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Tracey Edwards

Darryl St. George at a RAP Week press conference earlier this month. File photo by Victoria Espinoza

Huntington Democrats are looking to heal a party rift by working together to push towards securing the town supervisor seat up for grabs this November.

Centerport resident Darryl St. George has put out a call for his followers to support Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) in her campaign for Huntington Town Supervisor. Edwards beat St. George in the Sept. 12 primary, 3,482 votes to 1,664 votes, to win the Democrat line in the general election.

The political hopeful said he was initially disappointed by his loss but with time to reflect has put it in perspective.

“It was the first primary for a Democratic town supervisor and 1,600 people came out to vote for us,” St. George said. “It was still a loss, but it was a win in that sense. We got that many people to come out and be involved in the process.”

Huntington Town Councilwoman Tracey Edwards. File photo by Rohma Abbas

St. George said he has sat down with Edwards to talk over the key issues that came up in the primaries and their campaign platforms. They were able to find some common ground, according to the challenger, who said they were in agreement on the need for term limits for elected officials, campaign finance reform, a comprehensive review of the town’s master plan with environmental considerations, and aggressively attacking the problem of heroin/opiate addiction.

“I am able to go back to my supporters and say, ‘This is the candidate we need to get behind,’” St. George said. “In my view, I will do everything I can to help her win as I believe she is the best person for the job in this race right now.”

Edwards will face competition from the Republican candidate, current State Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci, Nov. 7.

Both Democrats agreed that the voter turnout for the Sept. 12 primary was disappointing. There were only 5,000 registered Democrats who cast their ballot for town supervisor candidate out of the more than 50,000 party members registered to vote in the Town of Huntington.

“A long-term project for me as a veteran and a history teacher is to do everything I can to get more people involved in the political process,” St. George said. “We can’t continue to accept low voter turnout as a reality.”

“In my view, I will do everything I can to help [Tracey Edwards] win as I believe she is the best person for the job in this race right now.”

— Darryl St. George

The Northport High School teacher said he hopes to hold a meeting with young leaders sometime in October to discuss what role they play in the politics, how they can get more involved and have a voice in local issues.

His strong belief that active participation is key to the democratic process is part of what inspired St. George to get involved in politics. He first contemplated running for a seat on Huntington town board in 2015, before declaring in February 2017 he would be launching a campaign for town supervisor — months before Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) announced he would not be seeking re-election.

St. George’s decision spurred what will be remembered, at least by many voters, as the first Democratic primary for Huntington Town Supervisor.

“I have a profound sense of gratitude for all the people that came out and participated in this historic event in the town, which includes Tracey’s supporters,” the political hopeful said. “But a special thank you to my supporters, I’ve come to see them as an extended family.”

While St. George said he did not have any specific plans for the future, residents may still see and hear his name.

“I’m not going anywhere. I will continue to stay involved and do what I can to fight for what I believe in,” he said.

Deer hunting via long bow has been a controversial topic in Huntington Town since first permitted in September 2015. Stock photo

Huntington Town Hall was as tense as a drawn bowstring as residents agreed to disagree on bow hunting as a means to address deer overpopulation.

The Town Board held its public hearing Sept. 19 on proposed changes to rules regulating the use of longbows for hunting.

The proposed changes, sponsored by Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D), take aim at further restricting the use of a long bow under the town’s firearm regulations, not directly regulating deer hunting, which falls under the oversight of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

One major change would expand the definition of what is considered a dwelling to include farm buildings, school buildings, school playgrounds, public structures,  occupied factories or churches, as hunters would be prohibited from firing an arrow within 150-feet of these structures.

Diana Cherryholmes, an Eaton’s Neck resident of 15 years, said she has concerns about the potential of hunters accidentally shooting a resident, their children or pets.

“I’m very uncomfortable during deer hunting season taking a walk…”

— Diana Cherryholmes

“Currently, I’m very uncomfortable during deer hunting season taking a walk, riding my bike and I’m scared for the kids playing outside,” Cherryholmes said.

