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Candidate Profile: Mike Domino for Southold Town Trustee

Former science teacher and past president of North Fork Environmental Council is running to keep his seat, to which he was appointed this year.

As predisential and congressional candidates highlight the headlines this election season with hot button items such as tax breaks, the national debt, costly spending measures and more, Southold resident and current Trustee Mike Domino believes spending issues ring true all the way down to the local Trustee race, and points to a lifetime of work in the environmental sciences as one way he can earn the trust of taxpayers while staying committed to Southold's waterways.

Domino, 68, was appointed earlier this year to fill a vacancy left by current Councilwoman and former Trustee Jill Doherty. He is a retired high school science teacher of 31 years, owner of a local antique shop and deli, and past president of the North Fork Environmental Council.

Running on the Republican, Conservative and Independence lines, Domino will be facing Democrat and local business owner Jeri Woodhouse, who recently touted her devotion to sustainable agriculture as one reason why she's seeking the seat. Woodhouse's business, A Taste of the North Fork – in the process of relocating to Southold – focuses on selling locally grown and made products.

Both will be running to complete Doherty's term.

But Domino says his scientific background makes him the right fit for the job.

"I respect my opponent, but she doesn't bring to the table the expertise I have in this area," Domino said Wednesday morning. "And especially in this day and age, you have to be careful about your money.

"If you want to keep the creeks open, clean and productive, you don't just barge in there and say you're going to solve the problem. You have to do research. Including DNA research to find out what the source of the problem is so that you can fix it as efficiently as possible with as few resources as possible. That's what my degree is in. So that's what I do. And that's what you need to do."

Domino, a former U.S. Marine who who holds a Bachelor's degree in biology and two Master's degrees – one in engineering and another in education – has been a Southold resident for the past 16 years after living in Shoreham during most of his tenure as a Rocky Point High School teacher.

The engineer in Domino comes out occasionally, drawing several diagrams during Wednesday's interview to illustrate various points. 

"I'm the kind of guy who doesn't randomly mow his lawn," he half-joked. "What's the optimum way to do this?"

Looking back at what drew him to the outdoors, and the North Fork in general, the Middle Island native pointed to a building job he had as a teen that brought him out to the North Fork.

"From there, it was a natural progression," he said.

Domino served as a Boy Scout, recalls reading "Outdoor Life" and "Field and Stream" as a youth, and as a young teacher, served on the RPHS advisory committee when the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant was being built, advising the superintendent not to sign off on the project due to evacuation concerns.

"That was when I realized that you have to be a part of the process to have any impact," he said.

During his short tenure as Trustee, Domino said he's gained a greater respect for the responsibilities that come along with the position, as well as his peers on the board – all of whom are fellow Republicans. He points out though that with one Trustee absent from a recent meeting, the board split on its last vote of the meeting, so while all five men represent the same party, views do still differ.

Domino said the largest issue facing the Trustees is the town's efforts to curb stormwater management.

"It's not difficult to engineer a solution. The town needs to devote resources to the highway department," Domino said. "The problem again is this economy. You’ve got to prioritize. So it’s definitely something that we are devoting our energy to and it won’t be an overnight fix. But it’s solvable. We just can’t lose sight of the goal and get tired and give up. We gotta plug away."

Correction: The article originally stated that Domino was only running on the Republican line. We regret the oversight.

Matt Salinski October 18, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Will Mr. Dimino be taking the appox. $ 30,000 in benefits. After all it is a volunteer part time public office
Tom October 18, 2012 at 06:52 PM
1- It is not a volunteer position. The position pays $15,484 per year. 2- Mike Domino is -not- taking the benefits, as he already has benefits from his 31 years of teaching at Rocky Point High School. He has no need for the benefits that Southold has to offer. I wonder if Ms. Woodhouse will be taking the benefits? Can we get an answer to this question please?
joe insider October 19, 2012 at 08:39 AM
The mantra we hear over and over from environmental activists is that the pressing need is for "science based" decision making. Well we can choose between a scientist (Mr. Domino) or a lady who takes whatever paid position her party happens to be handing out and runs for any elected office that happens to come along. It would seem clear that the overwhelming favorite here should be Mr. Domino. How about it environmentalists? Do you mean what you say?
Tom October 19, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Joe, I agree completely. Mike was actually the President of the North Fork Environmental Council, and has literally decades of using his education to advance our environment. Jeri, not so at all. In effect, the decision comes down to whether you want an experienced science guy as your trustee, or someone who makes jelly for a living. Vote accordingly.
Kristina Mirell September 09, 2013 at 10:48 PM
I had Mr Domino for 9th grade Earth Science. One of my favourite teachers! I always had my nose in a book and even tho he was a science teacher, he always had an interest in what I was reading.

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