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Election

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Suffolk County Executive
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, a Democrat, was running for re-election against Republican challenger Jim O’Connor. With 1,047 of 1,052 election districts reporting, Bellone was leading 57 percent to 43 percent.

4th Legislative District
Legislator Tom Muratore, a Republican, was looking for a fourth term against absentee Democratic challenger Jonathan D. Rockfeld. With all election districts reporting, Muratore had 74 percent of the vote.

5th Legislative District
Kara Hahn, the Democratic incumbent, was facing off against Republican challenger Donna Cumella. With 53 of 54 election districts reporting, Hahn had 63 percent of the vote to Cumella’s 37 percent.

6th Legislative District
Legislator Sarah Anker (D) faces a challenge from Republican Steve Tricarico, a Brookhaven Town deputy highway superintendent, in her quest for a third term. With all election districts reporting, Anker had 49.99 percent of the vote to Tricarico’s 49.98 percent. They are just one vote apart. Anker described her feelings as “cautiously optimistic.”

12th Legislative District
Leslie Kennedy, a Republican, was largely unopposed for re-election, against absentee Democratic challenger Adam Halpern. With 62 of 63 election districts reporting, Kennedy had 70 percent of the vote.

13th Legislative District
Legislator Rob Trotta (R) was running for another term in the Legislature against a familiar face, Kings Park Democrat Rich Macellaro. With 64 of 65 election districts reporting, Trotta had 71 percent of the vote.

16th Legislative District
Steve Stern, a Democratic legislator, wanted to win his final term in office against Republican attorney Tom McNally. With all election districts reporting, Stern won with 60 percent of the vote to McNally’s 40 percent.

18th Legislative District
Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D) was vying for a third term against Republican challenger Grant Lally. With all election districts reporting, Spencer won with 56 percent of the vote to Lally’s 44 percent.

Brookhaven Town Supervisor
Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) was running for re-election against Democratic challenger Douglas Dittko. With 294 of 296 election districts reporting, Romaine had 72 percent of the vote.

Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent
Dan Losquadro, the Republican incumbent, was in a race for another term against Democratic challenger Jason Kontzamanys. With 294 of 296 election districts reporting, Losquadro had 69 percent of the vote.

Brookhaven Town, 1st Council District
Councilwoman Valerie Cartright, a Democrat from Port Jefferson Station, was facing off against Port Jefferson Station civic leader Ed Garboski, a Republican, in the race for town board.
With all election districts reporting, Cartright won with 56 percent of the vote.
She said, “I worked really hard. The community came together.”
If all election results stand, Cartright will be the only Democrat on the town board next year — her one Conservative and four Republican colleagues won re-election and her only Democratic colleague was ousted by a Republican.

Brookhaven Town, 2nd Council District
Jane Bonner, the Conservative councilwoman, was running against an absentee challenger, Democrat Andrew Berger, in her quest for a fifth term on the town board. With 46 of 47 election districts reporting, Bonner had 69 percent of the vote.

Brookhaven Town, 3rd Council District
Kevin LaValle (R) was hoping to win another term as a town councilman against absentee Democratic challenger Christian DeGeorge. With 50 of 51 election districts reporting, LaValle had 74 percent of the vote.

Huntington Town Board
Incumbents Susan Berland (D) and Gene Cook (I) were running for new terms on the town board against Democratic challenger Keith Barrett, the town’s deputy director of general services, and Republican challenger Jennifer Thompson, a Northport school board trustee. In this race, the two candidates with the highest vote counts win seats. With all election districts reporting, Cook was on top with 27 percent of the vote to Berland’s 24 percent, Barrett’s 22 percent and Thompson’s 22 percent. Conservative Michael Helfer had 5 percent of the vote.
Cook said, “I can’t wait till tomorrow. … I felt good throughout today because I’m always honest and I think I’ve shown that in the last four years.”

Smithtown Town Board
Councilmen Bob Creighton and Ed Wehrheim, both Republicans, faced challenges from Republican Lisa Inzerillo, who beat out Creighton in a Republican primary in September, and Democrat Larry Vetter. The two candidates with the most votes win seats on the town board in this race. With all 92 election districts reporting, Wehrheim took the lead with 31 percent of the vote, followed by Inzerillo (28 percent), Vetter (22 percent) and Creighton (20 percent).
Wehrheim, who frequently works with Creighton on town projects, called Inzerillo’s win “a loss for Smithtown” and called his own victory “bittersweet” as he prepared to work with the newcomer.
Vetter said, “The message is clear: The town didn’t want me. … Apparently the town is satisfied with what they have.” Earlier in the night he had said, “If I lose and it’s tight, I might try again. If I get clobbered, I’m not gonna do it again.”

