2021 Elections

Pixabay photo

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Inside this issue is a treasure trove of first-hand information about the candidates and the issues in the coming election. How do I know? Because we, the different members of the editorial board of Times Beacon Record Newspapers, personally interviewed 25 people running for office across the three towns that we serve: Brookhaven, Smithtown and Huntington. The offices the candidates are running for are all local, which means that these are the officials who will have the most direct effect on our lives. 

The positions range this year from county legislators to town supervisors, town council, town clerk, district attorney and sheriff. We asked them questions without bias, seeking only to understand who they were, what they believed and what we could expect from each of them, should they be elected — or re-elected, as the case might be. The setting in our conference room was relaxed, and we hoped comfortable, with opponents for each office seated together around the table responding to questions put to them by our editors and reporters. 

Sometimes there were four candidates, sometimes only one who might be running unopposed or against a shadow opponent, but mostly there were two during each session. Most of the time, the hour goes by calmly, but occasionally the opponents get testy with each other — they may even become openly hostile.

At one such session some years ago, one of the candidates invited the other out to the back parking lot “to settle things.” When the other began to take off his jacket, we quickly intervened. But there were no such flare-ups this year. 

The answers were timed in an attempt to get to the main ideas without running on too long. There was ample time at the end for each visitor to tell us anything more that perhaps we hadn’t elicited with our questioning. 

We have written up the details of each interview in a separate article for the election section. And we discuss the candidates at the end of each hour and come to a conclusion for the endorsement. 

Most of the time, the editorial group was unanimous because the choices were fairly direct. But for a couple of races, we talked over the pros and cons of each candidate at length before making the selection. These endorsements are based on both the in-depth interviews and the considerable information we know about the incumbents since we have been covering them closely throughout their terms in office. Of course, after reading the stories, you may or may not agree with our conclusions. Our job is to get you thinking.

The many hours that are given to this task, throughout the month of October, are a service for our readers. We are privileged to enjoy an extended face-to-face time with those standing for election, and we feel an obligation to pass along whatever information, facts and impressions we gather during these sessions. We sincerely hope we help in the sometimes-difficult job of casting a responsible vote.

Each year we include in the election section a sample ballot that we are able to procure from the Suffolk County Board of Elections because readers have told us that it is a great advantage for them to receive the ballot at the voting poll already knowing how it is laid out.

Our editorial board is made up of staffers with different political leanings, but when we put our journalists’ hats on, we try to judge each race strictly on the merits of the opposing candidates. And while it is technically possible for me to be tyrannical about the final selections, that is almost never the case. We decide by majority rule.

Sincere thanks to the talented staff who join in this extra work each year. We truly believe that we are watchdogs for the people, and nowhere is that more necessary than in reporting about government and its office holders. We hope we have helped you, whether you read by newspaper and/or online. Now please vote.  

Town of Smithtown councilmembers Tom McCarthy (R) and Lynne Nowick (R)

Town of Smithtown councilmembers, Lynne Nowick (R) and Tom McCarthy (R), gathered on Friday with TBR News Media to discuss their running for reelection to the Town Board. Neither Democratic candidate, Dylan Rice or Marc Etts, accepted TBR’s invitation to join the debate.

Nowick is a lifelong resident of St. James and was a Suffolk County legislator in the 13th District for 12 years from 2002 until she was term limited. In January of 2014, she was elected to the Smithtown Town Board. 

Before becoming a county legislator and councilwoman, she was Smithtown tax receiver for six years and worked in the court system for county court judge, Alfred Tisch (R). Explaining her love for her family and town, she has full confidence in making Smithtown a place where residents can have a quality of life. 

Tom McCarthy

Having a plethora of experience in what it’s like to be a Long Island resident, Nowick believes she has a pulse on the community and knows what residents need. 

“When you’ve been a part of a town for so long, I think you know what people want,” she said. “I ran for the council not only because I love my town, but because I’m a doer and I like to work.”

McCarthy is also a native Long Islander and businessman, who has lived in Suffolk County for 30 years and in Smithtown for 15 years. He has worked in the automobile and marine industries before retiring in 2008.

He started his political career in 1997 when he noticed the town wasn’t resident-orientated and wanted to make changes for the better. McCarthy also serves as deputy town supervisor.

“It’s just a great town, it’s a great place to live and raise a family,” he said. “There was nothing out here when I was born and raised, but my grandparents found it because of Lake Ronkonkoma and would come out to the Island every weekend.” 

The candidates spoke on their concerns with apartments, businesses during COVID-19 and the future of sewering the business districts. 


Nowick said installing the sewer system in Kings Park is well on its way, and plans to use the potential Kings Park sewer system for the Town of Smithtown as well. 

“We have signed requests to our Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) because we want her to be aware of how important this is,” Nowick said. “We know what we want, we just need the money.”

If the process of installing a sewering system in Kings Park, which would be placed near Kings Park Psychiatric Center, is successful, only two of the approximately 15 acres will be used for the project. The rest of the acreage will be preserved.

“We have three different options to go with the Lake Avenue mains,” McCarthy said. “One is a possible connection to Gyrodyne. Another possible connection is a piece of property we’ve looked at in Nesconset. The other possible connection is going down on 25A and picking up the pipe that goes farther west.”

Although the town cannot build a plant yet, the municipality is preparing for it.  

COVID-19 and local businesses

Concerned for small businesses falling into a deeper pit of debt since the pandemic began, Nowick said there should be more programs and grants to aid them back to recovery.

Lynne Nowick

“They’re hurting, there’s got to be more out there in the way of grant money,” she said. “I think it is incumbent upon us to try to the best of our ability to get the word out by making calls to our federal and state elected officials.”

Although introducing new businesses is important to the town, she said it’s important to protect the small businesses that have already been operating before the pandemic. 

McCarthy noted that many of the small businesses got assistance from the government too late, and needed more help from the federal government while the pandemic was occurring.

“What we’re going to do going forward is that we are currently working on writing the code so the outdoor dining can continue during the winter,” he said.

Trying to make the process as easy as possible for businesses to apply for outdoor dining by signing a single sheet and having a fire marshal come to inspect the area, McCarthy plans to continue the ease of this process into the near future. 


According to Nowick, sewers and quality of life are on the top of her budget list. Redeveloping and renovating 75 percent of the parks in Smithtown has been one of her many accomplishments.

“If you know this town, you know people want their parks and their beaches,” she said.

Having invested a substantial amount of money in the Daniel J. Flynn Memorial Park in Commack, by turning it into a park that is a state-of-the-art facility has helped create a small economic engine for the town.

“I believe in investing in quality of life, whether its parks or beaches or downtown,” she said.

