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Nov 13, 2019 11:36 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Newly Elected Southampton Town Board Member Optimistic About First Term

Nov 13, 2019 11:36 AM

The newest face on the Southampton Town Board, Rick Martel, was not surprised when he won a seat on the board during last week’s election — especially, he said, after everything he has done to serve the Hampton Bays community for the past 40 years.

Volunteering since he was 20 years old, Mr. Martel said he has made enough friends in the town that he was confident he would be in the mix.

“I don’t think I would have run if I didn’t think I was going to be in the mix,” he said on Tuesday. “It was going to have to be the people who really knew me coming out and saying, ‘You know, I respect Rick and I’m going to throw a vote his way,’ and it worked.”

Mr. Martel is the owner of Skidmore’s Sports and Styles in Hampton Bays, and after collecting the second highest number of votes in the council race on Election Day — 6,134 to be exact — he will serve the next four years on the Town Board.

Joining him will be incumbent Town Board member John Bouvier, who collected 6,388 votes.

“My first plan of action is to listen and catch up,” Mr. Martel said. “I really need to get caught up on some of the issues. What you know on the street, what you read in the paper, and what you can catch up with online is not actually fact.”

The issues at the top of his list include getting updated on the Bel-Aire Cove Motel situation, in which Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman and the rest of the Town Board voted to demolish the dilapidated motel and come up with a plan for condominiums or townhouses.

In addition to getting updated on Bel-Aire Cove, Mr. Martel also said he wants to find ways to improve traffic along County Road 39 and find ways to keep young people in the town.

“Overall, in the whole town, we’re losing our young people,” he said. “We need to find ways to help them buy a house that allows them to stay here.”

He suggested the town look into ways to help with down payments or even provide grants to young homebuyers.

Four of the five current board members lean left, with outgoing Town Board member Christine Scalera being the sole Republican. Ms. Scalera could not seek another four-year term because of term limits.

In January, when Mr. Martel is sworn in, the 4-1 split will remain since he is a member of the Republican Party. But he said he is optimistic that the board will continue to get things done for the greater good of the town.

“A lot of the things they’ve done recently have been great things for the Town of Southampton,” he said. “I’m hoping to build on that. I think everyone brings unique qualifications to the board, so it’s not going to be one or the other. It’s going to be a combined effort. I don’t think we’re going to have a problem at all.”

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