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Smithtown Town Hall. File photo by Rachel Shapiro

Smithtown Town Board candidates vying for a Republican spot on the ballot in November learned their fate on Tuesday as the Suffolk County Board of Elections tallied up the remaining absentee ballots, but there were no surprises.

As reported last week, Councilman Bob Creighton (R) came in third place out of three candidates seeking the Republican line in November’s general election, while the other two, incumbent Councilman Ed Wehrheim (R) and challenger Lisa Inzerillo came in first and second, respectively. Those results stood by Tuesday evening, but perhaps in a more disappointing fashion, as Creighton’s 1,306 vote tallies came in just 82 votes behind Inzerillo’s 1,388, the county Board of Elections said. Wehrheim led the pack with 1,830 votes.

In the initial aftermath of the primary vote earlier this month, Wehrheim had collected 40.49 percent of the vote — 1,673 total votes — and Inzerillo earned 31.27 percent, or 1,292 total votes. Creighton, who has served on the Town Board since 2008, came in close behind Inzerillo with 27.81 percent — 1,149 votes. In an interview after the primary election and before the absentee ballots had been counted, Creighton told Times Beacon Record Newspapers that he did not expect absentee votes to push him over the edge.

“There are still some … absentee ballots to count, but I have no illusions about that,” Creighton said in a previous interview. “I lost, period.”

Inzerillo and Wehrheim will appear on November’s ballot as Republicans, and Creighton will still run for re-election, but on the Conservative, Independent and Reform party lines.

Both Creighton’s and Wehrheim’s seats on the board will be up for a vote come November, with the incumbents facing off against Inzerillo and Democrat Larry Vetter, who announced his candidacy earlier this year. The winners will join incumbents not up for re-election, Supervisor Pat Vecchio, Councilman Tom McCarthy and Councilwoman Lynne Nowick — all Republicans.

Gene Cook. File photo by Rohma Abbas

Councilman Gene Cook (I) said he has his eyes on the money — the money of Huntington Town and its taxpayers, that is.

“Huntington doesn’t manage its money properly,” the councilman said, in a sit-down interview at his Greenlawn home. “Coming from the business world, we need good business people in [Town Hall] to manage it correctly.” He believes the amount of money the town has borrowed in long-term bonds is “ridiculous.” Cook said he very rarely votes for bonding.

Cook is seeking re-election for a second term on the town board in November. He’s running with Republican-backed Jennifer Thompson, and he’s running against incumbent Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) and contender Keith Barrett.

Cook said he believes the town’s money needs to be spent more wisely. He said he would like to see a forensic audit of the entire town government. When he first entered office, he said, he pushed for such an audit by the state comptroller’s office.

“I’m all about where our money is being spent. When I looked at the books, I was not happy with the way I saw things being done. So I put up legislation to get the state comptroller to come in and audit. I was hoping they would audit all the books.”

The state comptroller’s office only ended up auditing two departments — outside legal services and overtime — and in both, issues were unearthed. Since then, those issues have been addressed.

Cook emerged from his garage to start the interview, where he had been tinkering with his favorite hobby, his cars. He resides at his Arbutus Road home with his wife Lisa. They have five children: Danielle, Nicole, Monica, Brendan and Olivia.

Owner of Cook Industries Inc., a construction company, which was established in 1986, the councilman has learned how to run a fiscally sound business and tries to bring those ideals to the town board as much as possible.

“A lot of business work is right now, it has to get done immediately,” Cook said. He runs his office the same way. “We have to get an answer back to a constituent within 24 hours. I made that a mandate in my office. Good, bad or ugly, even if it’s something the constituent doesn’t want to hear, we have to do that.”

Toni Tepe, chairwoman of the Huntington Republican Committee said Cook is devoted to doing what’s right for the public.

“Gene has shown the public that his interest is doing what is right for them,” Tepe said. “He works for the taxpayers.”

Moving onto other matters facing Huntington Town, Cook spoke about crime in Huntington Station. While Cook said the police force is stretched, he feels there are other ways to beef up security that don’t involve hiring more police.

Cook said he has no problem with development projects requesting changes of zone, like Benchmark Senior Living, a proposed assisted living facility in Huntington, and The Seasons at Elwood, as long as they are handled responsibly and in a smart business fashion. “Lets do proper, smart, development that makes everybody happy.”