Agreeing with Nowick, McCarthy said he’d like to see the budget spent on projects that will enhance residents’ lives in the town such as funding the highway department, which keeps Smithtown’s roads snow-free during the cold winter months.

“We’ve gone on a lease purchase now instead of buying the equipment, and letting it get old and then spending millions of dollars in repairs,” McCarthy said. “Now we keep getting new equipment and are even selling equipment right now because on a lease basis we can sell at any point, so we are actually getting more money than we paid for it.”  


After speaking with the new apartment tenants located in Smithtown, McCarthy said he believes a majority of them have moved to the area within 10 miles of their original home. 

He said most of the apartments are adjacent to the railroads, so young people can use the train to go to work in Manhattan.

“The city will come back,” he said. “It’s just going to take a substantial amount of time, probably more than a decade before it comes back based on the way it is right now. But more and more people will go back to the city and you have to be prepared for that.”

Adding that the apartments are necessary for the town, Nowick also pointed out that many single parents and people who have been divorced find refuge in the complexes and also bring in business to local shops.

“The young people, unfortunately, have to share with a roommate but at least we give them an opportunity if they want to stay by their family,” she said. “The apartments aren’t affordable, but if young people want to stay here they can’t afford [to buy] houses.”

Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim and challenger Maria Scheuring during a debate at TBR News Media’s office Oct. 21. Photos by Rita J. Egan

Development in the Town of Smithtown is on the top of town supervisor candidates’ minds on the way to election day Nov. 2. Incumbent Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) lauds his and board members’ efforts to revitalize downtowns and sewer infrastructure. Meanwhile, his challenger, local attorney and Democrat Maria Scheuring, said she is concerned about overdevelopment.

Wehrheim has spent nearly 50 years in town government, working through the ranks of the town parks department from 1972 until he was appointed department director in 1989. He retired from that position in 2003 when he was elected to the Town Council. Wehrheim was put forward as the Republican frontrunner for supervisor in 2017, ahead of previous supervisor Patrick Vecchio, who had been in the position for close to four decades. Wehrheim won the close primary and went on to handily win his supervisor seat that November.

Photo by Rita J. Egan

Scheuring grew up in the Bronx, where she worked in the Bronx D.A.’s office before moving to Smithtown in 2006. She currently has a private practice dealing in matters from guardianship to visiting clients in nursing homes to looking over music contracts. A musician herself, she is also the executive director of Alive After Five festival in Patchogue, where she said her frequent attendance of village meetings has given her insight into the struggles of local government. 

During an in-house debate in TBR News Media’s offices, Scheuring said she was concerned with the number of empty storefronts in Smithtown, especially due to the pandemic. She said she counted around 25 empty buildings along West Main Street from Katie’s bar to Route 111. She would propose making a director of industry a full-time position to work with the community and “only find appropriate stores, or restaurants or businesses that could be put in those empty storefronts, but not taking away from the current businesses that are there.” She also proposed taking the empty bowling alley located near the Smithtown train station and turning it into a youth and community center.

Wehrheim said COVID-19 had an impact on all three of Smithtown’s main small business districts, in the St. James, Smithtown and Kings Park hamlets, though the vacancy rate among all three remains 12%. He defended the town’s response to the pandemic, saying Smithtown instituted a three-day turnaround outdoor dining permit, which around 80 restaurants and bars took advantage of. That permit and permit process had been extended into the current year. The town took its audio/visual staff, which work out of the code and safety office, and created lengthy videos about how each business was adjusting to COVID measures, which were published on the town app and social media. 

Still, Scheuring said she is most concerned about new development, especially new apartments along Smithtown’s main streets. She said her old Bronx neighborhood in Throgs Neck was being slowly transformed from single family homes into apartment complexes. She said she doesn’t see how the town is prepared for new incoming residents, whether it’s the impact on schools or traffic. She pointed to Babylon and Sayville that have “thriving main streets” without apartment buildings.

“I think a lot of people feel that way,” she said. “I don’t think that they are happy that there’s an apartment complex going up right on [Smithtown’s] Main Street. The traffic is bad enough, it’s going to cause more traffic.”

She added that she was further concerned with the price of some of these apartments, that they are overpriced for single people and that many who move in “don’t have roots, they don’t intend to put roots in this community necessarily.” Scheuring further asked why the town instead doesn’t focus on building townhouses, such as those in Patchogue.

The current supervisor said that Smithtown has changed drastically from when he was a young man, when most of the town was farmland. Now, “that ship has sailed.” He argued that most experts agree that the way to save main streets is to have constant foot traffic within the downtowns, and that requires apartments, and especially mixed-use buildings with living space above and commercial space below. He added these apartments are important for keeping both young and old on Long Island, but residential neighborhoods will not suddenly start seeing apartment complexes going up on their blocks.

“We have beautiful residential communities in the Town of Smithtown — they will never be hampered or affected by what we do,” Wehrheim said. “We do it in commercial areas. Some of the developments that some folks have talked about … they’re developments that we’re doing in blighted areas.”

The other big controversial topic within the town, especially the North Shore communities, remains the proposed Gyrodyne development on the Flowerfield property in St. James, especially plans for a sewage treatment plant on the property. 

Photo by Rita J. Egan

Wehrheim said that now the renovations on Lake Avenue in St. James are complete, including underground sewer infrastructure, the town would be able to connect to a sewage treatment plant, either to the north, at Gyrodyne, but if not then also east or south. Similarly, with plans to renovate Kings Park business district in a similar way, state approval for a sewage treatment plant on the old Kings Park Psychiatric Center property is a huge boon for residents in that area. 

Water quality and the health of coastal bays remains top priority, Wehrheim said. He cited the town’s recent acquisition of the Oasis gentlemen’s club through eminent domain in order to protect the head of the Nissequogue River.

As far as Gyrodyne is concerned, he said the only action currently happening is the Smithtown Planning Board will be making a decision on an eight-lot subdivision of the Flowerfield property, “then the Town Board will have an opportunity to work with the principals of their property on what is going in there. We will look at it as a Town Board, if and when the subdivision is done, and then we will control what gets developed there through our planning professionals and our environmental professionals on that site.” 

Scheuring said it has been hard for the community to understand what is currently happening with the Gyrodyne development, and that at meetings and other community gatherings, people “are saying they just didn’t want that, they want green space, they don’t want overdevelopment — the traffic is already bad on 25A.”

She went on to say “there is no information about the latest plans for this town,” regarding this or other developments. Wehrheim countered that the town does regular updates on its website and now has an app for residents to get up-to-date info on their phones. Meetings are also livestreamed and accessible to the general public.

Overall, Scheuring said, as a Smithtown resident and mother of three, she represents a good portion of the community, and she would like to focus on the use of properties to maintain the town’s character.

