Town of Smithtown

Lil Bruno

LET’S TALK ABOUT BRUNO!

Lil Bruno

This week’s shelter pet is Lil Bruno, a two-year-old tabby available for adoption at the Smithtown Animal Shelter.

Sweet Lil Bruno was adopted from the shelter as a kitten and returned when his family fell on hard times. He is a quiet and laid-back guy that prefers a calm environment. Once he gets comfortable, he is affectionate and sweet. This poor boy is a little shell shocked to be back in the shelter; he needs a hero to rescue him. Will that be you?

If you would like to meet Lil Bruno, please call ahead to schedule an hour to properly interact with him in a domestic setting. The Smithtown Animal & Adoption Shelter is located at 410 Middle Country Road, Smithtown. Visitor hours are Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Sundays and Wednesday evenings by appointment only). For more information, call 631-360-7575 or visit www.townofsmithtownanimalshelter.com.

By Raymond Janis

Public officials, faith leaders and residents gathered at Smithtown Town Hall Monday night, Dec. 11, braving low temperatures and frequent gusts of wind for a menorah lighting ceremony.

Town Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) tied this year’s annual Hanukkah service to the ongoing geopolitical turmoil abroad and rising antisemitism in the United States.

“This year’s celebration is a commitment to our family, friends and neighbors,” he said. “It is a promise as we stand side by side to extinguish antisemitism as we light the night sky tonight, and we hope for peace both abroad and here at home.”

Rabbi Mendel Teldon of Chabad of Mid Suffolk presided over the prayer service. He thanked the strong show of community support during the ceremony, reflecting upon the example of the Maccabees in the face of religious persecution in Israel and America.

“In Smithtown, we are asked to step up to the plate,” the rabbi said. “Even when there’s opposition, even when there are values that oppose our own and people that will shout us down, a Macabee steps up to the plate.”

Following a blessing from the rabbi and a ceremonial lighting of the menorah, the attendees were greeted with latkes and donuts in the parking lot.

File photo by Raymond Janis

By Raymond Janis

During its Thursday, Nov. 16, meeting, the Smithtown Town Board approved two code amendments. It also held a public hearing on its 2024 community development program.

Assistant town attorney Janice Hansen explained the first code amendment, including stricter noise violation penalties. The amendment increases the fine for first-time violators of Chapter 207, entitled “Noise,” from $250 to $500. The penalties for second- and third-or-more-offense noise violations go up from $500 to $1,000 and $1,000 to $1,500, respectively. Hansen said the town may enforce the noise code in residential and commercial areas.

Following no public comments, the board unanimously adopted the amendment.

The second proposed code change involved an addition to Chapter 221, the town’s property maintenance code. Hansen said the new section, “Post-disaster debris collection,” empowers the town to move more swiftly during emergencies.

The amendment authorizes the town to “enter upon and remove debris from public and private roads, right-of-way, storm drainage easements and ingress/egress easements within town limits,” the statute said, “including private communities, private properties, utilities and/or infrastructure impoundments and/or containments for the purposes of emergency vehicle travel, stormwater conveyance, protecting public health and safety, facilitating response and recovery operations, and for any other purpose the Town Emergency Manager or designee determines is necessary to remove an immediate threat to life, public health and safety, significant damage to improved public and private property, and the economic recovery of the town.”

Hansen said that to enter private property, the town must first obtain consent from the property owner through a right-of-entry permit. Following no comments from the public, the board adopted the resolution unanimously.

The board considered the town’s 2024 community development program during the final public hearing. The municipality anticipates receiving roughly $211,000 through federal Community Development Block Grant programs, according to a public notice.

The grant funds, made available by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, are intended to support “infrastructure, economic development projects, public facilities installation, community centers, housing rehabilitation, public services, clearance/acquisition, microenterprise assistance, code enforcement and homeowner assistance,” the HUD website indicates.

Kelly Brown, housing rehabilitation administrator for the town’s Planning & Community Development Department, presented the aims of the 2024 program. She said projects under consideration must fulfill two conditions.

“Every project must qualify as a designated eligible activity, such as housing rehabilitation, infrastructure improvement or handicapped access improvements,” she said, adding, “Every project must meet one of three specifically defined CD program objectives,” which are benefiting people of low-to-moderate income, prevention or elimination of blighting conditions or meeting an urgent community need, such as storm damage cleanup.

