The Port Washington Water District’s election for one of its water commissioners is a competitive race, with incumbent Peter Meyer and challengers Charles “Chuck” Idol and Mark Gibbons vying for his seat in the Dec. 12 election.
Meyer has been one of the three water commissioners for the district since 2000, serving as the board’s secretary. The other commissioner are Chairman David R. Brackett and Treasurer Mindy Germain.
Efforts to contact Meyer were unavailing.
Idol, a business and technology consultant, is a longtime resident of the North Shore who moved to Port in 2017. He has worked in the high-tech field for multiple banks and the federal government for about 30 years.
He said he was inspired to run for this position due to his prior efforts to ban Pentachlorophenol, a toxic chemical that was present on the poles erected during Superstorm Sandy and prior in Port Washington and around Long Island. He said he has received environmental awards for his leadership in fighting to ban the chemical from the town to the House of Representatives, with his advocacy beginning in 2012.
Idol said chemicals, including pentachlorophenol, are affecting the cost of water due to the needed infrastructure and technology to remove it from the water system. He finds the growing need to address the issue “very concerning.”
“We all across Long Island have to do something to help reduce the costs and manage the costs of water,” Idol said. “The increases that are happening year over year are of concern to me.”
Gibbons is a general contractor who said he started his local company at the age of 16. He said much of his work is on residential homes in Sands Point, but he services many other homes and restaurants throughout Port Washington.
He said he was inspired to run for water commissioner after receiving support from his community. He said he sees himself being able to return the favor and give back to his community.
“This community has given me one opportunity after another opportunity after another opportunity to grow my incorporation,” Gibbons said. “I started as an absolute nobody, nothing, not knowing how to do any of this stuff and I got an opportunity.”
Gibbons said he views the water district akin to a construction company, saying that his experience as a contractor will translate into the role.
Gibbons said that he would also bring in a new generation of water commissioners, vying for the seat long held by Meyer.
“I don’t know gow many people after 23 years of service are still excited about their job,” Gibbons said. “I’m excited to serve the people of Port Washington. I’m excited to learn everything I possibly can about the Port Washington Water District that I don’t know yet.”
Gibbons said that as a contractor in the area, he has worked with members of the water district on projects.
“So I already have a good working relationship with a lot of the employees and the higher- ups over there so I think I’ll meld right in,” Gibbons said.
Idol said his prior work experience has lent him the skills to fulfill the management, technical and science aspects of the role, and he is now looking forward is focusing on the financial aspects.
He said one idea he would bring to the role is working to expand the tools for residents in the water district to monitor their water on a more regular basis, including apps and web interfaces.
Idol said he is forward thinking, aiming to bring change to the water district.
“I will be an outspoken advocate for a better environment,” Idol said. “I will not just be a commissioner…we need to think forward.”
Gibbons also expressed a future-oriented approach to the position, saying he is looking at his potential work with the water district as proactive measures to face future issues with a growing water district.
“What I’m going for is looking into the future because we know that there’s going to be several roadblocks in the future. There always is,” Gibbons said. “I just want to bring some new blood. I’m going to bring some excitement into it.”
One initiative he would advocate for is more land from Nassau County to establish additional plants, filtration and wells.
“They’ve come out to us and said that ‘we’re not going to sell you any more land,’” Gibbons said. “It’s apparent that within my children’s lifespan we will need more land. We’re going to have to start pounding at it now because if there’s a problem down the line, it could affect everybody’s drinking water in Port Washington.”
Also in Port Washington is the election for a commissioner for the Port Washington Water Pollution Control District, also known as the sewer district.
Commissioner Melanie Cassens is running for re-election with no candidates filing to run against her.
Cassens was elected to the board in 2018 to finish the last two years of the term left by her father, John Olszewski, after his death the July before the election.
Residents of the district can vote from 12-9 p.m. on Dec. 12 at the Polish American Cultural Association at 5 Pulaski Place in Port Washington. All of Port’s special district elections will be held there at the same time, including the Water District, Water Pollution Control District, Police District and Garbage District.