“As a member of this community, I feel passionate about these things, because this is my family,” she said.

Wehrheim said his track record speaks for itself, and if elected he would continue with parks and downtowns revitalization efforts, as well as keeping an open and transparent town hall. “The fact that it’s been my career, and I love doing it, bodes well for me to continue to serve the Smithtown public,” he said.


Photos from candidates

While the race for Suffolk County legislator in the 18th Legislative District got off to a rocky start with contentious mailers sent by both candidates, the tone was civil during a TBR News Media Zoom debate with candidates Mark Cuthbertson (D), currently serving as Town of Huntington councilman, and Stephanie Bontempi, a newcomer to the political field.

County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) has served the district for nearly a decade, but decided not to run this year. He is currently facing charges for allegedly trading oxycodone for sex.

Meet the candidates

Bontempi, who grew up in Sweden and came to the U.S. for college and decided to stay in New York, is a fifth-grade teacher at The Green Vale School in Old Brookville. The wife and mother, of three grown children, has lived in Centerport for 30 years.

She’s the chairperson of Town of Huntington’s Beautification Advisory Council and has been a member of several local organizations. In addition to teaching, she has a degree in finance and two graduate degrees in education-related subjects.

She said with more time on her hands now that her children are grown, she decided to run for office and be a “voice for the people in our community.”

“I’ve seen a decline in our area,” Bontempi said. “Our taxes are going up, roads failing, the environment, water quality and so forth … rather than complain, I want to try to do something about it.”

Cuthbertson has been a town councilman for more than two decades. He grew up in Huntington Station and graduated from Walt Whitman High School. He’s a husband and father of three children. As a councilman as well as an attorney, he said he’s been involved in local government in a public and private capacity. He said he has “good grounding” when it comes to not only town issues but county issues. 

“I really feel that I can bring the breadth of my experience to the county and work with the county executive, who has been a friend for 24 years, to do things for the 18th Legislative District.”

He added he’s proud of helping to preserve and protect more than 1,000 acres of land in the Town of Huntington and contributing to the town’s triple-A bond rating.

County budget

Cuthbertson said there are several things that are good in the proposed Suffolk County budget, including $125 million for wastewater infrastructure which he thinks is key. He also agrees with the $35 million for main street recovery to help businesses hit by COVID-19 and money put aside if the pandemic becomes an ongoing issue.

“I think the good parts of this budget are the reserve funds,” he said. “I think that’s been a key to our success in the Town of Huntington is when you have good years — not just squandering that money on spending — reserving it for things that you have to pay in the future. So, there’s money that’s going toward tax stabilization. There’s money that’s going toward debt service reserve fund and insurance reserve fund, pensions and payouts of employees which are important.” 

Bontempi said one has to be careful when using the term surplus, especially since the county has additional funds due to federal government aid and not taxpayers’ money.

“We have to be very careful with how we utilize this money,” Bontempi said.

She added the county has pulled money from the budget for a long time and money has been taken out from the funds for sewer stabilization and environmental causes.

“I would suggest that we replenish the areas where money has been taken out, definitely,” she said. “I would suggest that we repay some of our debt to lower our interest expenses.”

Bontempi added the county’s Department of Social Services needs more attention. She said the department is overwhelmed and understaffed leading to not having the proper resources to serve the community.

Cuthbertson agreed that being able to staff social services at adequate levels is important.

“We have 7.2% of this county living in poverty, and there are outcomes there that are very difficult and beyond people in poverty, that are in difficult circumstances that need the help of government,” he said.

Suffolk County Police Department

Bontempi said after people’s physiological needs are met the next fundamental need to thrive is safety.

“We need to feel safe in our homes,” she said. “We need to feel safe dropping our children at the school bus. We need to feel safe walking our dogs. So, I am very much a proponent for law enforcement.”

She added because of this she feels police officers should be provided funding for adequate training and to be well equipped.

Cuthbertson said it’s well known that SCPD officers make good money and county residents know “a police officer joins the force and in a short period of time, with overtime, he’s probably making in excess of six figures.”

He added it’s important to continue giving police the resources they need but also to demand accountability. Cuthbertson said it’s important to evolve and embrace “the mental health piece of the police reform plan to embrace other issues.”

It’s important to look at issues in Suffolk County, he added, where studies show Blacks and Hispanics are more likely to get pulled over or be part of an escalated situation.

“Let’s compensate our police adequately and well, but let’s ask that they embrace change and accountability, and I think 99% of the police force do,” Cuthbertson said. “I think it’s a matter of just a cultural shift that hopefully is going on.” 


He said with approximately $286 million from the American Recovery Plan, there’s a possibility that some funding will go to Huntington Station sewering. He said there has been a study of the area and the direction the town should go and the best alternatives to connect to an existing sewering system.

“I think by partnering with the county we could affect some really great change for the environment for economic development in one fell swoop,” Cuthbertson said. 

He added they have to do a better job in talking to residents about replacing their septic systems with low-nitrogen units.

Bontempi agreed that sewers are important. She said in addition to Huntington Station, areas north of Route 25A need to be looked at, too. She said higher-density areas and elevated areas have more toxins seeping into the ground and making it to local waterways.

She added the new low-nitrogen septic systems need more work as they are expensive to install, even with the county grant.

“We have to protect our water,” she said. “There is no question about it.”

The two agreed there are difficulties with getting sewers in certain areas of the district due to topography.

William “Doc” Spencer

Both candidates said regarding Spencer they would like to continue his work to help save the environment such as the plastic bag initiative. Bontempi added she applauds his work in saving open space, such as Coindre Hall Park that overlooks Huntington Harbor. Both candidates said Spencer’s work regarding the opioid crisis is also important to continue.

Legislator Sarah Anker and opponent Brendan Sweeney during TBR News Media’s in-person debates, Oct. 11. Photos by Julianne Mosher

Running on the Republican ticket for District 6 of the Suffolk County Legislature, Brendan Sweeney, of Shoreham, is currently a citizens advocate in the office of Supervisor Ed Romaine (R), Town of Brookhaven. His opponent, incumbent Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai). 

Before serving in the Legislature, Anker had been energy director for the Town of Brookhaven, where she developed solar programs and promoted clean energy and green homes technologies. She had also served on the Mount Sinai school board, raising three children in the district. 

Anker graduated from Pasco High School in Dade City, Florida, and received a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts in 1986 from St. Leo University in Dade City, Florida. She took graphic design courses at New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury. 

She first ran for county legislator a little over 10 years ago. The 2021 election is the last term she can run for and she said she can explain her reelection in three words: “To help people.”