To watch the full meeting, including the consent agenda and board resolutions, visit www.smithtownny.gov/226/town-meetings.

File photo by Raymond Janis

By Raymond Janis

During a general meeting at Town Hall, the Smithtown Town Board adopted its annual budget totaling $129.6 million for 2024 Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 7.

Spending increased 2.76%, with the average homeowner to see a roughly $30 tax increase in the year ahead. 2024 road program funding remains consistent with previous years, with the town investing $5.2 million for roadway improvements. And the fee for residential solid waste will increase by $10.

For a detailed report of the various FY24 appropriations, visit the town website.

Land use

The board approved the site plan for the property at the northeast corner of Lake Avenue and Woodlawn Avenue in St. James.

The board approved the site plan for a new 7-Eleven on the property, subject to eight conditions. Peter Hans, the town’s planning director, outlined the various conditions, which include proper permitting, fencing and preservation of existing vegetation and a provision for a site plan addendum application for modification to the proposed architecture, among other criteria.

“The proposal is to demolish the existing bank building that’s on the property and replace it with a new 7-Eleven building that’s slightly larger than the existing building in roughly the same location,” Hans said.

Another condition will be prohibiting the sale of vape and hookah products at the location. Hans noted that the property owners are complying with the conditions. Following the presentation, the Town Board approved the new 7-Eleven site plan.

Enforcement proceedings

The board also heard two public hearings to consider separate entries onto two properties. Martin Simon, assistant town attorney, presented photographs of the conditions at 422 Lake Ave. S. in Nesconset.

“There’s been a constant accumulation of junk, rubbish and debris at the site,” Simon said. “An attempt was made by the homeowner in early September to mow the grass, but that’s about as far as she got. Since then, there’s been no progress.”

Following the hearing, the board agreed to let the town enter the property to remove and remediate the rubbish, debris, tall grass, weeds and overgrown vegetation on-site.

In a separate hearing, the board considered entering the property of 769 Middle Country Road in St. James to remove an “unsafe structure” on the property. Following a discussion with counsel representing the property owner, the board agreed not to enter the property for now.

Dog park

During the public comment period, multiple residents expressed concerns with the town-operated dog park behind The Smithtown Library.

Resident Anne Hoffman referred to the conditions at the dog park as “in such disrepair, it’s almost dangerous to go there.”

Following the commentary regarding the complex, Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) advised the concerned residents that he would arrange a meeting with them to discuss future remediation.

The Town Board will meet again on Thursday, Nov. 16, with scheduled public hearings to amend sections of the Town Code related to noise and property maintenance.

Romaine's win continues rightward political shift in the county

Suffolk County Executive-elect Ed Romaine delivers his victory speech at Stereo Garden in Patchogue Tuesday night, Nov. 7. Photo by Raymond Janis

By Raymond Janis and Aidan Johnson

As returns came in Tuesday night, Nov. 7, electricity pulsed through Suffolk GOP headquarters. 

Republicans flipped the Suffolk County executive’s seat for the first time in two decades, with Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine cruising to victory over his Democratic opponent, businessman Dave Calone, by a 57-43% margin as of Wednesday morning.

“Thank you, Suffolk,” the county executive-elect told the audience assembled at Stereo Garden in Patchogue. “You’ve given me a large mandate tonight — you’ve crushed it.” 

“And we’re going to use that mandate to move this county forward,” he added.

Calone concedes, county executive transition commences

At the Democratic headquarters in Holtsville, Suffolk County Democratic Committee chairman and Town of Babylon supervisor, Rich Schaffer, addressed the deflated crowd as the results started to come in.

“Obviously, we would have wanted to be on the winning side tonight, but we know that what we are up against is not only the atmosphere created out of Albany, the atmosphere that’s created out of Washington, and that has hurt us here as a brand in Suffolk County,” he said.

In his concession speech, Calone thanked his family, team, running mates and outgoing county executive Steve Bellone (D), along with his supporters.

“I want to thank the people of Suffolk County for the last year, for the chance to visit with you, your families from one end of this county to the other,” he said. “And I am so proud of the ticket we put together.”

“I promise to continue working with all of you as we move and push meaningful solutions that affect the lives of the people of Suffolk County,” Calone added.