Her concerns were echoed by  Eaton’s Neck residents Charlotte Koons and Christine Ballow. Town officials first voted to permit bow hunting in September 2015 to see if it would help address issues of deer overpopulation in the shoreline communities. The proposed changes are in response to safety concerns raised by community residents about unknown persons traveling through properties and arrows being fired in close proximity to houses and people.

“I think this is a trial that didn’t work,” Ballow said. “I think the 150-foot setback is hard to comply with given the density that we have. [The] density is not right for this type of hunting in this type of situation.”

Doug Whitcomb, speaking on behalf of Eaton Harbors Corporation civic group, said hunters realize there are additional efforts that must be made in a small community  where they must interact with neighbors who don’t agree with the sport.

“We are challenged by it as well,” Whitcomb said. “We similarly feel compromised when we have people around us when we’ve been in the woods since 5 a.m. trying to do a service to the community.”

Mike Lewis, a volunteer for NYSDEC who has taught hunter education classes since 2006, told town officials the five-year average for hunting-related accidental shooting incidents in New York is 20 to 25 people a year — a total for hunters using firearms, shotguns, pistols and bows.

“The majority of these incidents are two-party accidents where two or more people are hunting in close proximity and someone makes a mistake,” Lewis said.

He said there has only been one reported accident which involved an accidental shooting while long bow hunting, involving an elderly father and son pair. During that incident the father mistook his son for a deer and shot him in the leg, resulting in a minor injury.

“To understand our frustration and fears, understand we are taking part in an activity that’s as old as mankind itself.”

— John Marcinka

“If you put in your time and practice, you can tell a deer with antlers from a female with no antlers, or someone’s cat, dog or child,” Lewis said. “The last thing anyone wants to see is any innocent person get hurt.”

Several avid deer hunters spoke out to ask town officials to continue to permit bow hunting, despite the regulatory changes, believing they provide a valuable community service.

“Your arrow is like a surgical utensil as it pierces right through, and is the most humane way of taking out a deer,” said Joseph Wine, a hunter from Eaton’s Neck. “I think hunting is one of the best ways to control the deer. It’s free and it’s cheap.”

Huntington hunter John Marcinka requested additional clarification from the board on the proposed change that would require hunters to provide written notification to the town’s Department of Public Safety and local police departments prior to beginning a hunt.

“To understand our frustration and fears, understand we are taking part in an activity that’s as old as mankind itself,” Marcinka said. “When we’ve gone hunting on other people’s property in the past, we get permission from the farmer or landowner and it’s done with a handshake and nothing in writing.”

Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) directed Marcinka and other hunters to speak with the town attorney to work out specifics on how the written notice must be sent to property owners, how far in advance, and how frequently.

Town board members did not vote on the proposed changes Sept. 19. Their next town board meeting is not until Oct. 17, after the Oct. 1 start of the 2017 hunting season.

“I support amending the law as moving forward to a more permanent solution for relationships between people who don’t want deer hunting, like myself, and the hunters,” Cherryholmes said. “There must be a solution to help control the deer population and for the residents to have peace of mind.”

Former Huntington Councilwoman Tracey Edwards won the Democratic town supervisor primary. File photo by Kevin Redding

The risky decision by Huntington Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) to run for town supervisor rather than seek re-election to the town board has paid off so far following her primary night victory Sept. 12.

Edwards beat challenger and Centerport resident Darryl St. George (D), 3,482 votes to 1,664 votes, in the primary to become the Huntington Democratic Party candidate for town supervisor, based on the unofficial election results posted Sept. 13 by the Suffolk County Board of Elections.

Darryl St. George

Winning more than 60 percent of the overall vote, Edwards is already looking forward to the general election.

“I am ecstatic,” Edwards said. “You are always a little nervous, of course. But I was ecstatic to receive the confidence of the Democratic voters.”

The councilwoman said she had already reached out to St. George Wednesday morning to speak to him about working together in the runup to the November general election. 

“I would like to call on Darryl and his supporters to join forces,” Edwards said. “We must work together to advance our Democratic and Progressive goals. Division will not lead us to victory.” 