Sweeney, 28, previously worked in the Brookhaven Town Building Department, the town Department of General Services and the town Law Department. In these roles, he worked on town issues including abandoned houses and building issues. He worked on Freedom of Information Law compliance in the town building and planning departments. He also worked for county Comptroller John Kennedy Jr. (R-Nesconset) when Kennedy was a legislator, and in the county Department of Audit and Control.

Sweeney graduated from St. Anthony’s High School and received a bachelor’s degree in history in 2014 from the University of Florida. He said he is currently enrolled at Touro Law School in Central Islip.

“It has always been in my in my blood to want to help people,” he said. 

COVID-19 recovery

Anker has been working for the county throughout the whole COVID-19 pandemic, using her platform to help connect people with vaccines and continues to educate her constituents on the matter. 

“Hopefully it’ll get better and hopefully we will have a better understanding,” she said. “What happens is that if we don’t know what’s around the corner, there’s nervousness, there’s tension and there’s anxiety — that’s what we’ve all been experiencing the past almost-two years.”

Anker said that throughout the pandemic, she worked constantly with the state. 

“I noticed, though, we need to do more on a county level to address the process to get a vaccine,” she said. 

When vaccines became available, she said that she, as chair of the county Seniors & Human Services committee, helped to get senior citizens their vaccines because she knew they were feeling left out. 

After calling the state, she said she helped set up vaccination pods at local fire departments, along with facilitating communication between doctors with credible information.

“It was frustrating,” she said, “but I have a website that is being put together to help bring critical medical information to medical providers.”

Anker believes that trust needs to be brought back into society. 

“I think the political divide has hampered that — and I’ll say on both sides to a great extent because we have more in common than we have different,” she said. “We need to figure out how we can come back to that foundation because our adversaries are just waiting.”

Sweeney believed that the county did “a good job overall” in how it handled the coronavirus crisis. 

“To be given the hand that they were dealt with, I have to give credit where credit is due,” he said. 

He, however, believes that we need to adjust to a “newer normal.”

Sweeney said it’s important to encourage people to get their vaccinations against the virus, but ultimately believes it should be a choice. 

“My attitude is we have to have the government going to people and telling them the importance of it,” he said. “But the problem right now, ever since Watergate, is there’s been a distrust in government.”

Sweeney believes that information should be going straight to trusted medical providers to work with their patients to alleviate concerns or find a way to cease apprehensions. 

Small business

Sarah Anker. Photo by Julianne Mosher

While the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the daily lives of people around the world, local small businesses are still struggling. Anker said that to help business owners, she proposed legislation to create a small business website to make it easier for those struggling. 

The site includes resources for PPP, grant applications and other entities to help people navigate through the constant changes associated with COVID. She hopes that the site can also provide ways to help business owners find employees willing to work.

“There’s so many people struggling,” Anker said. “You can go down part of the whole street here and find ‘help wanted’ signs.”

Sweeney, who helped on the Brookhaven level with the coronavirus task force, had local chambers of commerce meet together to suggest the biggest issues in town. A big problem, however, was the restrictions coming in from the state level. 

“That limited, even the suggestions the businesses came to us with, for we were limited in what we could actually implement, since our regulations that we had power over were taken away from us,” he said.

But Anker said that the two share a similar perspective — the county did a good job under the circumstances and worked along other levels of government to get things done. 

“I can see where there could have been improvements, and as we continue to go through this, I’m hoping that I can help tweak it,” she said. “I’m in a place at this point where I can make suggestions, I can propose legislation, I can create a task force to get all these amazing minds together to try to solve some of these problems. But, you know, we are all in this and we’re all trying to get through it.” 

One project Anker helped with was working alongside the county Department of Labor at the One-Stop Employment Center. 

Before the pandemic, she coordinated a field trip for Rocky Point High School seniors to visit the center. She insists that young people heading out of high school and into college need to be up to date on new technology for the future jobs that will be available. 

Sweeney agreed, but noted that colleges, like county-funded Suffolk County Community College, should be given more money.

“The county is not paying its fair share right now, nor is the state, so the state’s at fault, too,” he said. “The original formula when it was decided, when it was formed, was 33% county, 33% state and basically 33% paid for by the taxpayer going to the college. But right now, it’s more like 50% for the taxpayer.”

He also believes encouraging students that college is not the only choice out there is important. 

“We need to encourage people that any option is out there, you don’t have to just immediately go to the white-collar option,” he said. “Some of these blue-collar jobs, they may not look glamorous and the work you’re doing, but the pay you’re getting because they’re in such demand will entice them.”

Water quality

Anker became involved with local environmental issues nearly 20 years ago, and now with her current role as legislator, she said she is in a place where she can vote on land preservation, clean up toxic sites, enforce illegal dumping and more. 

As of late, Anker is working toward dredging, which was finished in Mount Sinai Harbor earlier this year. 

“This is something I’m going to focus a lot more on in the upcoming weeks,” she said. 

“I’m also working to try to figure out a way to stop chemicals, medication — there’s all kind of stuff coming out in our sewers, and some of those sewer lines go right out into our oceans,” Anker added. “And to me, that’s unacceptable.”

Sweeney said he would focus on adding more sewers to the county. 

“We should put sewers where everybody that desires sewers wants them,” he said. “That’s an ambitious goal, and it’s unlikely to happen in the near future, but that’s what we’re working toward.”

Brendan Sweeney. Photo by Julianne Mosher

By adding more sewers to areas that need it, it could eventually help the aquifer where Long Islanders get their water. Sweeney added that he hopes to see the federal infrastructure bill pass soon, so more funds could go toward improving local water quality. 

Both Anker and Sweeney agree that infrastructure in their district needs to improve. 

“We’ve had a lot of flooding in Rocky Point,” Sweeney said. “Driving along William Floyd [Parkway], there are so many potholes.”

While funding comes from different levels of government depending on the roads and territories, he said that on the county level, two things should be done: preventing stormwater harm and sewering issues. 

Anker said, however, that she truly feels that the town and county work together well when it comes to joining together to better the areas they share. 

“We focus on a lot of issues, and we were very productive and getting things done,” she said. “We focus a lot on quality-of-life projects together.”


Anker was instrumental in the development of the North Shore Rail Trail connecting several different communities with a brand-new park, walking and biking trail. 

“We’re all one big community,” she said. “So, I think it’s important to support the local civic associations that work together, support the local historical societies that are keeping our legacy alive for that.”

She added that a high priority of the Legislature is to provide more open space. 

Sweeney agreed, and said that he believes communities in the district appreciate and like to visit downtowns, but aren’t necessarily looking for one in their backyard. 

