Joined by local officials and supporters outside Village Hall on Tuesday, Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy announced that he planned to run for a third term.
Along with Kennedy, Deputy Mayor Ronald Ellerbe and Village Judge V. Roy Caccitore are seeking re-election, while Evette Sanchez, the village court clerk, is running for village trustee. All four are running on the Unity/Home Rule line.
“Freeport is a successful, diverse waterfront community, and I want to secure its success for another four years,” Kennedy said.
“It’s an honor to be running again with this slate of candidates,” Caccitore added.
Kennedy, a U.S. Navy veteran, joined the village board as a trustee in 2009, and was soon appointed deputy mayor. In 2013 he ran successfully for mayor, promising not to raise property taxes.
Although a 5 percent increase in property taxes was included in the village’s 2020 budget — because of cost increases associated with the state’s new discovery law — Kennedy and village officials worked with state representatives to amend the law and provided full refunds to those taxed.
At a news conference on Tuesday, Kennedy touted his administration’s continued work on the village’s finances. In his two terms, Freeport has seen its reserves grow from $1.2 million to $24 million and its debt reduced from $160 million to $89 million.
In April, Moody’s upgraded the village’s rating to AA3, its fourth-highest rating, citing good fiscal management and aggressive efforts to save money and find revenue sources.
After Superstorm Sandy devastated the village in 2012, Kennedy led the effort to protect it from flooding, including the construction of a $1 million Emergency Management Center, the installation of pumping and check valve stations to reduce nuisance flooding throughout the village, and working with the Army Corp of Engineers on a proposal to construct tidal barrier gates at Jones Beach.
Kennedy was tapped by the Fire Department to assist with the purchase of two new fire trucks and a foam truck, and by the Freeport Housing Authority to work with the Federal Housing Authority during construction of the new Moxey Rigby affordable housing complex last year.
Members of the Civil Service Employees Association and Police Benevolent Association also came out to support Kennedy.
As was the case during Superstorm Sandy, the coronavirus pandemic has been another test of Kennedy’s leadership as the village, with nearly 50,000 residents, grapples with the third-highest number of Covid-19 cases of any village in Nassau County.
Early in the pandemic, Kennedy followed the state’s guidance to shut down the village. As it reopened in late April and early May, it became the first village in the state to distribute free masks and other personal protective equipment to residents.
After restaurants were cleared for outdoor dining, Freeport expedited requests from local restaurateurs to allow more outdoor dining spaces around restaurants’ perimeters.
Over the summer, the village saw about 50 new coronavirus cases per month, but last month the number shot up to 500 amid a nationwide spike, according to the County Department of Health.
Kennedy recently joined Freeport officers and building inspectors in patrolling the village to ensure people were following the state’s Covid-19 guidelines to combat the spread of the virus.
Village Hall also pushed for residents to be tested for Covid-19 often, and Kennedy, who was among the first wave of Freeporters to catch the virus, added that he hoped residents would opt to take the shot once a vaccine becomes available.
While Village Trustee Carmen Piñeyro has yet to announce her candidacy, she said she is contemplating running for mayor against Kennedy after receiving calls from several residents encouraging her to do so.
Piñeyro said she would finalize her decision in the coming days.
Village elections will take place March 16 next year.