St. George could not be reached for comment.

Edwards was elected to the town board in 2014, after serving 10 years on the board of education in the Elwood school district. She previously served on the board of directors of the Long Island Association and worked for 37 years at Verizon, starting as an operator and climbing the ladder to regional president of network operations.

“My priority No. 1 is the safety and protection of families,” Edwards said. “What we want to put together and what we want to share is our bold platform which focuses on safety by tackling the gang problem and eliminating the opioid and heroin epidemic in our town.”

Tracey Edwards

Over the last three years, Edwards spearheaded the creation of Huntington Opportunity Resource Center, a program that offers assistance with job hunting and career training for unemployed and underemployed residents. She has also been an advocate for Huntington Station revitalization, a plan which includes construction of veterans housing, art space, stores, sidewalks and a parking garage, while also working to stamp out crime.

Edwards has more than $150,000 available in her war chest to spend in the lead up to the Nov. 7 election, according to the 11-day pre-primary financial disclosure report filed with New York State Board of Elections.

The Town of Huntington supervisor race is wide open as incumbent Supervisor Frank Petrone (D), 72, announced in April he would not be seeking re-election. He has served for nearly a quarter of a century, as he was first elected to the position in 1993.

Edwards is running on the Democratic, Independent, Working Families and Women’s Equality lines. She will face-off against Republican candidate, state Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci (R) and a Green Party candidate, pending the outcome of the Sept. 12 primary.

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Huntington Town Hall. File photo by Rohma Abbas

Two hopefuls will face off in the Sept. 15 primary to win the Democratic party line in the wide-open race for the Huntington Town supervisor seat. For many, it is the first Democratic primary for town supervisor they can vote in.

Incumbent Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone (D), 72, announced in April he would not be seeking re-election.. He has served for nearly a quarter of a century, as he was first elected to the position in 1993.

Town Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) will compete for votes against community leader Darryl St. George (D), of Centerport, to determine who will attempt to fill Petrone’s shoes.

Tracey Edwards

Edwards has made the decision to step forward and run for supervisor, rather than seek re-election to a second term as a town council member. If she does not win the Democratic primary, she may no longer serve Huntington as an elected official.

“I chose to run for town supervisor versus running for re-election,” Edwards said. “This is not about me. This is about what I believe is best for Huntington.”

Tracey Edward

Edwards was elected to the town board in 2014, after serving 10 years on the board of education in the Elwood school district. She previously served on the board of directors of the Long Island Association and worked for 37 years at Verizon, starting as an operator and climbing the ladder to regional president of network operations.

Over the last three years, Edwards spearheaded the creation of Huntington Opportunity Resource Center, a program that offers assistance with job hunting and career training for unemployed and underemployed residents. She has also been an advocate for Huntington Station revitalization, a plan which includes construction of veteran’s housing, art space, stores, sidewalks, and a parking garage while also working to stamp out crime.

“The biggest issue is public safety and safe neighborhoods,” Edwards said. “That is always No. 1.”

If elected supervisor, Edwards said her primary goal is to improve public safety, making more affordable housing for millenials and seniors, working with families to address ever growing opioid and heroin dependency, and expanding the town’s environmental initiatives.

“I think what [voters] have to do is really decide who has the business experience, the civic experience and governmental experience to make the changes necessary to take the town forward,” Edwards said. “We have work to do.”

Edwards will be attending Huntington Awareness Day, Sept. 9 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Stimson Middle School, located at 401 Oakwood Road in Huntington Station

Darryl  St. George

St. George was one of the first to announce he would seek election as town supervisor in February, prior to Petrone’s announcement he would not seek re-election. He said he previously contemplated running for town board in 2015.

“The political landscape from February till now has shifted dramatically, what has not shifted is my resolve,” St. George said.

St. George works as a Northport High School teacher, where he is the co-advisor of Northport High School branch of Students Against Destructive Decisions and the advisor of Project Vets, a club that works to improve the lives of veterans once they return home. He previously taught at St. Anthony’s High School in Huntington.