“For me, I look at it not that we don’t want downtowns because we do have Rocky Point,” he said. “I think some of our residents would prefer that true suburban area. Our district is where you want to start your family. You want to move into a house, you want to occasionally go out for dinner and drinks with your friends or your spouse, and you go into the downtown area and then you go back home — but you don’t want that constant hustle and bustle, either.”

Affordable housing

Throughout Anker’s career in local government, she has helped to implement legislation that requires developers to provide affordable housing, or workforce housing. While at first unwelcomed by people within her district, she said they are now starting to see a need for the kids to have a place to live. 

“It’s becoming much more acceptable,” she said, adding that Mount Sinai has started to see several 55-and-over communities pop up for empty nesters.

Sweeney, a young person himself who has just purchased a home, said that the county should help with making living on Long Island more affordable. 

“One of the first things that I would do from the county aspect would be to start trying to find areas of the budget that we can start cutting, start reducing so that we can lower our expenditure on the average taxpayer,” he said. “That little bit can be just enough of what you need to be able to make the difference between staying in your apartment that you’re in right now and purchasing a nice, lovely new home in Coram, Middle Island or Mount Sinai.”

Incumbent Brookhaven Town Clerk Donna Lent is running against Democrat Ira Costell. Lent photo from Town of Brookhaven, Costell photo from Costell

TBR News spoke with Town Clerk Donna Lent (R) and Ira Costell (D) over Zoom on Monday. They will be running against each other as the election for town clerk for the Town of Brookhaven approaches quickly. 

Lent, who is serving her second term as town clerk, has managed day-to-day operations such as issuing death certificates and handicap parking permits, while land-use applications are filed within the office. 

There are three divisions — licensing, registrar and administrative units — in her department alone, and on some days, Lent says up to 200 people will come into the office.

After extensive training, Lent was certified as a registered municipal clerk by the New York State Town Clerks Association in 2017, but before entering public service, she worked as a law office manager and was a small business owner.

Her opponent, Costell, has taken leadership roles in environmental causes such as the Suffolk County Watershed Protection Advisory Committee and served as chair of the county’s Pine Barrens Review Commission. 

He has been passionate about the fight against opioid addiction and prescription drug abuse. Costell is a New York State-certified addiction and recovery coach and has been involved in various recovery committees.

The two opponents came to TBR News Media’s offices to debate their opinions on whose ideas would be best suitable for the town clerk’s position.

The concern of making Freedom of Information Law appeals more accessible to the public is something that Costell said he will actively work on if elected. His main argument is that residents of Brookhaven have been left in the dark when it comes to requesting information from the Town Clerk’s Office.

However, Lent said if materials or records are not able to be provided, there is a reason as to why not. 

“They probably haven’t asked for the records correctly, we are not required to create records for them, we only have to provide what is already existing,” she said. “Sometimes people don’t search thoroughly because there was an aspect of something they weren’t unaware of that we were able to shed light on.”

Rebutting Lent’s argument, Costell said he had very serious questions about the FOIL process as there were nearly 14,000 requests last year in the town’s Law Department.

“I would like to work as part of that process for an audit to figure out how we can streamline that process,” he said.

Costell feels the information on the town’s website is not readily available to residents. 

“When initiating a public hearing notice on the town’s website, the information about the hearing is not connected to the notice, so residents don’t always know about the particulars of what’s being proposed in the public hearing,” he said.

Lent said the Town Clerk’s Office does the public hearing notices, which are readily available on the website as soon as they go up. However, the town clerk does not make the determination on what needs to get posted because the notice is from what the Law Department already drafted. 

“It is incumbent upon the clerk in my belief, to coordinate and collaborate, not to just handle a piece of paper and move it on to the next level,” Costell said.

In regards to communicating with the Town of Brookhaven, he said the software the office is using should be able to have direct sign-ups for people who are interested in a particular issue so people from various areas do not have to rely on someone from a different town to tell them there’s a hearing related to something they are interested in.

However, Lent said there is a sign-up system within civic clerks for alerts and areas of topic. She noted that residents can call her office to be added to get notifications as well. 

Costell believes that the Town Clerk’s Office should have more outreach to the public on a quarterly basis by using town facilities such as senior centers and recreational programs, to help residents navigate the online services or to assist communities that don’t have access to broadband. 

“We have been improving that process, that’s why we changed our software system last February,” Lent said. “There has been a period of adjustment for residents that were accustomed to finding documents within the old system, but if you use the search bar at the top it will take you to whatever you are looking for.”

Disagreeing with Lent, Costell said he thinks the website is hard to navigate and should have the option to be translated to Spanish.

Lent feels her opponent will be biting off more than he can chew if elected as town clerk. “Everyone has hopes dreams and aspirations of what a job may be like, but it’s not until you get into the job that you have to face the reality of day-to-day operations and restrictions,” Lent said.

Candidates for Huntington Town Board, from left, David Bennardo, Sal Ferro, Jennifer Hebert and Joseph Schramm took part in a debate at TBR News Media’s office. Photos by Rita J. Egan

With two seats open on the Huntington Town Board, whoever finds themselves filling those empty positions will have their hands full, whether it’s helping bring business to the town during and after COVID-19 or dealing with water quality issues and shoring up the coastline.

Despite all that, the four candidates vying for the Town Board each said during a relaxed and downright friendly debate within TBR News Media’s office that they want to reestablish a sense of bipartisanship and civility to politics, especially as they look to represent a way forward for Huntington in these uncertain times.

Candidates David Bennardo and Sal Ferro are running on the Republican and Conservative party lines, while Joseph Schramm and Jennifer Hebert have gained the nods of the Democratic and Working Families parties. With current council seats for Ed Smyth (R), who is running for  town supervisor, and Mark Cuthbertson (D), running for county legislator, their seats will be filled by two newcomers in 2022. 

Photo by Rita J. Egan

All candidates agreed that the rising cost of living on Long Island and Huntington is a major issue for everyone. Schramm, who lives in Northport, owns a sports marketing agency that includes high-end soccer clientele. He said he moved his business mostly remote, away from its old office in Manhattan and now bases it in Huntington. He said there are multiple businesses looking to move out from New York like his, and that this is an opportunity for the town to attract them to the North Shore. He would start a committee to specifically look at attracting businesses like other television and production companies.

Ferro, of Commack and the CEO of Alure Home Improvements, agreed that the town should attract new businesses, adding that Huntington has a lot to offer, whether it’s the Melville office corridor, a regional medical center, a large train station and access to the Hauppauge Industrial Park. The town can relay these opportunities by creating zoning where people want to develop.

“Why did Amazon go with Oyster Bay and not Huntington — it was more attractive,” Ferro said. “We’re not attractive, you have to become attractive.”

