Thank you all for coming. It’s my honor to be here and to have all of your support.
I was asked not long ago if I ever thought I’d be running for office and the answer is simply “NO.”
So how did I get here tonight? The long story…
I was born and raised in Riverhead. My great-grandparents, immigrants from Poland and the Ukraine, once had a simple but self-sufficient life on their farm. I was raised on the last remaining corner of the original property. My very first job was picking potato bugs off of the plants. Eventually I was ‘PROMOTED’ to the more skilled work of weeding. By the time I was in my early teens I was helping to run our farmstand, stocking, selling and artfully arranging our vegetables and cut flowers.
I was an ambitious young adult. As I grew older, I sought challenges in Riverhead. When I wasn’t working on the farm with my mom’s parents, I spent a lot of time with my father, head of security for the IRS in Holtsville. His hobby was professisonal photography. In his basement darkroom, I learned my first formal trade. In the 1980’s, I moved up island to pursue opportunities not available in Riverhead. For me it was in the music business, working as a graphic designer, photographer and marketing professional.
20 years later, upon getting divorced, as a mom of three small children, I moved back to Riverhead. The kids and I still share my childhood home with my mom, here din Riverhead. My kids are in the Riverhead school district and one of them due to special challenges periodically has needed home schooling. Starting in 2007, in what was my first of many spontaneous community organizing initiatives, I volunteered as a local organizer, supporting the home schooling movement with communications and coordination.
I’m sure it will not come as a surprise to you when moving back to Riverhead, that I encountered difficulty in entering in the local employment market. I made my way to paying jobs by knocking on doors and that is what began the path that lead me to stand in front of you today. Since my job as the director of Marketing at the Suffolk Theater seven years ago, I have been directly involved in Riverhead’s leading community organizations. Following that came the opportunity to apprentice with the ‘C R E A T I V E P L A C E M A K I N G’ consultants that NY State funded to assist Riverhead in rebuilding our town. I learned that sustainable vibrancy in a town must be built from the INSIDE OUT. We, the community must engage.
My managerial skills led to opportunities to run the operations at the BID as well as Chamber as their Executive Directors (Yes, at the same time, that’s a story for ANOTHER day!) These opportunities enabled me to participate in fundamental bridging activities between these two organizations among others in our town. This new coordination and communication has led to strengthening some of Riverhead’s leadership infrastructure.
In parallel, the opportunity to practice creative placemaking led me to work as a major player in creating and reviving a group of sustainable festivals that you all know such as Alive 25, Art in the Park, Halloween Fest and taking the established Long Island WinterFest to another level to promote our local culture. Creating and managing these events is the backbone of community building and includes listening to and engaging our businesses, our non profits and local government all across the East End, and it’s working! My work in Riverhead leverages partnerships with a network of successful initiatives and partners including Patchogue’s chamber of commerce, the North Fork Promotion Council, East End Tourism Alliance, Hamptons Chambers and Discover Long Island. These relationships offer experience, insight, knowledge and contacts, paving the way to successful development and improvements for our whole East End.
The local events are reaching critical mass, in bringing our community together, building economic opportunity and encouraging demonstrations of our town pride, all contributing to what I know will be our direct participation and impact in the renaissance of the great town of Riverhead.
Priorities for the Democratic committee’s campaign include watching the town’s interest in the EPCAL property, critical Downtown Revitalization projects, updating the town’s Master Plan which should include thoughtful RT 58 development and personally, as someone who works in local marketing, I am also committed to contributing concrete elements to generate positive PR for Riverhead, both here and out of town, reminding ourselves and the rest of the world what a great place Riverhead really is.
The lessons learned on a farm made me who I am today. If you want something, you have to work for it and work is hard but honest. Many deals back then were done on a handshake and when you gave your word, you meant it. That’s the cloth I am cut from. I was taught to be diplomatic and respectful, create order in things and in plans and to have pride in my accomplishments. Not an apple or tomato left our family farmstand without being cleaned and polished. I learned to assess a situation quickly, find a solution and then roll up my sleeves and get things done. I owe a lot to my grandparents and my upbringing on the farm. That life gave me my core values. You can take the girl off the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the girl.
The responsibility of raising my three kids is motivating. Not only to take care of them but to be a positive role model and to shape our community for their future. I am committed to Riverhead and to being a part of the positive changes I know are possible, not just for you and for me but for my children and all of the children. I want them all to have the CHOICE to stay here if they want to, I want them to have the ability to learn a trade here and raise their own families here. So HERE has to be a place that’s desirable and vibrant. A better Riverhead.
I am blessed to have grown up here and I have earned this chance to serve my town and community in bigger and broader ways. I know many of you as professional colleagues. I hope tonight you take away something more about WHO I am and WHY I am here and as part of my campaign, I want to know more and more about each of you.
To have the opportunity to make a change, I need your help. In order to get elected, I need votes. I need you to pass the word and volunteer your time on my campaign. Please reach out.
It’s a difficult journey ahead, but that’s the story, nothing worth having comes easily.
Thank you so much for taking the time to listen and please enjoy your evening.