By Victoria Espinoza
A stark difference in opinion over the town’s management of funding is a key component of the race for Brookhaven Highway superintendent.
The incumbent, Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R), squared off against Democratic challenger, Jason Kontzamanys, at the Times Beacon Record headquarters, where they discussed finances in the highway department, use of subcontractors and why they deserve the job.
Kontzamanys has worked in the department of parks and recreation in Brookhaven for the past decade. He said it was that experience that helps shape his workers-first mentality, which he hoped to bring into office: “As I worked my way up, I realized the most brilliant ideas come from the workers doing the work day in and day out.”
Kontzamanys said he wants to consolidate the department as much as he can in order to save money and streamline government. One way to do that, he proposed, would be placing the Holtsville Ecology Site within the jurisdiction of the town’s parks department.
He also said he thinks he can bring changes to a “financially mismanaged” department, especially by cracking down on the usage of subcontractors.
“I do not want to rely on subcontractors,” he said. “I want to embolden the unionized work force and expand it as much as I can.”
He said subcontractors should not handle routine projects like lawn cutting, drainage and tree removal. Instead, he said he wants to do as much work as he can in-house within a 40-hour week.
“To deal with them on a continual basis, as far as I’m concerned is a violation of public trust when it comes to tax payers money,” the challenger said.
In terms of hiring fewer subcontractors, Losquadro said he believes there is no way around it, as Brookhaven’s scope is so large that the town needs more hands to handle the amount of work it accrues.
“With 3,350 lane miles of road to maintain and 200 employees, there is no way we could get all the work done without supplementing and augmenting some of that work to subcontractors,” Losquadro said.
With another term, Losquadro said he wants to continue to reform and update the department. He said he has already modernized the department a great deal and improved communication.
“There were no radio communications that were reliable [when I came into office],” Losquadro said. “I designed and installed a new radio communication system which is the same technology that the police and fire service use.”
Losquadro said the new system is reliable and gives the department coverage in parts of Long Island with serious topographical challenges.
He also mentioned major storms over the past year in which the department was able to dispatch and respond to public safety concerns in real time.
Another improvement Losquadro said he has brought to the department is with the work order system. He referred to the old system as “archaic,” in which a routine work order took weeks of mailing to different departments.
The town already uses this system for severe weather events like snowstorms, but Losquadro said he was still in the process of rolling out a fully electronic work order system.
Kontzamanys said many of the updates that Losquadro has brought to the department have already been in effect at the parks department for years and he would like to see more updates on his watch.
“I would try to embrace solar projects through federal grants, including solar bike paths and solar sidewalks,” Kontzamanys said. He also said he would then sell the energy back to utility company PSEG Long Island for a profit.