Bennardo, a Greenlawn resident, recently retired as the superintendent of South Huntington school district. He argued that the town would best be served with certain tax abatements, tax incentives and cutting red tape that restricts businesses from setting up shop, especially in the empty spaces that are already developed throughout the town. He referred to one example as the lengthy wait for pool permits, which not only hurts homeowners, but decreases the number of contracts for businesses who install those pools.

Hebert, who in the past was a nine-year school board member and president of Huntington school district, said she comes from a family of small business owners and that she agreed that there’s a need to support and welcome those large businesses into the town. As for the empty storefronts around town, she would gather experts in current business trends to see where the market is going and find which businesses will survive being in brick and mortar. At the same time, she argued there’s a need for the town to cut down on expenses and potentially hire a grant writer to analyze different new grant-based revenue streams. As well, the town could use an updated master plan.

“I think that Huntington has been going about this in a very haphazard way,” she said. “And, really, what we need is a plan that reflects what our community wants and what we have available for us to do in Huntington.”

Photo by Rita J. Egan

Ferro agreed but added that it’s better to find grant writers specialized in specific arenas like the environment. Further, he said that while COVID has posed a problem for some businesses, it has also proved a boon to some others. The recent closure of the venerable Book Revue in Huntington village was a big blow to the community. Regarding the issue of filling empty storefronts in the town, the home improvements CEO argued that a big problem is rent prices, especially in the village. He said the town needs to look at rent abatements and work with landlords to try and fill those empty storefronts.

Looking at the empty spaces in the Huntington train station parking lot shows that less people are commuting to the city for work, Schramm said. Instead, he argued the town should look at more shared office spaces for small businesses. 

“Let’s not stumble over what’s behind us,” the marketing agency owner said. “We have to reimagine our downtowns, but what we have is a huge new workforce that exists in our town. Let’s figure out a way to leverage it.”

Bennardo also confirmed his support for rent abatements for small businesses, especially since mom-and-pop shops make so little money for the first few years after opening. He said certain regulations, like those that restrict upstairs apartments, could be nixed to better facilitate 

“I don’t see any real thing wrong with using a part of your building for two or three apartments upstairs,” he said. “It’s really what’s going on across the country. They don’t put six-story buildings up, they don’t destroy the integrity of a neighborhood, you don’t even know they’re there.”

Recent reports by environmental groups on Long Island routinely report water quality issues with bays on the North Shore. Particularly the bays in Centerport and Cold Spring Harbor report dangerous lack of oxygen in the water, which has led in part to dangerous algae blooms. 

Photo by Rita J. Egan

Schramm said he would support dredging Northport Harbor, which he said would be “an expensive proposition, but it has a lot of environmental benefits,” especially regarding fish die-offs and hypoxia in the bay waters. Northport also has a bio-filtration FLUPSY program in the works, which will help preserve the oyster population and clean the harbor waterways, and he said he would like to see that expanded to other bays in the Town of Huntington. Other than the bays, Schramm said he would like to see town parks and facilities updated and improved to the same quality as neighboring townships.

Hebert agreed, and shared that she would like to deal with concerns of Centerport and Eaton’s Neck residents about beach erosion and crumbling seawalls. Especially important is getting everybody to sit around the table to confer, with Hebert adding that she doesn’t feel text or even Zoom meetings have facilitated the interactions that actually get things done.

Bennardo said additional issues remain with facilitating upland and downland drainage systems, and that there’s a need now to clean out those drainage systems before they leak into both the aquifer and the bays. The other issue remains cesspools, something all the candidates agreed were antiquated and need to be replaced where they can. “That’s not an area where we can let cost be an argument because it’s our drinking water,” he said. 

Ferro said there are millions of dollars in grant money available to aid in environmental remediation projects within the next several years, and it’s imperative that the town focuses on getting a piece of that pie. He agreed with the other candidates that oysters are a good option for cleaning out bays, adding that regarding the antiquated cesspools, promoting nitrogen-reducing systems where sewers won’t fit is also critical. 

Overall, the candidates confirmed their commitment to seeing a change in the way local government sees the people and, perhaps more introspectively, sees itself. Ferro said he’s more than used to working with electeds on both sides of the aisle. Schramm, as an openly gay man who lives with his life-partner Steve, said he would work toward a more inviting Huntington for everyone. “Our Town Hall needs to start having people provide sign language at Town Board meetings,” he said. “We need to include everybody in our community. We need to be a welcoming Town Hall.”

Around the table, among mutual compliments, Hebert put an emphasis on the need for compromise and a shared sense of consideration for each other. “I would say you have four people here who are representing exactly what you should do to restore trust and leadership,” she said.

Bennardo echoed the sentiment, adding, “We all want to win, but we’ve made a decision that you have to act like an adult. No good compromise ever happens when someone’s calling someone a socialist or Marxist or a fascist or any of that — it’s nonsense.”

Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon speaks during a media event at the Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Yaphank. File photo by Kevin Redding

Errol Toulon Jr. (D) is running again for his seat as the Suffolk County sheriff with the hope to continue his efforts providing aid services for nonviolent inmates alongside the office’s law enforcement work with gangs and sex trafficking. 

Toulon’s opponent, William Amato, who is running on the Republican ticket, did not respond to multiple requests for a debate with TBR staff. The Suffolk County GOP office confirmed Amato is not actively campaigning.

Toulon, who has cross-party endorsements from both the Suffolk Democratic and Conservative parties, said his job as head of his department is “to take the brunt of everything, good and bad. And during these real challenging times, I have to ask, ‘How do I keep my staff calm, how do I keep them safe, how do I feel like they’re still valued?’” And compared to his previous positions in corrections, his current job gives him a satisfaction he hasn’t had before.

“I have a job now that directly impacts the community that I live and work in,” he said.

The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office is the law enforcement branch dedicated to managing Suffolk’s jail system. Along with handling inmate populations, the office’s sheriff deputies are responsible for patrolling roadways alongside Suffolk County Police Department, investigating crimes committed on county property as well as managing the Pine Barrens protection hotline. The Sheriff’s Office also contains several specialized bureaus and sections for emergency management, DWI enforcement, domestic violence, among others.

Toulon, a former Rikers Island officer and captain, was voted into his first four-year term as sheriff in 2017 and was the first Black man elected to the role in the county’s history. Over those four years, his office has been involved with several high-profile drug and gang investigations, which included fact-finding trips to El Salvador and Los Angeles to investigate the connections of MS-13 to Long Island. He is proud of his office’s accomplishments, including his work with the office’s human trafficking unit and the creation of the START Resource Center, which provides inmates leaving county jails with employment and housing assistance as well as drug treatment and mental health care services.

