By Shoshanna McCollum
On March 2, 2015, Angie Carpenter will take the reins as Islip Town Supervisor. She was unanimously appointed by the Islip Town Board in late January to fill the vacancy left by Tom Croci after his election to the New York State Senate, making her the first female Supervisor in Islip’s 322-year town history. Carpenter comes to the job with 22 years of Suffolk County government experience, having served as Legislator of District #11 from 1993-2005, then elected to the position of Treasurer in November 2005, and winning two consecutive terms thereafter.
However, an established career in Long Island politics is never without its share of challenges. She lost her bid for County Executive against Steve Bellone in 2011, and their subsequent opposition on the subject of consolidating the County Treasurer and Comptroller offices was often quite fierce. Yet with dignity and resolve Carpenter emerged the stronger for it. Now she embarks on what should be an interesting new chapter.
FIN: Can you please describe your personal relationship with Fire Island?
CARPENTER: Oh, my gosh, it goes back many, many years! We used to take our family out to dinner in Ocean Beach and our office employees for staff outings. Then when I was elected to Suffolk County Legislature in 1993, Fire Island was a part of my district, and this ratcheted up my relationship with it. One of the officers of Suffolk County Marine Bureau introduced me to Fire Island Law Enforcement Safety Council meetings, and there I began to really understand what an important insurance policy Fire Island is for the mainland, both geographically and economically. We got to see that with Hurricane Sandy. Back then, I worked with former Suffolk County Executive Bob Gaffney and FIA President Jerry Stoddard on an island-wide erosion control district, but that was a hard sell. Now I feel I have come full circle.
FIN: Is it correct that you are taking a salary cut in order to accept the Islip Town Supervisor position? ($192,000 v. $102,500.)
CARPENTER: Yes, that’s correct. One of the newspapers recently tried to portray me as a “double-dipper” but the fact is that it actually is a pay-cut. I see this position as an opportunity to make a real difference in ways that have not always been maximized – Fire Island and beyond. Long Island MacArthur Airport being one such example. There have been many lost opportunities there, and presently we have less flights going through there. We have to bring Long Island MacArthur Airport back to what it was.
FIN: What are your hopes and intentions for the Town of Islip while you are Town Supervisor?
CARPENTER: Interesting … While being a County Legislator I learned you could make a lot of changes. My work with Suffolk County’s purchase of Sagtikos Manor is one such example. As a Supervisor you have your goals and want to accomplish them. What happened with Roberto Clemente Park was an unfortunate incident with the dumping. Cleaning it up now will be made a priority, but we can see this as an opportunity to improve all of our parks, which haven’t always been maximized to their full potential. The permitting process needs to be streamlined. When you let a project linger it hurts everybody. We have to have more user-friendly technology, and be certain we are doing things as cost-effectively as possible. We can’t keep raising taxes; people are choking as it is.
FIN: How will Fire Island fit into this bigger picture?
CARPENTER: Well again, you talk about the economy that Fire Island generates. The gateway through Fire Island is Bay Shore and Main Street benefits. Working from that aspect, and understanding and appreciating this, I’m one step ahead with over 20 years of involvement that will serve Fire Island and greater Long Island residents well.
FIN: It has been over two years since Hurricane Sandy, but recovery on Fire Island, as well as Islip remains ongoing. Where do we go from here, and what will be your role in it?
CARPENTER: There are people who still have not gotten back into their homes, both on the mainland and Fire Island. In the County we sought to secure tax relief, and not have people jump through hoops to get the aid they need. There was a Hurricane Sandy relief center set up in the building where I worked in Riverhead, but at first there was no signage to direct people, so no one could find it! We have to have some practicality when considering delivering services, be it a Hurricane Sandy relief assistance, or for a homeowner seeking to file a pool permit.
FIN: And what must the people do for the betterment of Fire Island and Islip?
CARPENTER: I think people need to involve themselves, not just sit back and complain. Hold your officials accountable. The local officials you elect can really make a difference in your lives, so speak up, attend meetings, be engaged. I believe this town will really blossom.
FIN: As devoted wife and mother of two how has family life reinforced your experience?
CARPENTER: (Laughs.) Being a mom is an incredible experience. Yes, I am going to bring that female perspective to the job. We want to solve problems when people come to us for help, and let them know they are appreciated for what they do. My sons, Richard and Rob, have wonderful families, and I am a fortunate lady to have them both living close to me right here in Islip. How lucky am I!
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