Darryl St. George

St. George is a U.S. Navy veteran who served a nine-month tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2011. Upon returning home, he served as the president of Greenlawn Civic Association for three years. In that role, St. George said he addressed public safety issues and opioid and heroin addiction.

“I was proud to be in that position,” St. George said. “I felt we were able to grow the civic association and get a lot of young people involved.”

If elected supervisor, St. George said he would focus on improving public safety by addressing in addition to opioid addiction, gang issues, protection of the environment and democratic reform to make town government more accessible for people to become involved.

“The real difference between the supervisor and the town board is a supervisor must be a leader,” he said. “A leader should have a vision and be able to communicate that vision clearly, build consensus on the town board and in the community so the vision can be translated into action. I have a track record of doing that as a teacher, as a veteran who served in the U.S. Navy,  as a civic leader and as an activist.”

St. George will be holding a fundraising event Sept. 9 at 6:45 p.m. at the Conklin Brush Barn, located at 2 High Street in Huntington.

Polls will be open for primaries Sept. 12 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Huntington Town residents are eligible to vote in the supervisor race if you are a registered Democrat,  at least 18 years old, have lived at your current address at least 30 days before the election, and have not been in prison or on parole for a felony conviction.

To double check if you are registered to vote, visit the state’s website at voterlookup.elections.state.ny.us/votersearch.aspx.

Deer hunting via long bow has been a controversial topic in Huntington Town since first permitted in September 2015. Stock photo

By Sara-Megan Walsh

Deer hunters may need to memorize a new set of regulations in the Town of Huntington before the start of the 2017 hunting season.

Huntington Town Board has scheduled a public hearing for its Sept. 19 meeting on a series of proposed changes affecting the use of longbows for deer hunting.

“Over the past few years we’ve learned some things that have gone on during deer hunting season and want to make it safer for our residents,” Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) said.

The proposed changes take aim at restricting the use of a longbow under the town’s firearms regulations, not directly regulating deer hunting which falls under the oversight of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Edwards, sponsor of the legislation, said the changes include requiring all hunters to provide written notification to the Town’s Department of Public Safety and the police department prior to hunting and expanding the definition of what’s considered a dwelling.

“If [hunters] are going to use the longbow we want to ensure that there’s written notification to the police department as we’ve had instances of people walking around the neighborhood, armed, and no one knows who they are,” Edwards said.

The proposed code changes will also expand the definition of a “dwelling”  to include “farm building or farm structures actually occupied or used, school building, school playground, public structure, or occupied factory or church” to prevent hunters from firing at deer within 150 feet of these buildings unless they are the property owner.

“Hunting is already regulated by the DEC so the town … is outside of their scope.”

— Michael Tessitore

If the proposed amendments are passed, anyone violating the regulations would face up to a $500 fine per day and prosecution by the town attorney’s office.

The  public hearing is set to take place mere days before the start of the 2017 deer hunting season, which runs from Oct. 1 to Jan. 31 under NYSDEC regulations. Town spokesman A.J. Carter said the town board will have the option to immediately enact the proposed code changes Sept. 19 if there are no substantial objections.

The board’s decision to permit bow hunting in September 2015 remains a contentious issue among local residents, particularly in the areas of Eatons Neck and Asharoken, which routinely deal with deer overpopulation.

“We’ve been having big issues with hunting with it since it began in Asharoken and Eatons Neck,” said Nadine Dumser, an Asharoken Village resident.

Dumser, who also owns property in Eatons Neck, said she has dealt with hunters who did not properly notify her as a homeowner they were active in the area but also entered her yard without permission.

“We would call police and complain about hunters being on our property,” she said. “When they finally do come, they are pretty powerless to do anything.”

Others believe that the Town’s efforts to further regulate longbow use oversteps its legal authority.

Michael Tessitore, founder of the nonprofit  Hunters for Deer, said the more than 85 hunters who are members of his organization will continue to follow the DEC regulations.

“Hunting is already regulated by the DEC so the town, by taking these extra steps to regulate hunting, is outside of their scope,” Tessitore said. “I believe they are going to open themselves up to litigation.”

