Monthly Archives: October 2015

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Leslie Kennedy photo by Desirée Keegan

Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset) is new to the Suffolk County Legislature but is by no means new to the governmental process. And with more time, we feel she could be an effective leader for the 12th District.

After being voted into office via a special election when her husband and predecessor, John M. Kennedy Jr., took on the county comptroller role, Leslie Kennedy has been tirelessly working as the peoples’ advocate and a fighter for constituent concerns. In a sit-down interview with Times Beacon Record Newspapers, she brought discussion on almost any topic back to her constituents’ needs in an effort to drive home the importance of constituent services to both her and her office.

The family has been a key component of determining where she stands on any given issue. She said one of her goals in all things she does is to make sure Suffolk County remains a place where families can grow and thrive without being overburdened by financial concerns or other detriments to quality of life.

Her opponent, Adam S. Halpern, has not actively campaigned for the seat and did not participate in an interview with our newspaper. Leslie Kennedy, however, demonstrated to us that she is a caring and palpable leader.

She may be untraditional in her approach, but we feel Leslie Kennedy truly wants to respond to the needs of her constituents and has a firm grasp of the issues to respond accordingly.

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Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone file photo

It’s a real race for the Suffolk County executive spot this year. In one corner, you’ve got a seasoned incumbent, Steve Bellone (D), who has an ambitious vision for the region’s future. On the other side, you’ve got Republican Jim O’Connor, who knows finances and is in tune with the taxpayers’ pockets.

It was a tough call, but we say re-elect Bellone.

While Bellone’s judgement call in tapping James Burke — who recently resigned as the county’s police chief amid a federal investigation — gives us pause, the county executive has some big plans ahead. Those include better connecting Suffolk’s existing downtowns to its research institutions to create an attractive environment that entices millenials and employers to stay on the Island.

O’Connor said he sees it in a different light, saying it’s too expensive to live on Long Island and that county government needs to make it cheaper for residents, who are leaving in droves, to stay put. We appreciate a focus on finances, but we prefer Bellone’s long-term vision of the county’s future.

Now, if he could only prevent his dreams from getting in the way of action.

The county executive has grand plans to change a lot of things in Suffolk, from his proposal to connect those downtowns to his desire to increase the sewer network and improve water quality. But after trimming his salary, the size of government and his own body weight, there’s one more thing he must trim: his big goals, into more tamed, specific plans of action.

It’s great to have ideas that would transform the way we live on Long Island, but we can’t get there in just one leap, which our county executive’s rhetoric seems to demonstrate. We have to take small steps that add up to larger ones.

Bellone can do it. He demonstrates an understanding of complex issues — for instance, he knows the solution to the Island’s drug addiction issue is to work on prevention and treatment resources, not just add more cops on the streets. Simple improvements like getting all the county’s town supervisors in one room to agree on streamlining a building process in the county may seem small, but it’d make a huge difference in spurring economic growth, which would also feed into his larger plans.

And maybe he might want to add O’Connor to his administration. He seems to have some good ideas.

Vote for Bellone on Election Day.

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Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright, right. File photo by Elana Glowatz

The race to represent Brookhaven Town’s 1st District is a good one with two ambitious and qualified candidates, but we feel one of them is just the right fit at just the right time, and that’s incumbent Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station).

Councilwoman Valerie Cartright. File photo
Councilwoman Valerie Cartright. File photo

Cartright, an attorney, was first elected to the seat two years ago and has been busy ever since. She can be seen at various community events and working on some of the town’s most pressing issues, like drug-related crime, zoning and planning. She has hosted roundtable discussions as part of her “be a good neighbor” campaign, bringing all involved parties together to address illegal student housing in the communities surrounding Stony Brook University, resulting in new code proposals to better regulate the housing. All in all, she has been responsive in addressing what her constituents identify as concerns facing the district.

Much of the same can be said for Cartright’s opponent, civic president Ed Garboski. The face of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association, Garboski is a proven leader on community issues and was named a Times Beacon Record Newspapers Person of the Year because of it.