Bellone congratulated Romaine on his victory, pledging to do “everything I can to assist the new county executive-elect and his administration.”

“I am committed to ensuring a seamless transition and handover of responsibilities to the new administration beginning on Jan. 1,” he said in a statement. “To that end, I have asked Chief Deputy County Executive Lisa Black to lead our administration’s efforts to coordinate with the incoming administration.”

Republicans expand county Legislature majority

Romaine’s victory was fortified by steady gains in the county Legislature.

Chad Lennon (R-Rocky Point) flipped the county’s 6th Legislative District, besting Dorothy Cavalier (D-Mount Sinai) 61-39% in the race to succeed termed-out Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai).

“I would not be here today without you,” Lennon told the audience. “Thank you for entrusting me. I’m looking forward to a successful two years.”

Majority Leader Nick Caracappa (C-Selden) won reelection in the 4th District over Timothy Hall 64-36%. Additionally, incumbent Legislator Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset) cruised to reelection with 69% of the vote in the 12th District. And Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) won his uncontested race in the 13th District with over 99% of the vote.

In Huntington, incumbent Legislator Stephanie Bontempi (R-Centerport) narrowly defeated her Democratic Party challenger Dr. Eve Meltzer-Krief, of Centerport, 53-47% in the 18th District.

Former state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) defeated Anthony Figliola (R-East Setauket) 53-47%, winning the 5th District seat left vacant by Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket).

“I’m looking forward to working on the environmental issues that are tied to the economy, such as tourism, and we really have a chance with the people who are being elected here tonight to make a difference going forward in the county Legislature,” Englebright said, before all of the final results had come in.

According to the unofficial results, the Republicans gained one seat in the county Legislature, giving the party a veto-proof 12-6 supermajority.

Town-level victories

The GOP racked up considerable victories across the towns of Brookhaven, Smithtown and Huntington.

In the race to succeed Romaine as supervisor of the county’s largest township, Brookhaven Deputy Supervisor Dan Panico (R) defeated SUNY Old Westbury professor Lillian Clayman (D) 62-38%.

“We know what our mandate is,” the supervisor-elect said. “We are going to govern correctly. We are going to be bold in our initiatives. This is a new day in the Town of Brookhaven, and I am proud to be the supervisor.”

Panico pledged to redirect the focus of the town government toward traditionally nonconservative areas, adding, “We are going to make major inroads throughout this entire town.”

Alongside Panico, Republicans held onto their 5-1 majority on the Town Board. Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) and Councilman Neil Manzella (R-Selden) were both reelected carrying 65% of the votes in their districts.

Incumbent Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) retained his seat with a 55-45% margin of victory over Republican challenger Gary Bodenburg.

“For the past three years, I have worked hard to represent the more than 80,000 residents of Three Village, Port Jefferson village, Port Jefferson Station and Terryville, and last night the community hired me to serve another term,” Kornreich said in a statement.

“I love this community and promise to keep showing up for them day in and day out, celebrating our successes and sharing our challenges,” he added.

Brookhaven voters also reelected incumbent Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) and Receiver of Taxes Louis Marcoccia (R) with 62% and 63%, respectively.

Republicans swept each townwide race in Smithtown. Town clerk candidate Tom McCarthy — not the incumbent town councilman — cruised to victory over Bill Holst (D) carrying 65% of the townwide vote. Incumbent Smithtown Receiver of Taxes Deanna Varricchio (R) retained her seat by a 2-1 margin of victory over challenger Amy Fortunato (D). For Town Board, incumbent town Councilman Thomas Lohmann (R) and Councilwoman Lisa Inzerillo (R) each carried 33% of the vote over Democratic challengers Maria Scheuring and Sarah Tully.

In Huntington, Republicans expanded their majority on the Town Board to a sweeping 5-0, if the unofficial results hold. In an extremely close four-way contest, Republican candidates Brooke Lupinacci and Theresa Mari edged their Democratic counterparts Jen Hebert and Don McKay. Lupinacci and Mari received 25.5% and 25.4% of the vote respectively to Hebert’s and McKay’s 25% and 23.9% share respectively.

Incumbent Receiver of Taxes Jillian Guthman (D) was reelected over Pamela Velastegui (R) 53-47%, and incumbent Town Clerk Andrew Raia (R) won reelection over Linda Davis Valdez (D) 57-43%.

