Paul Pontieri now serves as Mayor of the very town he grew up in. A Patchogue resident for most of his life, he grew up in the house his mother still resides in, two blocks from where his office sits today.
The son of second generation Italian immigrants from Calabria, his grandfather built many of the sidewalks and curbing he walks on daily.
Prior to his present appointment, Pontieri held the position of vice principal of neighboring district’s Bellport Senior High School for many years as well as serving as Patchogue Village Trustee for eleven years. He also sits on the board of a variety of town organizations. Designated Mayor in 2004, he was reelected in 2008 the same year he was appointed a member of the Board of Trustees at Suffolk County Community College.
As a SCCC Trustee Pontieri feels the most challenging aspect of that position is regulating tuition. Declining contributions from the state and county combined with rising operating and personnel costs, especially pension costs and health insurance proves a difficult dilemma for the board. “This combination of limited revenue and increased costs has put us in a difficult situation. The Board is committed to holding down costs and controlling tuition,” says Pontieri.
Affordability for Suffolk residents to utilize the community college is a concern. However Pontieri also acknowledges that college may not be the sole answer for everyone. “Many students, when they graduate, may have skills that are more suitable for the trade’s i.e. Plumbers, electricians, landscapers, truck drivers. Find your love and passion and follow it,” states the Mayor. “Everyone has strength and it should be maximized, it does not always happen in College,” he adds.
Amongst his filled agenda are meetings and fundraising events where he hosts or speaks such as Patchogue Medford Community Youth Services where he is seated on the advisory board. “He is a huge advocate and supporter of the agency as well as assists us with village issues or projects,” states Shawn Hirst, Executive Director at PMCYS. He’s also part of the advisory committee for Suffolk Center for Holocaust, Diversity and Human Understanding at SCCC.
Mayor Pontieri has been honored by the L.I. Housing Partnership, Regional Plan Association and Vision Long Island for his accomplishments in revitalization of downtown Patchogue and the Villages commitment to affordable housing.
Community ranks high on Pontieri’s list, so it was with great sadness that his village was the center of a hate crime killing of an Ecuadorian immigrant in 2008. But three years later, still with a heavy heart, the people of Patchogue and beyond have progressed toward a more peaceful coexistence. “My job as Mayor was to bring the two communities together into one and it is happening,” expresses Pontieri.
Paul Pontieri will serve out his mayoral term in 2012.