Tessitore, who is a licensed nuisance wildlife control operator, said he helps manage more than 100 private properties including areas in Eatons Neck, Fort Salonga, and Smithtown to make agreements between hunters and homeowners who support hunting as a form a deer population management. He’s also worked with  Southampton Town to design a deer population management plan.

“I support deer hunting as a management tool,” Tessitore said. “It’s the only proven effective management tool for the overpopulation of deer.”

Councilman Gene Cook’s legislation to create term limits is on hold. File photo by Rohma Abbas

By Sara-Megan Walsh

A 3-to-2 split of the Huntington Town Board has sent a proposal aimed at placing term limits on elected officials back to the drawing board.

At an Aug. 15 town board meeting, council members voted against a public hearing on legislation that would limit the number of years a public official could hold office. The sticking point was which town positions it would affect.

Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) made a motion to amend Councilman Eugene Cook’s (R) resolution which proposed a two-term, or eight-year limit, upwards to three four-year terms, or 12 years. Edwards said this would be more in line with term limits placed by other state and federal governmental offices. Suffolk County legislators are limited to 12 years in office.

Cook accepted these changes, but proposed that the elected positions of town clerk and receiver of taxes be removed from the bill as they are not legislative positions.

Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) said he wouldn’t support these changes, citing term limits should apply to all elected officials or none. Supervisor Frank Petrone (D)  and Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) sided with him.

Berland proposed, with Cuthbertson’s support, that the issue of term limits on elected officials should be voted on in a townwide referendum this November. Petrone and the council members voted against a hearing on the current proposed legislation to see if a referendum is a possibility.

Former Huntington Councilwoman Tracey Edwards won the Democratic town supervisor primary. File photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

Huntington Town Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) is determined to serve her community no matter what. After the lifelong Huntington resident was diagnosed with breast cancer in Jan. 2016 — the beginning of her second year on the board — she spent the better part of nine months in and out of the doctor’s office, undergoing chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries. Yet  she didn’t miss a single board meeting.

“I came in with my hat, I was bald, but I was there because the residents elected me to do a job — I’m efficient,” Edwards, who is now cancer-free, said with a smile.

That efficiency, along with a list of initiatives to better her community, has put the restless 55-year-old on track for town supervisor.

On Monday, May 1, Edwards sat down for an interview, at Panera Bread on Main Street in Huntington, to discuss her achievements so far on the town board, her upbringing, and campaign for supervisor. Born in Huntington Hospital and raised by a narcotics detective, her father, and a civil activist, her mother, Edwards married her high school sweetheart at 17. She and her husband live in Dix Hills and have three children, and two grandchildren.

Edwards was elected to the town board in 2014, after serving 10 years on the Elwood board of education. She previously served on the board of directors of the Long Island Association and worked for 37 years at Verizon, starting as an operator and climbing the ladder to regional president of network operations.

As councilwoman, Edwards worked alongside fellow councilwoman Susan Berland (D) to expand affordable housing legislation for millennials and first-time home buyers to more easily live downtown and has been a strong advocate for youth-oriented programs that tackle drug awareness, encouraging the town’s partnerships with its school districts and churches to confront Long Island’s heroin and opioid epidemic.

She led the rewriting of the town’s ethics code to make it more transparent for residents. “The residents are our customers and the more I can do to bring government to the people the better it is for a more open government,” she said. She and the board are currently working on a resolution to modify registrations for bow hunting, which has long been a safety concern among residents in Asharoken and Eaton’s Neck.

She also spearheaded the creation of the Huntington Opportunity Resource Center, a program that offers assistance with resume preparation, job searches, exploration of career options and access to job training for unemployed and underemployed residents, many of whom are veterans.

“Tracey has always made the veterans feel like we’re an important part of the community and she’s been a great supporter of us,” Bob Santo, commander of Greenlawn American Legion Post 1244, said in a phone interview. “She’s very honest and straightforward and immediately welcoming. Most recently, HORC organized a special veterans service day where dozens gather to welcome veterans and provide information and social services to them…it’s all due to her leadership.”