However, Cartright’s perspective and life experience is necessary to the Brookhaven Town Board. Not only is she a Democrat on a Republican-controlled board, but she also has a background unlike her council colleagues — she brings a valuable perspective to town politics that would be lost without her.

Garboski is still a great candidate and an effective leader, and we hope he does not go away if he loses this election.

If re-elected, Cartright said she hopes to build upon her constituent outreach by perfecting her communication methods, knocking on doors and bringing in the senior community to better address their concerns in the district. She has already made great strides in bringing groups together to address and discuss problems, and she should be given another term to continue her work.

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Jason Kontzamanys is running on the democratic ticket against incumbent Republican Dan Losquadro, above. File photo by Erika Karp

Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro had a busy year filled with rain, sleet, snow and, now, a re-election bid. We think he handled them all fairly well and deserves a second term.

Jason Kontzamanys is running on the democratic ticket against incumbent Republican Dan Losquadro, above. File photo by Erika Karp
Jason Kontzamanys is running on the democratic ticket against incumbent Republican Dan Losquadro, above. File photo by Erika Karp

Just two years removed from being elected, Losquadro is just getting started at the Highway Department level after stints in the Suffolk County Legislature and New York State Assembly. After coming into office with the inheritance of a mounting debt and crumbling infrastructure, we feel the highway superintendent has been proactive and pragmatic in finding solutions to the county’s problems, while remaining transparent throughout his office’s shortcomings.

In one of the most tangible litmus tests, Losquadro has remained accessible with his office’s attempts at putting a dent in a backlog of road repaving and repair projects, while also admitting there was no way he could tend to every single one. That kind of honesty demonstrates his willingness to work with the public and trust in those he serves.

The winter was brutal and full of snowfall, and it didn’t stop there.

We even saw a horrific tornado barrel through the North Shore in August. All the while, we were pleased with Losquadro’s handling of the storms, hitting the pavement quickly and remaining accessible throughout.

He has also worked to bring the Highway Department into the current century, ushering in new technology and implementing new methods of doing business.

Losquadro’s opponent, Democrat Jason Kontzamanys, has based much of his opposition campaign on knocking the county’s debt and vowing to watch after the taxpayer’s dollar. While we agree with the sentiment of his argument, we don’t feel that is something the current superintendent fails to recognize or act upon.

There is always debt in government, but Brookhaven has stood out with a Moody’s bond rating of Aa2. If Moody’s has given the town a favorable rating, then the town is not in dire financial straits.

Businesses that don’t carry debt are few and far between, and while we recognize the town has mounting debt, we also feel Losquadro is privy to the financing of that debt and works to deal with it accordingly as much as a highway superintendent can.

Losquadro is just getting started. He had a tough winter with very little criticisms, especially from the ground level of his constituents, and we feel he should get another term under his belt.

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Suffolk County Legislator William "Doc" Spencer. File photo

William “Doc” Spencer just might have the right prescription for Suffolk County.

He’s going for his third term as legislator, and he is the right man for the job. Elected officials and candidates for office often speak in generalities, able to identify issues in their communities but unable to come up with solutions. But in an interview with this newspaper, Spencer (D-Centerport) shared specific ideas for solving neighborhood problems, such as putting pressure on pharmaceutical companies to support local anti-drug programs; bridging the social gap between the police and Huntington Station residents by bringing in more minority officers and increasing the number who are bilingual; and using community programs to engage young people before they are recruited by gangs.

Add that to the accomplishments of his first two terms — like bringing in money to upgrade the Northport wastewater treatment plant, which protects local water quality, and helping to pass laws that penalize people who falsely claim to be military veterans in order to illicit donations — and you have a winner.

Spencer is a well-organized, caring legislator who has done good things for his constituents. His opponent, Republican Grant Lally, has done a great thing in stepping up to serve his community, but Spencer is the superior candidate.