Callahan Beach. Photo from Town of Smithtown
Callahan Beach. Photo from Town of Smithtown

Callahan’s Beach in Fort Salonga has now reopened to Smithtown residents. The announcement was made in a press release on Nov. 7. Major infrastructure repairs were necessary after the seawall collapsed as a result of Tropical Depression Ida and a second storm which caused further damage shortly after. All new drainage infrastructure was installed, along with the total reconstruction of the seawall. The stairs have been rebuilt, with platforms in between stories. The bluff had to be completely rehabilitated and features rows of plantings. All new walkways, curbing, and asphalt have also been completely paved.

“Callahan’s Beach is absolutely stunning. People have been walking the beach and commenting all day about how gorgeous of a job the Town did. I’d like to personally thank the Parks Department, Jim Longworth, Pioneer Asphalt, Hayduk Engineering, and our Department of Environment and Waterways, who worked with DEC to get the permit process moving. This was a massive undertaking. One that was met with obstacles like supply chain issues, and red tape. However, the incredible amount of teamwork involved solidified a beautiful end result… one that Smithtown residents will enjoy for years to come,” said Smithtown Town Supervisor Ed Wehrheim.

The facility will remain open to the public, while the Parks Department will begin constructing a new playground and pickle ball courts at Callahan’s Beach. Construction work on the playground and pickleball areas will be contained so that public access will not be interrupted.

Smithtown town clerk candidates Tom McCarthy, left, and Bill Holst debate the issues facing the office. Photos by Raymond Janis

Former Smithtown Town Clerk Vincent Puleo (R) got a promotion last November when county voters elected him as Suffolk County clerk after 16 years in the Smithtown Town Clerk’s Office.

The vacancy Puleo left behind in January has remained unfilled ever since. Now, for the first time in nearly two decades, town residents will choose his successor.

Stepping forward for the role are Bill Holst (D) and Tom McCarthy (R). McCarthy is not the same person as incumbent town Councilman Thomas J. McCarthy (R).

Holst has served in various public service roles throughout his professional career. He was an assistant town attorney in Smithtown and Central Islip. He was appointed as Suffolk County clerk by former Gov. Mario Cuomo (D) until losing that post in an election against then-county Legislator Ed Romaine (R).

“By and large, I enjoy public service,” Holst said. “I think there’s an opportunity, since the town clerk’s position has been vacant since January, to improve the dialogue” within town government.

McCarthy hails from the security sector, where he worked in various management roles and specialized in investigations, executive protection and security aberrations.

“It’s not about politics. It’s about service,” he said. “I was responsible for all aspects of managing a multimillion-dollar profit center in addition to overseeing all the security operations. I have skill sets in administration, finance, operations, client services and HR,” adding that he intends to leverage this private-sector background for Smithtown residents.

Role of the clerk

In outlining what he views as the principal responsibilities of the town clerk, McCarthy referred to the position as “a forward-facing client service office” that also serves as secretary to the Town Board.

“We provide licenses that protect people, property and the environment,” he said. “The town clerk provides permits for people to make a living lawfully. We touch people’s lives at very tender moments — birth, marriage.”

He emphasized that the town clerk is not a policymaker but a service provider. “What it’s about is transparency, security of the records and providing those services to our people,” McCarthy said.

Holst referred to the clerk’s office as “the gateway to the town.” He emphasized that the position has been vacant since January, with the deputy clerks having kept the office running since that time.

“I think that if the people in the existing office can run the office without anyone being appointed, then the person who is running should be able to justify what they’re bringing,” he said. “I’m bringing years of experience as an assistant town attorney, a county attorney and the chief legal officer of the City of Long Beach, where I was involved with things like land use.”

While the clerk may fall outside the political functions overseen by the Town Board, Holst said the clerk’s role is to “make them reach higher on behalf of the taxpayers.”

Cybersecurity

In light of last year’s cyberattack against the Suffolk County government, a ransomware event crippling the county government’s IT infrastructure for months and compromising residents’ sensitive information, both candidates were asked how they would fortify the town’s network, keeping sensitive records safe.

Holst said overseeing the system’s passwords would be a necessary deterrent while coordinating closely with town IT personnel. “I think that in terms of the security matters, it all has to be done with the town’s IT department,” he said.