If elected supervisor, Edwards said she wants to complete revitalization efforts started in Huntington Station, which includes the construction of veteran’s housing, art space, stores, sidewalks and a parking garage, while working with law enforcement to stamp out crime.

“Huntington Station is the entrance into the village and we need to make sure there is a look and feel all the way down on New York Avenue,” she said. “I saw what Huntington Station used to be with businesses along New York Avenue that were thriving. Unfortunately, that turned into parking lots. Paved parking lots for commuter parking is not what our community is all about.”

She said she also wants to continue to hold the line on taxes under the town’s cap, building on the foundation of financial stability laid by current Supervisor Frank Petrone (D).

Moving forward, she hopes to expand the town’s environmental initiatives, focusing specifically on solar and sustainability. She’s a lead sponsor on the county’s Focused Clean Water resolution that bans formaldehyde in marine water tanks.

Alissa Taff, a civic leader in Melville, said although her group can’t endorse candidates, she appreciates Edwards’ support in voting against a recent proposal to build a HomeGoods on a vacant special groundwater protection area on Route 110. The vote wound up 3-2 in favor of the application, with Petrone and other board members giving the go-ahead.

“She voted not in line with her party but in line with what’s right for the community and the wishes of our civic association,” Taff said. “[In doing so], she showed great concern for the environment and what will become a very high traffic area, and protection of park land. We admire her for that.”

Edwards graduated from Elwood-John Glenn High School in 1978 at just 16, doubling up on the essential courses and eliminating the rest so she could more quickly begin her career — she initially had her heart set on joining the police force but her father steered her away from that idea. She quickly got a job at New York Telephone, which later became Verizon, and felt at home.

But she said she feels most at home helping the people of Huntington.

“When people call me and say ‘I hate to bother you with this…’ I’m very quick to tell them, ‘listen, I work for you…when you’re calling me, don’t apologize. That’s what I’m supposed to be doing, working on your behalf,’” she said. “This town is important to me and I want to make sure I do everything I can for it.”

As incumbent bows out, potential challengers come out of the woodwork

Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone drives through the Cow Harbor Day Parade on Sunday, Sept. 20. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

After more than two decades at the helm, 72-year-old Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) announced last week he will not be seeking re-election this fall for another term as supervisor.

“It is with a considerable sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, as well as a little bit of sadness, that I am announcing today that I will not be a candidate for re-election this year,” Petrone wrote in an open letter last week. He said it was a difficult decision, but felt he had achieved what he wanted to when he first took office.

“Since becoming town supervisor … I have consistently pursued an agenda that mirrored my first campaign slogan: People before Politics,” he said. “My agenda was to run town government in a way that made quality of life for our residents my No. 1 priority. And now, looking back, I believe I have accomplished what I set out to do back in 1993. It is only when an elected official puts people first that politics can be used for the greater good.”

Since being elected supervisor almost 24 years ago, Petrone has worked on issues spanning from creating affordable housing, parking, revitalizing Huntington Station, improving local water quality and more. Petrone said he is proud of his fiscal management record, which includes reducing the debt service from 24 percent to about 7 percent in the operating budget and obtaining and maintaining an AAA bond rating. He also mentioned his environmental record, which includes spearheading the first open-space bond act on Long Island, protecting 1,000 acres of land from development, purchasing more than 300 acres for preservation, creating nine new parks and improving 73 others.

“Since becoming town supervisor … I have consistently pursued an agenda that mirrored my first campaign slogan: People before Politics.” — Frank Petrone

The supervisor credited his achievements to his ability to run a bipartisan government.

“We hired people based on their qualifications and not their party affiliation,” he said. “We worked together as professionals and, when necessary, we reached across party lines to move initiatives forward.”

He thanked the many people in government he’s worked with throughout the years, as well as his wife Pat Petrone “for understanding that the demands of this job are 24/7 and for allowing me to focus on my public responsibilities, sometimes at the expense of family ones.”

