As the Village Administrator of Fire Island, erosion prevention is just a part of everyday life for Steve Brautigam.
“People there are living on a sandbar,” he said of the narrow strip of a beach community 45 miles to the west of Mattituck. “If the ocean breaches, they’re done over there.”
With over two decades of experience in municipal government, Laurel resident Brautigam is running for Southold Town Trustee on the . He has worked over the years in Greenport as overseer of the finances of the buildings at k, handling over $10 million in grants. He also maintained the financial records for the Brownfield site grant, which was used to clean up the pollutants in Mitchell Park. Brautigam has years of experience interpreting SEQRA (state environmental) reviews for municipal projects and has organized $2 million in grants for storm water runoff prevention for Southampton Town.
Brautigam, 58, said he thinks that some of what he’s learned working with the shoreline on Fire Island can be applied to Southold Town — especially with badly eroded zones in town such as in Mattituck and in Southold.
“We create engineered beaches — they're a product of FEMA,” he said. “We focus on the behavior of beaches and on the continuation of the land where it meets the water.”
Brautigam said he also believes that a Town Trustee’s job should be about interpreting the town’s waterfront rules, following the town’s local waterfront revitalization program, and carrying out established policy and procedures — not creating those rules. Working diplomatically with the Federal Emergency Management Administration, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Army Corps of Engineers, and other state and federal agencies is key to shoreline management.
“I’m in touch with them on a regular basis,” he said. “You have to embrace the tools that those agencies can give you.”
Though he grew up in East Williston, Brautigam has family ties to the North Fork that go back 100 years. His oldest son graduated from Mattituck High School and he has another in 11th grade in the school system.
Brautigam recently switched parties from Republican to Democrat due to the support that Democratic party members showed him this year. A 2009 drunk driving arrest in Mattituck did not deter the party from nominating Brautigam.
“It was a mistake on my part and thank god no one was hurt,” he said. “I was punished to the full extent of the law. My family and I have paid dearly for this and I have learned my lesson and it will never happen again.”
If elected, Brautigam said he also hopes to streamline and clarify the role of the trustee in local government — not cloud the issue — for the public. He believes a 22-year career behind-the-scenes in municipal government will help.
“I’ve never been on a board in my 22-year career,” he said. “But I know how to move within government entities, and I’d be very valuable for the Town."