McCarthy cited deterrence, detection and response as the “three pillars of cybersecurity.” He noted that the human element is generally the weakest link within any cybersecurity program.

“The biggest part is training and enabling your people, creating an environment where they can be excellent,” he said.

Resident access

As a service provider within town government, the clerk frequently interacts with constituents. McCarthy touted the accessibility of the office as it stands today.

“We want the experience to be welcoming,” the Republican candidate said. “We want 100 percent customer satisfaction. You can do that by providing an environment where your team can reach excellence, and they can produce and provide a service to the public.”

Holst contended that the real value of the clerk’s position comes from maximizing its service functions as outlined under the code. “Even with Freedom of Information Act [requests] … the Town Code talks about how documents can be made through the Town Clerk’s Office,” he indicated.

Staffing

Currently, there are two appointed deputy clerk positions within the office, with the others being civil service positions. When asked for the principles that would guide personnel matters, Holst said his past experience working alongside civil service officials would be an asset.

“I had a lot of dealings with labor issues, and I definitely respect anyone who’s in the civil service,” he said.

McCarthy said his private-sector background has guided his approach to personnel hires. He emphasized finding staff who are enthusiastic about providing a service and adding value to others.

“One of the things you want is someone who enjoys people, has the personality and the intelligence to learn and a dedication to do customer service,” he said. “Those are the skills you look for.”

Open government

When asked how they would promote open government within the office and bring residents closer to town government, McCarthy emphasized the value of transparency. “From the outside looking in, I see a functional office,” he said. “If you just get on the website, you can get just about any information you want.” He also promoted maintaining an open-door policy.

Holst said the clerk could advocate for promoting the Public Officers and Open Meetings laws. “I don’t think the Open Meetings law is being followed,” he said. “Although I can’t force [the Town Board] to do something, I can certainly raise the issue.”

Smithtown voters will choose one of these two candidates on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

TBR News Media published its endorsements in the Nov. 2 editions of our papers, which run from Wading River in the Town of Brookhaven to Cold Spring Harbor in Huntington along the North Shore. As always, these are only our opinions, and we urge you to learn about the candidates and make your own decisions as to whom you will give your vote. We merely share our impressions with you, feeling it our duty since we have personally interviewed them.

Romaine is what county government needs

Ed Romaine

Suffolk County is staring down trouble, and it will take strong leadership to lift us from this rut.

Our ancient wastewater infrastructure is deteriorating rapidly, prompting urgent, countywide planning and intervention. The Brookhaven Town landfill, which serves our entire region, is set to close, triggering potentially a regional garbage crisis.

Seniors and young people are fleeing our region, forming a vacuum of local leaders and depleting our up-and-coming workforce. And financial projections for our county government paint a bleak picture in the years ahead.

To confront all of these challenges, our residents will select a new Suffolk County executive this November. For this role, we need someone with the political tact to guide 18 legislators toward tangible policy outcomes. This moment requires urgent action, and given the choice of who best can steer this teetering ship, we believe Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) will rise to the occasion.

Our county government is a vast, complex bureaucracy. Bringing order to this labyrinthine system will require someone with a firm grasp on the inner workings of government. Romaine is a consummate politician, someone who has lived and breathed politics for the better part of a lifetime. It is now time for him to apply that lifetime of political experience toward fixing our broken county system and improving our collective quality of life.

At the same time as this year’s county election, we are deeply aware of the growing concentration of power and political influence forming within the Suffolk County Republican Committee. We hope that if he is elected, Romaine will stand up to the power brokers within his party ranks, that he will not put party interest over the public good. We challenge Romaine to stay true to the aspirations of his campaign, and we pledge to hold him accountable if he backs down from his word.

Romaine’s opponent, Dave Calone, is a good man with the interests of county residents at heart. We believe that Calone has the makings of an effective public official and we encourage him to throw his hat in the ring again soon.

But for his experience, proven record and knowledge of the system, TBR News Media endorses Ed Romaine for our county’s highest post.

Panico will provide needed reform for Brookhaven town government

Dan Panico

The Town of Brookhaven faces many challenges in the years ahead, and meeting this moment demands bold leadership and vision within the Town Supervisor’s Office.

The chief executive of the municipality must be an advocate for the people, someone guided by core values and who will not be beholden to party bosses, land developers or union leaders. We believe Deputy Supervisor Dan Panico fits this description.