But he does not believe that was the case with The Seasons, which is why he voted against it. Cook’s was the sole vote against the 55-and-up condominium project.

“Because of my business background in construction and roadwork, I knew Elwood Road was a problem. It was said [The Seasons] was not going to change the difference of traffic on that road. That’s nonsense. We need people on the board that say wait a minute, lets take a good look at this and see what’s really needed there and what the community wants,” Cook said. “I was the only vote with the people of Elwood.”

He said he felt the same community resistance against Benchmark as well.

“People were there crying to me, saying they don’t want this. We’re supposed to take care of the residents of the town, not developers that come in with big pockets,” he said.

Cook described being the minority on the board as “brutal.” He thinks having Thompson on the town board “would really benefit the people.” Cook hopes to one day have a third member on the board, creating a majority voting bloc.

Bow hunting  of deer in Eaton’s Neck has been a pressing issue for the residents of Eaton’s Neck and Asharoken, and Cook has changed his stance of opposing the measure since the town board public hearing last month on this issue.

“What I like about town board meetings is that you do hear other sides,” he said. “I was unaware of the Lyme disease issue and the tick issue, it was the first time I had heard of that. I may vote for it if it comes up.”

If re-elected, Cook, like his running mate Thompson, hopes to push term limits right away. He said he supports a two-term limit for council members.

“I believe we need term limits,” he said. “For me, what I’ve seen is, the first term you’re learning, second term you’re doing, third term you’re abusing the power. I think we as people need to keep it moving.”

Susan Berland is seeking reelection to the Huntington Town Board. Photo by Rohma Abbas

Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) has made the Huntington Town Council her full time job since her inaugural election in 2001. She pledged, when she was first running for election, that she would stop practicing law and dedicate all her time to the board.

“I think the job really deserves that,” she said. “I’m the one who’s in the office, 95 percent of the time, when people come into the office to see a councilmember; I’m the one they get. I do a lot more events than anyone else does because I can and because I want to.”

On Monday, Berland sat down for an interview, at Book Revue in Huntington, to discuss her past achievements on the Huntington Town Board, and her campaign for re-election this November. She had just returned from a weekend away, helping her youngest son move into Yale University for his freshman year. Berland and her husband, Sandy Berland, live in Dix Hills and have four children: Stephanie, Alex, Schuyler and Grant.

“She is a person of action,” John Cooney, commander of Northport American Legion Post 694, said in a phone interview. “Susan has worked tirelessly on behalf of veterans in the community. We hold many different events, and in my 16 years, I have never seen Susan absent from one. I’m proud of what she’s done for this community; she follows through and listens.”

Berland was first elected to replace U.S. Rep. Steve Israel’s (D-Huntington) seat, when he won his seat in the House of Representatives in 2001. She previously worked on Israel’s Town Board campaign, and once he was re-elected, he asked her to work in the town attorney’s office to prosecute code violations.

When she first got into office, Berland moved to make government more transparent.

She said her first piece of legislation the board approved made parts of the town’s government more accessible. The Fair, Open and Accountable Government Act requires the zoning and planning boards to have their meetings in a public hearing room — the town board room at Huntington Town Hall. According to Berland, before she came into office that was not the case.

“I fought for 10 years to get the town’s television channel because I wanted town board meetings to be televised,” she said. “I’m really an advocate of open and accessible government.”

She thinks people need to have access to these meetings.

“If people have the opportunity to watch town board meetings in the comfort of their own homes, they’ll be more inclined to watch it.”

Huntington Town has its share of blighted homes — another issue Berland’s addressed with legislation.

“We don’t have rows and rows of houses that are blighted, we have one on each street,” she said. “They come as a patchwork, but it affects the street it’s on tremendously, and I think that’s important to people.”

In order to fight the blighted houses, Berland’s legislation created a new system that assesses if a house should be put on a townwide blight registry. If the property is added to the list, the owners are hit with a fine from the town and are allotted a certain amount of time to fix the problems with their property. If the owner doesn’t do so before the allotted deadline, the town pays for the cleanup of the property, and the money it costs the town to right all the problems is then added to that property owner’s tax bill.

When speaking to crime in Huntington Station, Berland said, “It’s always good to have cops on the beat.”

“The more they’re in the community and get to know the community, the better it is. For a lot of people, if you know the officer and have a relationship with the officer, I think you’re less likely to do something you shouldn’t do.”

Berland believes that large-scale projects that require a zone change, like The Seasons at Elwood, a 256-unit 55-and-older condo home community, and Benchmark Senior Living, a proposed 69-unit assisted living facility, are not issues of overdevelopment.

