There’s a lot of fire in the race for Huntington Town Board this year: You could see unfriendly sparks flying between incumbents Susan Berland (D), of Dix Hills, and Gene Cook (I), of Greenlawn, at a debate hosted by TBR Newspapers. Passion for public office is one thing these two have in common, and that’s where the similarities end.
But it’s that, coupled with their experience in the positions and unique political strengths that this paper endorses Berland and Cook for four-year terms on the board.
Say what you will about Berland, who is unpopular in Elwood for her controversial vote in favor of rezoning land to make way for The Seasons at Elwood — a huge condominium development geared toward the 55-and-up community — but the councilwoman works hard; it is her full-time job. She has also worked to sponsor legislation that’s made a difference, including laws that help put an end to blight and legislation to regulate the invasive bamboo, which can frequently be a nuisance to neighbors.
Cook’s greatest strength lies in being the sole minority party member on the board, and his willingness to speak up when something fishy is going on, whether he’s right or wrong. The Democratic-majority board members fall in line on mostly all votes, and Cook is often the one to keep Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) on his toes. Dissension is important: It encourages compromise and analysis, and prevents elected officials from slipping controversial measures past residents.
This wasn’t an easy choice. Democrat Keith Barrett, of Huntington Station, is a fine candidate. He has good ideas and has already reduced expenses and reorganized services as head of the town’s general services department. With a few more years under his belt, he’d be ready to take another stab at Town Board.
While Republican Jennifer Thompson possesses great communication skills and the right attitude, she would be stronger in her current role on the Northport-East Northport school board.
Vote for Cook and Berland on Tuesday.