A former marketing executive who managed PepsiCo and Frito-Lay’s retail advertising is running for mayor of Sag Harbor.
Kathleen Mulcahy, who moved to Sag Harbor in 1995, handled $200 million budgets and a team of more than 250 creative and managerial staff, and wants to bring long-term strategic planning and zero-based budgeting to the village. The mother of two said because surrounding villages are facing many of the same issues, she’s hoping municipalities can work together on solutions.
“I came to Sag Harbor because I like the size and scale of our village and I like the historic nature and the community feel that Sag Harbor has. It felt like a home and a place to bring up children, and I’d like that to continue,” Mulcahy said.
“We want to maintain the character of the village and if we don’t have long-term planning and have an idea of where we want to go, it’s easy to go off the rails and it would be easy for the village to lose some of the character that makes it so special, that makes it such a great place to live,” the candidate added.
Short-term, Mulcahy would like to make the village board more accessible to the public, which would include quarterly Friday afternoon or Saturday morning meetings, rather than having them all on Tuesday evenings.
“I want to make it easier for residents to have their thoughts known, more open office hours to have the public feel they’re able to come in and talk about their concerns. I want better communication in general,” she said.
Although she first bought a house in the village in 1998, Mulcahy said she has been coming to the East End with her family her entire life. Her grandfather was a business partner of Carl Fisher, the man who laid the foundation for the resort that is Montauk today.
As her children, 24-year-old Colman, who was a pitcher for Pierson, and her 21-year-old daughter Kerrie, who was involved in theater, moved through the school district, Mulcahy found herself getting involved. She’s still currently on the board of Sag Harbor Kids, a volunteer organization dedicated to curating and managing the nonprofit’s website that’s a calendar and contact point for youth-oriented places and events on the East End.
In 2016, she and three other like-minded Sag Harbor residents founded Main Street Conversations, a monthly gathering of concerned residents who discuss issues such as immigration, gun control, and local and state politics, and meet with local leaders in an effort to make a difference in the community.
Besides visibility and transparency within the village, she’d like to tackle cleaning up Havens Beach and protecting the waterfront, parking and traffic, and spearheading the Long Wharf Pier restoration project.
For current Mayor Sandra Schroeder, who is seeking her third term, those are things she, too, is preparing to face.
“We have to start a long-term plan on drainage and road runoff,” said Schroeder. “The water table is coming up. We’re a low-lying area and we have to have some long-term infrastructure put in place and it has to be done soon. We have so many houses so close to low water and it’s heartbreaking thinking of what could happen.”
The village board just adopted the beginning phases of the Long Wharf renovation project two weeks ago. She’s also worked on union contracts and renovating the Municipal Building over her tenure, adding she’s volunteered all her life because of the satisfaction it brings.
“It’s a full-contact sport,” she said of being mayor. “It makes me feel so good when you get to do things for people, even when the rest of the world doesn’t know about it. I’m hoping I’m re-elected — get to continue this work. It’s fun. Good stuff. You can help more people this way.”
Mulcahy said when it comes to the Long Wharf renovation, she thinks there’s money to be found. She said she also thinks the village is in “desperate” for a manager or administrator.
“Right now the board comes up with great ideas and there’s lots of great plans, but we don’t have the manpower to get as much done as we want,” Mulcahy said. “The manpower and the budget. Rather than putting it on the village clerk, we should have someone making these plans happen.”
Silas Marder, a landscape and furniture designer and former gallery owner; Bob Plumb, president of Salt Construction Corp. and a current member of the Sag Harbor Zoning Board of Appeals; and Jennifer Ponzini, a real estate agent and attorney who formerly served on the village’s ZBA, are running along with incumbent Trustee Aidan Corish, who is seeking his second term, for two seats on the board. Incumbent Ken O’Donnell said he would not seek a fourth term.
“I’m very confident that I’d be able to work with any of them, the current trustees as well,” said Mulcahy, who has known Plumb since they were teenagers, and supported Corish when he first ran.
The village election will be June 18 at the Sag Harbor Firehouse on Brick Kiln Road.