“I voted in favor of the Seasons,” she said. “Anytime we can create senior housing, where our seniors stay here and aren’t leaving, I think that’s a benefit. But you have to watch the density numbers.”

She originally voted no to Avalon Huntington Station, because of the number of units they wanted to fit in per acre. When Avalon compromised months later and reduced the number of units, Berland voted yes.

Berland has also been involved in legislation that benefits the youth of Huntington Town. According to Berland, the Huntington Youth Council, which is comprised of students from each of the town’s school districts, meet to discuss issues that affect students today.

When asked about her opponent’s support of term limits, as Berland is seeking her fifth term in office, she said, “the best manifestation of term limits is elections.”

File photo by Rohma Abbas

Working Families Party voters of Huntington Town will get the chance to choose between five town board candidates in a primary election on Sept. 10.

Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) and candidate Keith Barrett are the two candidates backed by the Working Families party. Charles Marino, Richard Hall and Valerie Stringfellow are also running in the primary.

“The Working Families Party endorsed Keith Barrett and Councilwoman Susan Berland because they’ve demonstrated they share our values and support our key legislative issues like raising the minimum wage and passing paid family leave,” Emily Abbott, the WFP Long Island political director, said in an email. “We have no doubt they will be the best voice for Huntington’s working families.”

Since submitting their names to the Suffolk County Board of Elections, Hall and Stringfellow have both decided not to actively campaign. While their names will still technically be on the ballot, they said they have put their support behind Marino and Barrett, who they believe best support minorities in Huntington Town.

Marino said he is running to bring an end to the corrupt political system in Huntington. “As a registered Working Families Party member who believes in putting workers first, not in lining one’s pockets, I am challenging Ms. Berland in the primary,” Marino said in a statement. Attempts to reach Marino were unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, Barrett and Berland said they’re the best picks for the WFP line.

“I come from a working family,” Barrett said. “I’m a union guy, a blue-collar worker. I’ve always been in the working guys shoes.”

Barrett is a Huntington native. He went to Walt Whitman High School,and started his own business, Barrett Automotives, in 1997 in Huntington Station. He is currently the town’s deputy director of general services.

Berland, an incumbent who is seeking a fifth term, said she is the only town board member who has been a member of a union during high school and college.

“I’ve passed legislation that helps our town workers,” she said. “I’m very pro-workers and I’m very pro-military. I am a staunch labor and working families supporter.”

The Incorporated Village of Poquott. File photo

The Incorporated Village of Poquott voted in three new trustees and a write-in village justice candidate in Tuesday’s election, the village clerk confirmed Thursday.

In the trustee race for two seats carrying two-year terms, Harold Berry and Jeffrey Koppelson were elected with 105 votes and 131 votes, respectively, beating out Gary Garofano, the third candidate vying for one of the spots.

Another trustee position, but carrying a one-year term, went to Sandra Nicoletti, who received 113 votes over Karen Sartain, who garnered 69 votes, the village clerk said Thursday.

Poquott also elected a new village justice on Tuesday with a write-in candidate, the clerk said. The village did not have any names on the ballot for the position, so the spot went to Paul Edelson, who received 96 votes, over Alexander Melbartis — another write-in — who received 87 votes.

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School board Trustee Mark Doyle has launched a write-in campaign for re-election in Port Jefferson, two weeks after a deadline passed without enough residents filing to run for the board.

School board Trustee Mark Doyle rides atop a convertible during the Port Jefferson homecoming parade this past October. File photo by Bill Landon
School board Trustee Mark Doyle rides atop a convertible during the Port Jefferson homecoming parade this past October. File photo by Bill Landon

There are three seats up for election on May 19: Doyle’s and those of Trustee Vincent Ruggiero and Vice President Jim Laffey. Those who were interested in seats on the board of education had to turn in paperwork to run by April 20, but that day came and went with only Ruggiero handing in a petition.

District Clerk Janice Baisley said the district would rely on write-in candidates to fill the open seats for three-year terms.

Doyle, who works for the American Physical Society, a nonprofit organization working to better the understanding of physics, previously said he was not running for re-election because of a new job that required more responsibility and traveling, making him unsure if he could fully commit to being a school board trustee. But the six-year incumbent said Monday that he reflected further on the matter and has had time to adjust to his new professional role.

“I now believe that I will be able to serve effectively on the board despite my other commitments,” he said in an email.

He said his change of heart came after seeing others had not stepped up to serve, and that his original decision not to run had been a difficult one.

