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Aguiar Asks: Why Did the Supervisor Wait Two Years to Respond to the Town’s Overcrowding Problems?

In response to her opponent’s plan to address one of the most serious problems facing the town — that is, illegal overcrowding in homes — Riverhead Town Supervisor candidate Yvette Aguiar said that the current supervisor, Laura Jens-Smith, has not come up with a plan to resolve the situation for the past two years. Ms. Aguiar said the supervisor only came up with her own plan to address the issue after Ms. Aguiar issued her 10-point strategic plan on September 25.

“We need a supervisor who can lead us, not follow,” Ms. Aguiar said. “With Ms. Jens-Smith’s administration, there’s a clear pattern of delay, kicking the can down the road, and, on issues like illegal, overcrowded housing, just plain sticking her head in the sand and hoping the problem will solve itself. Neither are acceptable.”

On September 25, Ms. Aguiar sent out a 10-point plan to address illegal overcrowding in the community. That included creating a task force to help identify and prosecute quality-of-life violations; providing enhanced technology and intelligence gathering to document overcrowded homes; commencing legal action against landlords and homeowners who willfully enable excessive renters; and setting a fine of $5,000 for the first offense, and an increased fine for subsequent offenses thereafter.

“We need to crack down on these unethical landlords,” Ms. Aguiar said. “These people are living in unsafe and unsanitary conditions. This, in turn, has resulted in our schools being overcrowded, affecting the quality of our children’s education and their ability to learn.”

The next day, Ms. Jens-Smith appeared on a local radio station touting a plan that included having code enforcement go after slumlords. Not coincidentally, on her website, Ms. Jens-Smith pledged to “hold landlords accountable for unsafe, overcrowded housing, all of which are affecting our neighborhoods and impacting our quality of life.”

“I find it amazing that she based her own plan on what I proposed,” Ms. Aguiar said. “For two years, the supervisor has done nothing about this issue. She has not enacted one Supreme Court action against the violators, nor has she made a serious effort to hire more code enforcement officers. Now, with less than three weeks before Election Day, we finally hear from her announcing her own plan. Where has she been for the past two years while our schools were overburdened and our public resources were being drained?”

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