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Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine. File photo by Erika Karp

Ed Romaine has a solid record of getting things done. He has kept the lid on taxes; brought single-stream recycling into the town, which added revenue and made collection day easier on residents; and fought bad neighbors who run their homes as illegal boarding houses or abandon their properties and allow them to fall into disrepair. And under the leadership of the Republican Center Moriches resident, the town paid off its pension debt this year — an important factor in maintaining fiscal stability in the future.

On top of these efforts that affect residents where they live, he has attacked broader initiatives, including supporting laws that encourage residents to use alternative energy sources.

His Democratic challenger, Douglas Dittko, is nowhere to be found, but that’s OK because what Romaine has been doing is working.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Re-elect Romaine on Nov. 3.

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Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point), right, and Park Ranger Molly Hastings at the stewardship center. Photo from Brookhaven Town

There’s a reason Jane Bonner has already been elected the 2nd District town councilwoman four times — the Conservative from Rocky Point knows how to get things done.

One of the most important projects she has recently been involved in was the Route 25A corridor study, which will serve as a guideline for development along the busy road, from Mount Sinai to Wading River, for many years to come. She has also worked on environmental and quality of life issues like improving stormwater drainage, combating coastal erosion and bringing down neighborhood eyesores. During her time in office, Bonner has built a reputation as someone who is accessible and responsive to residents, even if it means calling someone back while unloading her groceries.

Bonner has proven she is a caring and effective councilwoman. She should be re-elected to a fifth term.

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Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn is pushing a bill to make it easier to get rid of leftover medicine. File photo
Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn is pushing a bill to make it easier to get rid of leftover medicine. File photo

Since 2011, Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) has worked to defend the public’s health and safety. She spearheaded a law to protect our water supply from hazardous plastic materials; worked to eliminate toxic chemicals from toys; preserved open space; and put a lifesaving drug into the hands of our first responders to help them prevent opioid overdoses.

Hahn is accessible to the people she represents, and her ideas are moving the county in the right direction.

Republican challenger Donna Cumella has lived in Suffolk County for 44 years and is quite knowledgeable about the big issues, and we applaud her willingness to serve the community. But Hahn has proven that she takes action to improve her constituents’ quality of life. She should be re-elected to another term.

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Legislator Sarah Anker photo by Erika Karp
Legislator Sarah Anker photo by Erika Karp
Legislator Sarah Anker photo by Erika Karp

Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) has her hand in a lot of things.

To name a few, she is trying to push forward the long-awaited Rails to Trails project to connect North Shore communities with a walking trail; provide information to our schools about ways to keep student-athletes safer; and work with other entities to provide more health services to people struggling with addiction.

Anker’s ear has been easily available to constituents since she took office in 2011 and she takes what she hears to heart. Although we would like to see her put less emphasis on creating county task forces to investigate issues and take more direct action, she has earned another term.

In an interview with this newspaper, Republican challenger Steve Tricarico talked little about anything other than taxes, and while that is a supremely important issue, a legislator must have a mind on the human element as much as the money.

We applaud Tricarico for throwing his hat in the ring to serve his community. He appears to be a smart man and we are glad to have him representing residents’ needs in our town highway department, but Anker is the better candidate for Suffolk County Legislature.

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Kevin LaValle represents the 3rd Council District. Photo by Erika Karp

Kevin LaValle has only been a Brookhaven Town councilman for two years, but he’s been on the scene for much longer.

He got his feet wet working for Suffolk County Legislator Tom Muratore, which means he’s well-versed in Middle Country’s issues.

One of the things he did with his first term in the town was helping to finally acquire space for athletic fields in Selden, something the community desperately needed and had waited years for. LaValle started the project in Muratore’s office and then picked up the torch for the town when he was first elected. Now, Selden is on its way to have more sports and leisure space for kids and adults alike.

We have a feeling LaValle, a Republican who grew up in Middle Country, will only keep getting better as time goes on. He has shown high energy and commitment. Voters should re-elect him on Tuesday.