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William Swiskey Sr. during a candidate forum hosted by SoutholdLOCAL in 2015. File photo: Peter Blasl

Bill Swiskey eyes a last-minute, write-in campaign for village trustee

Former Greenport Village trustee and longtime utilities superintendent William Swiskey Sr. says he’s “seriously considering” mounting a write-in campaign for village board.

The election is Tuesday, March 21.

Swiskey was on the board in 2008 for one year, then lost election in his own right the following year. He’s run for trustee in each biennial election since — until this year.

After Monday night’s candidate forum, Swiskey, who did not circulate petitions to be on the 2017 ballot, said he is now thinking of a write-in challenge.

Trustee Mary Bess Phillips is seeking election to a third term and Trustee Julia Robins is seeking election to a second term. Challenger Paul Kreiling is a newcomer to electoral politics. Challenger Mary Given, a member of the village planning board, announced Sunday she is no longer actively pursuing election. She did not participate in Monday night’s forum.

“Nobody is willing to put themselves out on a limb,” Swiskey said. “It’s been a dull campaign.”

No one will ever accuse Swiskey of not being willing to go out on a limb. A regular at village meetings, Swiskey has opinions about almost every topic — and he isn’t shy about sharing them.

Swiskey said he favors a dollar-per-car fee on North Ferry.

He favors stepping up parking enforcement to “really enforce the parking rules downtown.” The traffic control officer should enforce timed parking: “Meters are not a bad idea. But they provide revenue more than they provide turnover,” he said.

“How many spaces are taken up by employees?” Swiskey asked. “We should set up a shuttle from Moores Lane for employees.”

Swiskey said the village board should look to residents for ideas to solve its problems.

“They’ve never had a real forum. There are a lot of smart people here with a lot of good ideas. Instead, they pay consultants lot of money for ideas that don’t work.”

Swiskey calls the Shelter Island cable “a done deal.” And to his mind, it’s not a good one.

“They could have gotten $5 million,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “Shelter Island doesn’t want a substation and they have juice in Albany. It’s money and influence,” he said.

“The governor appoints the LIPA people. A state authority can go over there and do it, but Shelter Island doesn’t want it, so the governor doesn’t want it, so LIPA doesn’t want it,” he said. “There’s no cpacity on the south side to send to Shelter Island. This is the one route they’ve got to take.”

That puts the village in the catbird seat.

“I don’t think the village board understood their bargaining position,” Swiskey said. “They sold out cheap.”

As for what to do with the $1.3 million “access fee” PSEG will pay to the village under the proposed agreement, Swiskey considers that a no-brainer.

“The bulkhead in Mitchell Park needs to be replaced and it will cost $2 million. That’s where that money should go. It’s logical and common sense. Mitchell Park is what made this village make a comeback.”

Swiskey, who said he worked for the village nearly 40 years, accused the village board of a lack of candor.

“They have a lot of big expenses coming up fairly quickly,” he said. Besides the bulkheading, he cites replacing the generators at the power plant as a looming expense.

“They can run those engines just enough to pass the capacity test,” he said. “It’s one thing to run an engine in parallel with the grid. It’s another thing when you have to run two engines — it becomes a lot more complicated.”

Swiskey believes it’s possible to win a write-in campaign.

“There might be a small turnout,” he said. “Some years we have 350, other years 400. I think 200 votes will win.”