December 13, 2006

Mayor Bids Village Adieu

A chapter in Greenport history has come to a close.

Love him or hate him, Greenport Mayor David Kapell has left an indelible mark on the village canvas. And, after 13 years as mayor, he announced last week that he is not planning to run for re-election in March.

The mayor's decision was twofold. When he initially ran for office, Kapell had a number of objectives which have been met. One priority was lowering taxes. "We lowered taxes by 70% in 1994 and they're still 60% lower than they were in 1994."

Another achievement was the completion of Mitchell Park. Sporting an ice rink, transient marina and antique carousel, the park has rejuvenated and revitalized the village business district.

Kapell believes he's helped to effect an even more intangible change. "When I became mayor, Greenport was a profoundly depressed place — physically, economically and psychologically depressed. There was a culture of pessimism and defeatism, a culture of impossibility. Now, we have a culture of possibility."

Kapell was born in New York and worked as a restaurateur, freelance musician, night watchman and dishwasher, before relocating to Greenport in 1979 to take the job of community development director. Next, he served for four years on the village board and held the post of planning board chairman before running for mayor.

Kapell's bold decisions have often placed him at the center of a maelstrom of public controversy. Abolishing the village police force, bringing the Guardian Angels to the village and establishing a village census process to accurately account for everyone living and working in Greenport, including immigrants, has sparked a host of public discourse, not all of it positive.

"You have to take risks," said Kapell.

He hopes to devote time in the months ahead to his family — his wife, Eileen, and their grown children — and to his village business, Kapell Real Estate, Inc.

The mayor has no idea of who might next throw his hat into the political ring. But with Kapell's news coming only a month after longtime Trustee Jamie Mills' announcement that he will not seek re-election, winds of change are coming.

Kapell has no plans to leave Greenport. "My roots," he said, "are 2000 feet deep here." What he would like people to remember most about his time in the public eye, said Kapell, is that "I love the village."

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