But the year 2020 would throw a monkey wrench into all best-laid plans. Toulon said last year started out rough with the change to New York’s bail reform laws. Then the COVID-19 pandemic created a host of new challenges, especially safeguarding prison populations as well as corrections officers. 

During COVID’s height, officers kept inmates largely separated, which resulted in a minimal number of reported cases in Suffolk jails. Still, the year did have its share of tragedies, including the loss of Investigator Sgt. Keith Allison, a 25-year veteran of the office who died from issues relating to the virus in December. Recently, the Sheriff’s Office had to cancel its open house and family day due to staff shortages and the spread of the Delta variant. The sheriff’s website reports that, in September, 29 inmates tested positive for COVID, where 26 of those reportedly contracted the virus while in jail. Inmates are required to quarantine in a special housing pod for 14 days before being moved to general housing. Staff must take temperature checks and wear masks when coming into the facilities.

And all these extra protections have exacerbated current staffing shortages. Toulon said the Sheriff’s Office is currently down around 180 corrections officers and 43 sheriff’s deputies.

The recruitment struggle is one felt across many industries, law enforcement not excluded, though Toulon said his office has a uniquely difficult time getting people to apply, to have applicants pass the required tests and then to keep them on after they’ve had a taste of what can be a trying job at times. The challenge in recruiting is partially due to what he said has been a degradation of trust between law enforcement and the community since the start of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests. The Suffolk sheriff has also seen more senior officers retire because of health concerns during the pandemic, and because of COVID they were not able to host any new police classes last year. 

Though there are currently over 1,700 people who are ready to take the next law enforcement exam in November, the expected acceptance rate is normally around just 15% to 20%, Toulon said. This lack of staff also has the effect of increasing required overtime for current officers, leading to faster burnout. 

“Sometimes, even when you get through the entire process and they have their first days in a jail when they’re working a lot of overtime, having to deal with inmates … it becomes challenging on the individual, especially someone that’s not used to it,” the sheriff said.

It’s another stress on a system that he said requires more financial help to truly give aid to the transient, nonviolent jail populations who need it. Toulon would like to see more psychologists and psychiatrists within the jail providing counseling, though there’s currently no budget for it.

“The mental health institutions throughout New York state were closed in the 1980s or 1990s, and so these individuals are winding up in jail, but [state government] never funded the jails,” he said. “The staffing model for the Sheriff’s Office was really from a 1960s or ’70s version, and it hasn’t been updated to what we need to do to address the particular individuals in our custody.”

Though the sheriff said their new initiatives have not increased the office’s budget, he is still banging the drum for more funding. Suffolk County reportedly received approximately $286 million in aid from the federal American Rescue Plan back in May, though Toulon said they have not received any percentage of those funds. County spokesperson Derek Poppe said in an email that no ARP money is slated to go to the sheriff’s department.

Challenges still exist for Suffolk jails due to the pandemic. Corrections officers are still required to wear masks on their shifts. At the same time, only around 40% of corrections officers are currently vaccinated. There is no legal requirement for Suffolk law enforcement to be vaccinated in order to work, and while Toulon is fully vaccinated, he said he told his staff to consult their primary care physicians to make that determination.

“I understand it’s an individual’s choice at the moment,” he said. 

The number of people incarcerated in Suffolk jails hovers around 780, according to the sheriff, though that population is transient, and can change from day to day. The Sheriff’s Office, through the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, has tried to provide vaccinations for its inmates, leading to around 350 so far. Still, only approximately 30% to 40% of that jail population is currently vaccinated. “All we can do is just try to encourage the inmates to at least receive the vaccine — hopefully help them learn a little bit more if they’re a little skeptical before making that decision,” he said.

As for the future, the sheriff said he wants to work hard to make sure that the majority of the inmate population — all those who are nonviolent and not a danger to the community — receive the social services they need.

“Everybody should be held accountable for their actions, I should be very clear on that, and [incarceration] is necessary for those who would do harm to be removed from society,” Toulon said. “But those men and women that are going through domestic violence, substance abuse — we have many victims of human trafficking that are in our custody, many females that we’re working with — we want to help them, empower them so that they can support themselves and support their families.”

Photo by Rita J. Egan

Suffolk County Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) is running for reelection once again in the 13th Legislative District after taking his seat in 2014. Also on the ballot are Democrat Kevin Mulholland, who isn’t actively campaigning, and Michael Simonelli on the Conservative ticket. Simonelli didn’t respond to TBR News Media’s request to participate in the debate.

The 13th Legislative District includes Smithtown, Fort Salonga, Kings Park, San Remo, Nissequogue, Head of the Harbor and St. James, as well as portions of Commack and East Northport. The district is bounded by Route 25 to the south, Larkfield Road to the west, the Long Island Sound to the north and the Brookhaven town line to the east. 

Trotta said he wants to run again because he wants “to clean up.”

“I hate to say that I dwell on corruption, but I do,” the county legislator said. “I think you need someone like me who’s the thorn in the side to keep people straight because quite honestly they’re not straight.”

While fighting corruption may be at the forefront of his mind, Trotta said what he enjoys most about his position is helping his constituents, especially senior citizens, and acknowledging the good works of community members such as Eagle Scouts. 

Trotta said he takes exception with some of Simonelli’s campaign tactics where the Conservative candidate has called Trotta a “communist” and has said the county legislator wants to defund the police, which he said is not true at all. 

He said his opponent’s campaign is based on Simonelli being a police officer, but Trotta said his opponent has performed no police function in the last 10 years. Simonelli serves as treasurer of the Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association.

According to Simonelli’s campaign website, he is an active police officer in Suffolk and has been for 21 years. For nine of those years, he has also been a Suffolk PBA executive board member.

Suffolk County Police Department

Trotta, who was a SCPD officer for 25 years and on the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force for over 10, has been vocal about wasteful spending in the police department, but said he does not believe in defunding the police. His concern is about salaries, overtime and pensions. He said there are 16 people in the SCPD who taxpayers are paying $300,000 each a year even though they don’t perform an active police function and don’t go on calls.

He added this cost taxpayers millions each year and could be the equivalent of hiring 100 new officers. Trotta said he believes the police should be paid well, but increases shouldn’t be three times the cost of living. He said this has been done six out of eight years.

“How do you get that much in raises when [the county has] no money?” he said. “We borrowed $550 million from the pension fund, we drained the clean water fund for $250 million.”

He said he’s not against county police officers getting salary increases. 

“Just make it the cost of living,” he said, adding the police officers contract includes that if the cost of living goes up more than 5% they can reopen their contract.

“The roads and everything else suffers when you’re paying 2,300 people a third of your budget — a billion dollars,” Trotta said.

County budget 

Photo by Rita J. Egan

The 2022 county budget will have a surplus, and Trotta said it’s not the norm and is due to millions of federal aid, stimulus aid and unemployment supplement.