At the town board meeting Tuesday, April 4, residents thanked Petrone for his service, and those very people are exactly what he said he’ll miss most.

Town board members praised Petrone for his leadership.

“The supervisor has a great ability to bring people together toward a common goal,” Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) said in an email. “We will miss his guidance, leadership and passion for our great town.”

Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) echoed the sentiment.

“A little more than 23 years ago, Frank Petrone assumed the office of supervisor and inherited a town adrift in fiscal instability, laden with debt and countless quality of life issues needing immediate attention,” he said in an email. “Pledging to place the people above politics, Supervisor Petrone worked in a bipartisan manner to restore Huntington’s fiscal health, implemented numerous programs and enacted commonsense legislation to protect our fragile environment, expand housing opportunities for seniors and moderate income families. Throughout his distinguished tenure as supervisor, Frank Petrone never wavered from doing what was in the best interest of his residents. He demanded the best from his fellow town board members and staff, always stressing the importance of upholding our commitment to fair and just public service. It has been an honor and privilege to serve alongside a compassionate and caring gentleman. He has been a faithful and trusted mentor, and I wish him the absolute best in his impending new role as grandfather.”

Town Councilman Gene Cook (I) said he hopes Petrone’s future is as bright as possible.

“I wish him the very best,” Cook said in a phone interview. “I have the utmost respect for him and I hope his future is everything he wants it to be.”

“Frank Petrone never wavered from doing what was in the best interest of his residents. He demanded the best from his fellow town board members and staff, always stressing the importance of upholding our commitment to fair and just public service.”
— Mark Cuthbertson

As for his own future, as a challenger to Petrone’s seat just four years ago, Cook said he’s interested in hearing from residents to see if they would like him to run for supervisor again.

“It’s up to the people of Huntington to decide and I’d really like to hear from them,” he said. “If there’s support I’ll look into it and see how I feel about it.”

Cook encouraged residents to call or email him if they would like to see him represent them as town supervisor, or even “give me a thumbs-up when you see me in town.”

Darryl St. George, a Greenlawn resident who announced his bid for town supervisor last month also praised Petrone.

“Supervisor Petrone has committed over 20 years of his life to town government,” he said in an email. “I thank him for the positive contributions he has made to our town.”

St. George said he believes the timing is right for a new leader to bring change.

“I commend him on his decision as I know it was a difficult one,” he said. “Now is a time for new and energetic leadership to engage our community, and bring real and meaningful change to our neighborhoods. I am dedicated to doing what is right for the people of Huntington and listening to their ideas and concerns.”

Petrone’s announcement seems to have widened the pool of candidates for his soon-to-be vacant seat, as Huntington Station resident Brian Muellers said soon after Petrone announced he is “very seriously,” considering a run.

Muellers is a former Nassau County Legislator. He served in the 18th District from 2000 to 2003, and is looking to enter the public arena again after leaving his leadership role at Pall Corporation, a global supplier of filtration, separation and purification products. He recently volunteered for the congressional campaign of U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) which Muellers said reinvigorated his desire to give back.

“I am determining for myself if there’s enough interest in the background, experience and leadership I bring for a run for office,” he said in a phone interview. “I have the ability to win tough elections, and I have a strong desire to serve my community.”

Petrone said he feels comfortable leaving office now, as many of the projects he set out to work on when he first campaigned are completed and successful.

“It was a good breaking time for me personally and a good breaking time for the town,” he said at the town board meeting. “Some new blood will come in and sit in this seat and will maybe have some new ideas that I didn’t have. And that’s what the town needs. It needs to keep moving forward and it needs to keep new ideas floating. So I think it’s time to give someone else an opportunity to do that.”

Kids signed up for Summer Youth Connection, a free summer camp hosted by Huntington along with other groups and nonprofits. Photo by A.J. Carter

Huntington Town is kicking off its second year of the Summer Youth Connection, a variety of free educational and recreational activities for kids in the community.

Started last year by Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D), the camp runs five evenings a week through Aug. 19

More than 200 teenagers participated last year, and this summer Edwards said she is hoping to reach at least 300 kids enrolled. This camp is presented in conjunction with Suffolk County and a multitude of corporate, not-for-profit partners and volunteers.

