He has no clue but push his back door agenda as the County’s finances are in awful shape. Bridget Fleming, Jay Schneiderman, and Fred Thele tax and take from the working class families only to give it away.

Has anyone one of the above come up with a solution to address high tax rate communities on the east end?
By Hamptonsway (107), Southampton on Oct 10, 19 10:21 PM
Vote Fleming
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Oct 9, 19 11:16 AM
Linda Kabot's response to the question posed about climate change is wholly inadequate. We don't need another "study" we already know that the amount of atmospheric CO2 is greater than any point in human history. NOAA announced that CO2 reached 414.7 parts per million and that the effects are just beginning to be experienced. Climate scientists say we have to act NOW. What Linda has to do is read about the NYS Climate Smart Community Program to understand the climate priorities and plans and how ...more
By number19 (111), Westhampton on Oct 9, 19 1:23 PM
Thing is, Linda Kabot is so stuck on the County’s finances that she can’t get past that to talk about anything else. Her “answer” to the climate change question illustrates that perfectly. Not only does she not know about the imminence of the climate change threat, she doesn’t want to know. In her fixation on fiscal responsibility, she ignores everything else, including the existential danger of rising sea levels. Linda Kabot comes very close to being a climate change ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Oct 9, 19 6:42 PM
1 member liked this comment
TB a/k/a George Lynch, it seems to me as a CPA that Bridget Fleming, Jay Schneiderman, Sreve Bellone and Fred Thele have gotten very comfortable raising taxes, borrowing money and wasting taxpayers money. You don't have to waste money to provide services. We have not gotten our money's worth from either agency. It also seems to me that Bridget is conflating federal and county issues - maybe she is just using this as a stepping stone for a higher office just like her counterpart Jay Schneiderman.
By G.A.Lombardi (575), Hampton Bays on Oct 9, 19 7:29 PM
Turkey Bridge, I agree. Suffolk has not been irresponsible, we've beed dealing with a bunch of unexpected problems starting with Superstorm Sandy and it hasn't let up since. Should we ignore climate change and its corollaries such as tick- and mosquito-borne diseases and coastal erosion? Ignore the opioid abuse crisis? Ignore PFAS in the groundwater we all drink? Ignore traffic, lack of affordable housing, and our crumbling infrastructure? I could go on, but I think I've made my point.
It's ...more
By SilverSnail (16), Hampton Bays on Oct 10, 19 7:45 AM
I completely disagree - the TOS, the County and even the School Districts have become top heavy bloated big government. I am NOT a GOP, just a CPA. The governments and the school district taxes are unsustainable and all that the East End leaders have done is kick the can down the road especially over the last 10 years since the recovery from the "great recession". Good times may follow bad, but bad times follow good.
By G.A.Lombardi (575), Hampton Bays on Oct 10, 19 8:48 AM
"Climate change today is every bit as big a deal as WW II , maybe bigger." That is just plain insanity George, I know that you are a good little soldier and parrot the Party line but comparing the two is absurd.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Oct 11, 19 10:26 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By cedric (22), Southampton on Oct 10, 19 10:03 AM
Ms. Lombardi, I worked closely with CPAs all my professional life. Some were good, some not so good, as in any other occupational group. We have no reason to believe that you’re one of the good ones, so please stop waving the “I’m a CPA” banner at us as you’ve been doing for so long; it doesn’t bestow any credibility.

Indeed, close examination of your posts in this thread suggests that you don’t have the grasp of finance and economics that you would ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Oct 10, 19 11:41 PM
TB, - you may want to tread lightly on negative comments about my professional credentials - I worked very hard and take it very seriously. I wave the CPA flag, the Accounting and Tax degrees and 32 years in corporate america in various positions such as internal auditing, auditing, tax compliance and consulting, mergers and acquisitions and even economic development - working for the world's largest consulting firms and Fortune 1000 companies as a frame of reference, as opposed to potentially ...more
By G.A.Lombardi (575), Hampton Bays on Oct 14, 19 7:31 PM
This is one of the most interesting races on the East End between 2 very qualified candidates. Bridget Fleming's CV paints a example of an ideal high performing public servant - a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Hunter College's Honors Program, an awarded Univ. of Va Law School graduate, 10 years ADA under the great DA Robert Morgenthau, a successful track record as Southampton Town Councilor, and County Legislator spearheading advances in water quality protection (perhaps the East End's greatest asset), ...more
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Oct 11, 19 9:43 AM