“I’m happy to see that the [Steve] Bellone administration (D) is actually going to pay down some of our debt with it,” he said.

But Trotta still has concerns as he said sales tax revenue was up 20% which led to millions of dollars, but the county is budgeting flat this year. He said no one can predict, though, if sales revenue would go down, and he said he would budget the same as in 2020.


Simonelli’s campaign is saying Trotta is against sewers but the county legislator said that couldn’t be further from the truth. Long Island Environmental Voters Forum recently endorsed him.

Recently, Trotta has been advocating for current Kings Park sewer district residents and businesses impacted by an expansion of the Kings Park sewage treatment plant to vote “yes” on Dec. 14 for sewers for Kings Park’s business district.

He is in favor of working toward ensuring that Smithtown’s Main Street and Lake Avenue in St. James also are hooked up to sewer systems in the future. 

Election law

One of Trotta’s biggest concerns is election law. He said the PBA collects $1 a day from every police officer and probation officer, and village department members in Amityville, Northport and Ocean Beach. While the departments can opt out of this, an individual police officer cannot.

He said state election law 17-156 is clear in stating “all campaign contributions must be voluntary.”

He said county District Attorney Tim Sini (D) benefits from this procedure with contributions around $500,000 and County Executive Bellone around a million dollars. Trotta said he has a problem with his opponent Simonelli being the treasurer of the PBA, and therefore being responsible for transferring the money.

The county legislator held a press conference about the matter on Oct. 21. (For the full story, see page A5)

Fighting corruption

Trotta said he’s not afraid of fighting corruption, and he knows he works for the taxpayers.

“I don’t respond well to people bullying me,” he said. 

Ray Tierney will run for Suffolk County district attorney this November on the Republican and Conservative tickets. Photo from Tierney’s office

A former Suffolk assistant DA is ready to take over the main seat in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office.

Ray Tierney, who will be running on the Republican and Conservative tickets Nov. 2 to challenge current DA Tim Sini (D), stopped by TBR News Media’s office last week to introduce himself and answer some questions about his campaign.

“When I talk about this contest, I say that it is a contest between the prosecutor and the politician, or when you look at my opponent’s record — what he’s done and what he’s claimed to have done, more accurately — it’s a contest between the prosecutor and the pretender,” Tierney said.


Tierney resides in the Town of Brookhaven with his wife, Erica, and their four children.

The prosecutor grew up in Commack and is a graduate of St. Anthony’s High School where he played football and was a member of the school’s track team. He went on to play football for Brown University where he graduated in 1988, and after taking a short time off from his studies, he attended St. John’s University’s School of Law.

He began his law career in the Suffolk County DA’s office under DA James Catterson (R).

“At first, I had a very sort of infantile concept of what it meant to be a lawyer,” Tierney said. “I always wanted to be a prosecutor. I always wanted to be in court. Although there’s so many things you could do, that’s all I really ever wanted to do, and as I got older, more sophisticated, my focus never changed.”

He decided to leave the DA’s office in 1999 when his first two children were born and worked for a private firm. Tierney said the tragic events of 9/11 changed his life. He was at a meeting in Queens when the attacks happened, and he watched the towers fall on TV.

“I was driving back out east and all the emergency vehicles were flooding into the city, and I could see the smoke and I was, like, ‘What am I doing with my life?’” he said. “This job that I have right now is inconsequential. So, I wanted to get back into public service.”

He returned to the DA’s office in 2002 during the time of Tom Spota (D) and worked there for another six years. Tierney said he decided to leave the office when he was told they may fire him for insubordination.

“They tried to get rid of me because I wouldn’t go along with their illegal, unethical ways,” he said. “I worked in an office whose job it was to uproot political corruption. But, instead, it was the office’s leadership that was corrupt, as history has proven.”

He then went on to work in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York as an assistant attorney for more than 11 years.

He left the office in 2019 to become an executive assistant district attorney in the Kings County District Attorney’s office where he was in charge of the violent criminal enterprises bureau, crime strategies unit and body worn camera unit.

In order to run for Suffolk County DA, Tierney had to leave the Brooklyn office and is currently Suffolk Regional Off-Track Betting Corp.’s chief counsel for compliance and enforcement.

His experience

During his time in Brooklyn, among his responsibilities, Tierney oversaw violent street gang investigations and prosecutions. He came to the position with extensive experience prosecuting MS-13 cases, which he said led to the incarceration of dozens of gang members.

One of the most high-profile MS-13 cases involved gang leaders Heriberto Martinez and Carlos Ortega. The two were found guilty for commissioning five murders in 2010, including Vanessa Argueta, 19, of Central Islip, and her son Diego Torres who was only 2 years old. Martinez and Ortega are currently serving life sentences. Tierney also tried Adalberto Guzman who was found guilty of killing the 2-year-old and is also serving a life sentence.

Tierney was the assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted Ed Mangano, former Nassau County Executive, and Mangano’s wife as well as former Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto for corruption in 2018.

In addition to gang violence and public corruption, he also has been a prosecutor on cases involving Colombian drug cartel, racketeering and white-collar crimes.

Issues with Sini

Tierney takes issue with the press releases sent out by the DA’s office. He said he feels a high percentage of the releases are about arrests and arraignments but not about sentencing.

“What he does, because he’s in show business, he has the glitzy arraignment, and this is the biggest, baddest, greatest case, and then you never hear what happens at the time of the sentence,” the candidate said.

Tierney added he could take any of Sini’s accomplishments and dissect them and show that the current DA is “a fraud” and is “looking for that initial blast of publicity.”

“You don’t get to decide where your next case comes from, the streets tell you where the next case is,” Tierney said. “So, if you have an investigation here but the violence is settled here, you put your resources here, you put your resources there.”

He gave an example that Sini convicted several MS-13 members on charges such as acts of conspiracy instead of murder or gun charges. He said Sini then turned the gang members on each other so they would testify against one another. The result was they each pled to lower charges and got out of jail.

Tierney said he would use overarching tactics such as conspiracy, but then tie the case to the murders committed and pull the case all together to ensure the murderers would serve jail time.

His campaign

Tierney said the job is a balance between law enforcement and fairness, and that will be his goal if elected. He added he has never aligned himself to one party and has prosecuted defendants on both sides of the political aisle. He is running to bring experience, integrity and independence to the office.

He said regarding the county and the Suffolk County Police Department, it’s important to work with them but also maintain independence from each other.

“When it comes to law enforcement, I make the decisions,” he said. “No one else makes the decisions. I support the county, I support the police department. But I don’t work for them when it comes to law enforcement, and I don’t excuse bad behavior.”