“Summer Youth Connection is a remarkable cooperative effort encompassing government, not-for-profit groups, companies and community volunteers to help keep our youth engaged in positive activities during what could be a long, hot summer,” Edwards said at the opening ceremony last week. “I thank all of the participating groups and individuals, with a special thank you to the South Huntington school district for hosting us.”

The summer camp offers programs spanning from basketball and golf to creative writing, photography and robotics.

“Summer Youth Connection is a remarkable cooperative effort encompassing government, not-for-profit groups, companies and community volunteers”
— Tracey Edwards

Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) encouraged the kids to try an activity that is new to them.

“You are going to have so much fun,” she said to the kids at the event. “My suggestion is to take a class of something you have never done before, so that way you can learn something new, and it will be a great and exciting experience for you.”

The camp runs from 5 to 9 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays. Fridays from 6 to 7:30 p.m. are reserved for special needs youth sport activities.

Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) said he saw countless happy faces at last year’s program.

“Not every kid wants to go to camp,” he said. “They want to be in their neighborhoods. They want to be here and enjoy what we have to offer. I was here last summer. Everybody had a happy smile. Everybody was involved. Everybody was trying new things. We look forward to another great summer this year.”

Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) said at the event that the unity and the excitement shown in the kids participating in the camp is a crucial part of a successful community.

“You are our most precious resource,” he said. “We are invested in you. This has been an extremely tough week in this country, when we look at the violence and hate and the things that try to divide us. But this room is an example of what is great about this country.”

Supervisor Frank Petrone speaks on the highway department's preparation for the winter season on Dec. 11. Photo by A.J. Carter.

Winter is coming — and the Huntington Highway Department is ready for it.

In an effort to make the season as seamless as possible, the department has bulked up its winter arsenal with additional dump trucks, refurbished old ones and updated and digitized response services to make the town more accessible to residents.

Highway Superintendent Pete Gunther said the operations center was recently enacted within the highway department to make the town more productive when responding to residents’ requests for assistance services such as plowing. He said residents could simply email the operations center through the town’s website if they require help, where foreman will be notified via iPads to keep them up-to-date on service requests.

“We’ve become really automated now,” Gunther said at a press conference on Friday. “Anything that comes into the operation center can be immediately routed to the area foreman — whether it’s snow or a storm — and take care of whatever the problem is.”

Town Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) said that the department’s efforts are a true example of what Huntington can do when there is cooperation, especially with what he called a “most effective” highway superintendent, who Petrone said has done wonders at his job.

“The people have been served very well by Pete Gunther,” he said at the press conference.

Gunther said the town has acquired 10 new dump trucks this year, equipped with plows and sanders that should last between 25 and 30 years. The town also refurbished 10 older dump trucks with updates like stainless steel bodies to remedy damage from salt exposure.

New dump trucks from the Huntington Highway Department with plows on display at a press conference on Dec. 11. Photo by Victoria Espinoza.
New dump trucks from the Huntington Highway Department with plows on display at a press conference on Dec. 11. Photo by Victoria Espinoza.

The Huntington Town Board allocated $260,000 for the stainless steel repairs, according to Gunther, and the project was completed $18,000 under budget, adding 12 to 15 years of service to the trucks.

“He’ll be in his eighth term by the time he has to do this again,” Petrone joked. Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) said Gunther and his team planned on bringing the town forward in terms of technology.

“To be this prepared this early without the snow is a testament to your leadership,” Edwards said to Gunther.

As for technology upgrades, the department gained 200 portable GPS devices to give to private contractors who help the department during emergencies, allowing the department to reposition equipment in real-time.

Petrone said the town has also mobilized town workers so that they are available if needed for larger highway department projects.

Gunther also urged residents to not park their cars on the street during a storm, as well as leaving basketball hoops set up in the street, to help make plowing as quick and effective as possible.

Thanks to the improvements and upgrades, Guther said, “We are a more efficient and better highway department.”

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