By Emily Toy
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It's only been two months, and already Southampton Town Councilmen Brad Bender and Stan Glinka are "lovin' it."
After taking office in January, the two newbies are beginning to settle into their respective roles at town hall, with a focus on providing a better Southampton for the people.
"It's going great," Glinka said in an interview on Monday. "Everybody's been very welcoming. It's been great and I wouldn't expect anything but."
Glinka said he's had no trouble whatsoever with growing into his new position.
"It's been a very comfortable transition," he said. According to the Hampton Bays resident, combining two professions, one as councilman, the other as vice president at Bridgehampton National Bank, "has worked perfectly."
Glinka said he's been working on several different projects since being sworn in, with a major focus on supporting the Southampton business community.
Everything from revitalizing hotels, promoting tourism, and encouraging residents and visitors alike to shop locally are areas the councilman (who serves as liaison for the town's Business Advisory Council) deemed necessary for a more successful business community.
"My 21 years in banking really came into play with this," he said. "I've learned a lot in that time, but now I have the resources to produce something that will really impact the people. I'm also trying to make Southampton a more year-round place, as opposed to just a seasonal one," he said.
Glinka noted some local businesses are struggling to stay afloat, and need support from the town. According to the newly- acclimated councilman, there are other segments of the community in need of support, but by looking at the business side of it "more people will be impacted."
Glinka, who identified himself more as a businessman than a politics man, said he was "too cut and dry" to care about the political aspect of his new job.
"I'm happy to help, but I don't have time to be playing," he said. "However, I'm having a good time with all this so far."
For Bender, all those years of "sitting on the other side of the table" are proving useful in his turn as councilman.
"I knew what I was getting into," he said. "All of my previous involvement really prepared me. And so far it's been very enjoyable."
For the Northampton resident, the biggest challenge was the "information overload" within the first month in office. "But thank god I was already up to speed on how most things work."
Getting through the details of "housekeeping" was another small challenge Bender noted, adding he believes the current town board is working well together to "not have the same kind of town board" as past administrations.
Bender believes the current town board will do a better job of working together for the people of Southampton, noting the newly-renovated town board office promotes more positive interactions between the five board members. Recently the wall dividing the supervisor's office from the town council's offices was taken down. Now, the entire town board is housed together, rather than separated into two areas.
"I think this will provide for a better interaction," he said.
Bender said his main issues of concern included contractors having the proper insurance, licenses and permits to build within the town and enforcing said laws, which is something the town hasn't always done.
"I've heard complaints about this issue hundreds and hundreds of times," he said. Before being sworn in this past January, for years Bender was a general contractor, saying his current position serves, somewhat, as an extension of what he used to do.
Bender serves as liaison to the Highway Department, observing the equipment problems the department endured as a result of heavy snowfall this winter.
"We're taking care of it," he said, praising Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor. Bender said Gregor "did a fantastic job, and he's on budget."
According to the councilman, efforts are underway on his end to provide the highway department with "town wide fleet management as well as a five year plan for Alex's department."
Water quality and waste management are two additional issues Bender hopes to improve while he's on the dais.
"How we define waste treatment needs to be addressed," he said.
So far, the new position has been a "good fit" for the councilman. "I'm grateful I was selected and I really enjoy what I'm doing. And although there's lots of things going on, I'm even looking forward to a possible second term."