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.