“I feel there is still much to be done to keep the district on a sound fiscal path while pursuing the goal of outstanding student achievement,” Doyle wrote.

He added that the community needs “experienced and knowledgeable board members” because it is contending with “turmoil caused by the actions of [Gov. Andrew] Cuomo and the state education department.”

Doyle, who has lived in the district for 18 years, plans to use word-of-mouth and signs to raise awareness of his campaign for the board.

Baisley said there will be instructions in the voting booths on the day of the election to guide community members through voting for candidates who are not on the ballot. Pens will be provided for the write-in votes.

Doyle said in his email Monday, “My goal has always been that Port Jefferson should continue to be a community that families favor for raising and educating their children.”

Xavier Palacios file photo by Rohma Abbas

The race for the Huntington school board this year will be cut-and-dry, as four individuals are running uncontested for four open seats on the school board.

Board President Emily Rogan and board members Xavier Palacios and Tom DiGiacomo are seeking re-election to new three-year terms on the board, as is newcomer Christine Biernacki, a Halesite resident and president of the district’s PTA Council.

The four seats include those held by Rogan, Palacios and DiGiacomo, but also former Vice President Adam Spector, who died after losing a battle with cancer last summer.

In interviews this week, candidates sounded off about what they’ve accomplished and what they feel they could bring to the board in the next three years.

Xavier Palacios
Palacios, an attorney with an office in Huntington Station, wears many hats. He has leadership roles in various groups like Huntington Matters, an anti-crime Huntington Station group, and the Friends of Huntington Station Latin Quarter. He is running for a second, three-year term.

Palacios wants to see the district continue parental engagement program efforts — something that was funded this year by a federal grant. The district’s been able to engage parents in their children’s education through the program’s efforts. He also wants to see the district continue to cut costs in innovative ways, such as building partnerships with other school districts and agencies.

Emily Rogan is running unopposed for a seat on the Huntington school board. Photo from the candidate
Emily Rogan is running unopposed for a seat on the Huntington school board. Photo from the candidate

“I’d like to see us be able to find more efficiencies in how we run the buildings themselves,” he said. Palacios also spoke of the reopening of the Jack Abrams building and reinstating full-day kindergarten as big accomplishments.

Emily Rogan
Rogan, who is finishing her third term on the board, said she’s running again because she wants to keep the district moving in the right direction. She said she and her colleagues have made decisions in the interest of student success — she shouted out a few, like reinstating full-day kindergarten last year and reopening the Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School. There’s still work to be done, like improving the district’s food program, but overall, Rogan said the board is doing “real work,” and she wants to continue to be a part of that.

“We have been getting such terrific work done and I feel so good about the direction our district is heading,” she said. “For many, many years I did not feel like that. I kind of felt like I was banging my head against the wall.”

Christine Biernack is running unopposed for a seat on the Huntington school board. Photo from the candidate
Christine Biernack is running unopposed for a seat on the Huntington school board. Photo from the candidate

A large part of Huntington’s success has to do with its leader, Superintendent Jim Polanksy, who Rogan spoke highly of. She also spoke strongly about Huntington, noting she was raised and educated in the district.

Christine Biernacki
A newcomer, Biernacki said she’s excited to join the board and continue to help a group of people she feels is already doing the right things.
Biernacki is president of the district’s PTA Council. In that role, she has her finger on the pulse of what’s happening at all the schools in the district.

She is also a parent member in the district’s special education committee. A mother to a special needs child, Biernacki said she feels she would bring a unique perspective to the board on special needs issues.
“We have a wonderful special education program, but there are some areas that, for example, it was discussed at the last board meeting, adding some more student support, like a psychologist or social worker,” she said. “There’s such a need for that, not even in special education but across the whole range of students at our district.”

Helping special needs students isn’t the only thing Biernacki is passionate about. She also doesn’t want to see class sizes increase.

Tom DiGiacomo is running unopposed for a seat on the Huntington school board. File photo
Tom DiGiacomo is running unopposed for a seat on the Huntington school board. File photo

Biernacki is an attorney who works from home.

Tom DiGiacomo
DiGiacomo grew up in Huntington Station and has roots in the district that go back three generations. He’s running for a second, three-year term on the board.

The incumbent is the director of technology sales for at Complete Packaging and Shipping Supplies.

Recently, DiGiacomo voted in favor of adding two new soccer teams to J. Taylor Finley Intermediate School. He’s also expressed interest in the district exploring solar energy alternatives.

His experience includes project and budget management, finance and implementing technology solutions, according to his district bio.

He didn’t return calls seeking comment this week.

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