The Putnam Examiner

Southeast Candidates Announce Run for Vacant Council Seat

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Less than a week after former Southeast councilwoman Liz Hudak resigned from her elected position, two candidates have come forward to run for the vacant seat.

With less than two months before Election Day, Democrat Melinda Montanaro and Republican Eric Larca will face each other to complete Hudak’s term, which ends in 2021. Montanaro was selected Tuesday by Southeast Democrats and Larca was picked by Southeast GOP leaders Wednesday to run for the position.

Hudak stepped down on Sep. 14, citing family and personal health issues.

Montanaro, who was a candidate in 2017, said a year after she ran she believes Southeast is encountering the same issues, including the crunch small businesses are feeling. A sense of community is ruined when only big businesses open in the area, she said.

Speaking out at different board meetings in the town, Montanaro said becoming a councilwoman would give her the opportunity to push for smarter development.

Montanaro, who knocked on more than a thousand doors last year when she ran, said now she has the chance to reach even more voters with her name already out there from a year ago.

Larca was born and bred in Brewster and graduated from Brewster schools. Several Republicans wanted to run for the open seat, but Larca, who was rumored to be prepping for a run next year, was able to get the nod.

Larca said there is no candidate more informed and more involved that he is. Larca originally got more involved in the town by joining the planning board two years ago and during his tenure, he hasn’t missed a public meeting and staff meeting.

“I just love this community, I love the process, I love to know what’s going on and I love to have an impact,” Larca said.

A first time candidate, Larca conceded he’s “green to the process” and with such a short period of time between now and the election it could make things more difficult. He still needs to set up an election committee to raise funds and purchase lawn signs and other campaign literature and material.

The town election could be one of the most consequential in Putnam County this election season. With a logistics center proposed in Southeast and requiring town board approvals, one vote could shift the direction of the town. Currently the town board has two Democrats, Councilwoman Lynne Eckardt and Councilman John Lord and two Republicans, Supervisor Tony Hay and Councilman Edwin Alvarez.

Northeast Logistics is seeking to open a 1.1 million square food site on 328 acres of land located off Puglsey Road. There would be four buildings with the closest warehouse 950 feet from Route 312.

Larca, who is considering the application on the planning board, said he has definite concerns with the project like environmental, traffic, and noise issues. He added it doesn’t seem like the community wants it.

“I get that,” Larca said. “I hear them.

He said the project has a lot of work in front of it before it can be considered. But he said the project still should be reviewed by the appropriate boards and follow the process.

Montanaro was even more blunt, stating she would vote against any zoning changes for the project if it came before the town board under its current proposal. The list of concerns are long, Montanaro said, and stressed the project is wrong for that parcel of land. The logistics center would chop off hilltop views, compromise wetlands, and inject enormous tractor- trailers on town roads, leading to traffic, noise and “cancer causing fumes.”

“It’s very concerning,” Montanaro said. “I think we need to build better.”

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