Port Jeff mayor to run for town supervisor

Dems announce their 2023 candidate lineup


Margot J. Garant is a longtime mayor and resident of the Village of Port Jefferson. She is currently serving her 14th year as mayor. Garant recently announced her candidacy for Brookhaven Town supervisor on the Democratic line, after announcing her retirement from mayor in February, and will run against current town deputy supervisor and Republican Dan Panico.

The supervisor seat will be vacated by current Brookhaven Town supervisor Ed Romaine, who will run for Suffolk County executive on the Republican line against Democratic contender and former federal and state prosecutor, Dave Calone. Current Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone is term limited and will leave office at the end of 2023. Also on in the county, Ryan McGarry, a resident of Patchogue Village, declared his candidacy for Suffolk County Legislature in the 7th District against Republican incumbent, Dominick Thorne.

“We’re excited that we have such a strong slate of diverse candidates on the ballot this year,” said Suffolk County Democratic chair Rich Schaffer. “With Dave Calone at the top of the ticket and experienced candidates like Margot Garant for supervisor and Ryan McGarry for county legislature, we’re confident in the Democrats’ chances at keeping the office of county executive and electing Democrats up and down the ballot in Brookhaven and across Suffolk.”

Garant and her family moved to Port Jefferson in 1974 when her father, Dr. Philias R. Garant, accepted a position at Stony Brook University’s new School of Dentistry. She is one of six children, graduating from Earl L Vandermeulen in 1982 with honors, and then attended Lehigh University, where she earned a B.S. in finance, economics, and urban studies. After graduating, she worked in the New York City Trade Towers for Oppenheimer and Co. Inc. She then began selling real property as an associate broker with Jeanne Garant Real Estate. In 1992, she then developed Long Island’s first web and Windows-based software for home searching as a shareholder and founder of the Visual Listing Systems Inc. In 1995, she went to Touro Law School and became a member of the New York State Bar Association in 2000. Since then, she has maintained a successful practice in the Village of Port Jefferson, specializing in real property and land use, corporations, trusts and estate planning. 

Garant was elected mayor of Port Jefferson Village in 2009, where she has maintained her title for 14 years. During this time, she has worked with the EPA to remediate the Lawrence Aviation toxic plume, as well as with FEMA and SEMO on various coastal restoration projects to protect and preserve Port Jefferson’s wetlands and beaches. She also prides herself on negotiating with LIPA and National Grid for a historic tax certiorari case and updating the village’s master plan to revitalize a Transportation Overall District with the MTA in upper Port Jefferson.

She has also balanced the annual $13.7 million budget with minimal impact to the residents while rebranding the village through her economic development efforts, preserved and upgraded Port Jefferson’s many parks, including the prestigious country club facilities with its five-star tennis courts and golf course. 

“Having worked as mayor in the village as part of Brookhaven Town, I see this as an opportunity to take what I have done here and translate to the town,” she said of her decision to run after recently announcing her retirement. “I have beautified our waters and dealt with agencies on the federal, state and county level. Having been chief executive officer, I know what responsibilities come with management staff and running departments. I think it was serendipitous,” she said of the timing, also noting she is qualified for the job. “I think the timing is just right.”

Garant plans to complete her current term as mayor through July. She will then spend a few months off and campaigning. Then, if elected, she will get straight to work in January.

The challenge, she said, is to work with the private sector and to reduce the town’s carbon footprint to facilitate the closing of the landfill to find alternative solutions that will not fall on the taxpayers’ back.

“The budget is $142 million, of which about $42 million is from the landfill. That is significant, and carting waste off the island will have higher removal costs, a trickle effect. We need smarter concepts and to get zoning for rail.”

She said her experience dealing with LIPA and National Grid will help her get the job done to help come to a better solution for all residents.

“Margot Garant is truly a generational talent that comes along once a decade,” said Brookhaven Town Democratic committee chair Anthony Portesy. “Her executive experience as the mayor of Port Jefferson has her uniquely positioned to navigate the complex waters of Brookhaven Town, Suffolk County’s largest township. Her problem-solving acumen is a virtue this town has needed and for the first time in a long time, Brookhaven voters have a real choice to move Brookhaven Town forward in Margot Garant this November.”

In the Brookhaven Town 5th District, planning to run against longtime councilman Neil Foley (R-Patchogue) is Democratic candidate Francis Salazar. Back in 2019, Foley was reelected with over 60 percent of the vote against Andrea Stolz.

Salazar is originally from Mahopac, N.Y., in Putnam County. He then attended SUNY Oneonta, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in history. He went on to attend Manhattanville College in Purchase, where he received his master’s degree in education with a focus on special education and social studies.

In 2006, he took a job with the Copiague School District as a special education teacher, where he served for 11 years before being promoted to dean and then chairperson of the Social Studies Department.  For the last four years, he has served as an assistant principal in Copiague Middle School.

Salazar has been a resident of Patchogue Village since 2008; he was also recently elected to the Patchogue-Medford Board of Education and began his first term in 2022.

“I have always been one who gravitated towards helping others,” he said of why he is running. “My entire career has been spent helping children and the community. I wish now to further extend my efforts by running for town council and give Brookhaven the representation it deserves.”

Democratic candidate Dr. Kerry Spooner will be running in District 6 for Republican councilman Dan Panico’s vacated seat. Karen Dunne will be running on the Republican line. Dunne is from Manorville, currently serves on the town’s planning board, and is the president of the Manorville Chamber of Commerce.

Spooner is the founder of Sound Justice Initiative, a nonprofit organization that provides educational opportunities to justice-involved people in Suffolk County, including teaching college-oriented courses in Riverhead and Yaphank jails. She has 20 years of experience teaching in higher education and lives in Calverton with her spouse and young son. 

In District 4, Democratic candidate Cameron Trent will run against Republican incumbent Mike Loguercio. Loguercio was reelected in 2019 in a close race against Democrat Cheryl Felice earned 46.61 percent of the vote.

Trent promises to advocate on behalf of the community and has served on the South Country Library Board and since 2019, he was twice elected as a member of the South Country Central School District Board of Education, serving two consecutive terms as vice president. Currently, Trent, a Bellport native, is continuing his education in health administration at Western Governors University.

Trent also worked as a legislative aide with the former presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature, Rob Calarco, and presently serves as a deputy town clerk in the Town of Babylon. “I believe we need a stronger town board, one with elected officials who are willing acknowledge a challenge and will work together, not walk away from solving the town’s looming budget and garbage crisis,” he said, noting that his platform is built on mutual respect and hard work. “I’m eager to get started in listening to the residents, making sure all voices are heard.”

The general election will take place on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 7.