At the December 19, 2017 General Meeting, a month and two weeks after being elected to her second term in office, Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming was back in the Legislature working hard for the people of her district, co-sponsoring two important pieces of legislation, and honoring a native daughter of the East End, Autumn Rose Williams, for her performance and accomplishments at the 2017 Miss Native American Pageant, where she was crowned Miss Native American, USA.
Autumn Rose is a lifelong resident of the East End. She was born and raised on the Shinnecock Indian Nation Reservation. She attended the Ross School, and the Virginia Commonwealth University. She plans to use her platform to empower women. Congratulations Autumn Rose!
The 2018 Vector Control Plan, which was co-sponsored by Legislator Fleming, passed the full Legislature with the continued goal of reducing or eliminating the use of pesticide spraying by using pilot programs, like a project sponsored by Legislator Fleming at Accabonac Harbor, which aims to reduce pesticide use through science-based larval counts and wetlands restoration efforts. The cooperative project with the Town of East Hampton and The Nature Conservancy began in 2017 with Stony Brook University student interns conducting larval counts to identify breeding locations of mosquitos, which are logged by GPS, compiled and characterized by location and level of activity. Using the data, aerial treatment zones will be remapped, allowing for reduced pesticide use, and for planning wetlands restoration actions. This method has led to the reduction of the use of methoprene elsewhere in the County and was made possible by the efforts of Legislator Fleming; Director of Vector Control Tom Iwanejko; Suffolk County Public Works Commissioner Gil Anderson; East Hampton Town Director of Natural Resources Kim Shaw; members of East Hampton Town Trustees; and Kevin McDonald and Nicole Maher of The Nature Conservancy. The idea for the pilot project originated on December 8, 2016 when, at a meeting that was held at East Hampton Town Hall, the County and the Town Trustees agreed that they would work together to undertake education efforts and wetlands management measures, with a goal of reducing or eliminating the use of methoprene.
“One of my primary goals since I was elected has been the reduction or elimination of pesticide spraying” said Legislator Fleming. “I am very proud of the progress we have made to date on this. Director Iwanejko has been a great partner, he has engaged in numerous wetlands restoration projects that include the goal of reducing or eliminating the need for mosquito spraying, including the program at Accabonac. I feel strongly that it is in the best interest of our environment to support the continual forward movement of the Department toward a better, cleaner environment.”
Legislator Fleming also co-sponsored a groundbreaking campaign finance reform bill, which amends the County charter to establish a fair election matching fund. The bill was sponsored by Deputy Presiding Officer Rob Calarco to create a public financing system for County elections, a voluntary program which will be funded by revenues collected from OTB.
“I believe the toxic influence of big money on our political system inevitably creates larger budgets. Public financing allows dedicated community members access to the political system, which will lower government spending in the long run” said Legislator Fleming. “Today, we have the opportunity to be leaders on an important issue that is crippling our democracy. I am thankful to the Deputy Presiding Officer for addressing this difficult, but critically important issue.”
“Public financing of elections levels the playing field and makes the electoral process more accessible to everyone,” said Deputy Presiding Officer Rob Calarco. “I thank my colleagues for approving this legislation because it provides us an opportunity to limit the amount of money in our politics and rewards candidates who get support for their constituents. At the end of the day, this increased competition in our elections gives voters real choices based on real issues.”
For those candidates who opt-in, the program tightens the contribution limits and matches donations 4-to-1 on individual contributions of $250 or less. The candidate may only use public funds on their own race, and any unused public funds must be returned to the County. Candidates who opt-in must be running against a certified opponent. The resolution, which mirrors public election funding programs that have been successfully implemented around the country, particularly New York City, strives to increase the voice of small donors and individual voters, while increasing the ability of grassroots candidates to compete. The bill passed the Ways & Means Committee on Thursday, December 14th and was sent to the full Legislature for a vote, where it was upheld by a vote of 11 to 7.