In our office debate, Panico impressed us as well-informed with the inner workings of town government. With land use determinations being the central function of local government, we believe Panico can leverage his vast knowledge of this area to advance resident interests effectively.

Throughout the TBR News Media coverage area, major plans are currently on the drawing board. From Three Village to Port Jeff Station to Middle Country, our residents are eager for sewers to come into their communities, with expanded sewer access to bring about real transformation and revitalization.

But with increased sewer capacity comes the potential for over densification and sprawl. We need someone in the supervisor’s office who understands the levers of government and land use and who can pull them appropriately to advance our local interests.

The function of the Brookhaven Town Board is to serve the public, guiding developers and awarding contracts in a manner that serves the public good rather than advancing the private interests of developers and unions.

We believe Panico is properly suited to make those decisions. He assured us that he is not beholden to any outside interest group, and we hope he stands by his word if elected.

Panico’s opponent, Lillian Clayman, did a tremendous service by stepping forward in this race after an unforeseen illness eliminated  the previous Democratic candidate, Margot Garant. Through Clayman’s candidacy, she has raised public awareness around several important topics, such as the town’s landfill and animal shelter, while identifying other areas for improvement.

We thank Clayman for keeping the democratic process alive and well and for offering a powerful counterbalance throughout the campaign. Win or lose, her efforts will go a long way to help reform this town government.

But we believe Panico is the right person to enact those reforms in office. In this year’s race for Brookhaven Town supervisor, he has our endorsement.

Kaplan would put service first as Brookhaven highway superintendent

Michael Kaplan

As Election Day quickly approaches, Brookhaven residents will have an important decision before them about who they want overseeing their town highways. 

Incumbent Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) has undoubtedly proven to be a capable leader of the Highway Department, with accomplishments such as securing multiple multimillion dollar grants for Brookhaven projects.

However, Losquadro’s opponent, Michael Kaplan (D), proved that he would put his position over politics and party affiliation. We believe that kind of messaging is highly appealing amid these turbulent times.

During our office debate with the two candidates, Kaplan displayed a true gentleman’s nature, praising Losquadro for the work that he has done for Brookhaven residents while politely establishing areas of disagreement. Kaplan refused to engage in any form of unnecessary attack against Losquadro, instead tactfully debating the substance of the job.

Kaplan’s eagerness to use a hands-on approach to lead the office is warmly received, and it is clear that his past positions in highway departments (and the U.S. Army) have shaped his style of thinking and way of approaching complex problems.

In the end, we firmly believe that Kaplan will listen to the needs of the residents, and will fulfill his duty wholeheartedly. While Brookhaven is a geographically massive township, it needs leaders with a “small-town mentality.” That kind of resident-centric, hands-on focus is sorely needed to meet this moment.

For these reasons, TBR News Media endorses Michael Kaplan’s bid for the position of Brookhaven Superintendent of Highways.

Englebright’s record speaks for itself

 

Steve Englebright

On this November’s ballot, voters will decide between two very different kinds of candidates for Suffolk County’s 5th Legislative District.

Given the passion and sincere convictions of both candidates, the decision to endorse was close. But given the choice of only one candidate, we believe former New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) has the political experience and impressive connections to advocate most effectively for 5th District residents.

If elected, Englebright would bring a lifetime of political experience with him into the county Legislature. He had already served in that capacity from 1983-92, followed by three decades in the state Assembly. Also a geologist by training, Englebright’s expertise on environmental sustainability — coupled with his sustained commitment to protecting our groundwater and surface waters, preserving open space and preparing our community for a sustainable future — make him the right choice to meet the growing environmental needs within our county. With simultaneous wastewater and garbage crises brewing along our county’s horizon, we need a firm environmental voice in the county Legislature.

In securing public investment into the 5th Legislative District, we know Englebright will help bring home its fair share and then some. Throughout his political entire career, he has done so repeatedly. With a wealth of experience and connections behind him, Englebright is prepared to leverage those assets to benefit this community.

Anthony Figliola, Englebright’s Republican Party opponent, has good ideas and passion that would be of service to 5th District residents. We hope that he stays involved in the political process.

But this year’s county election is about experience and proven leadership. Because Steve Englebright uniquely possesses those experiences, he has earned our endorsement to represent the 5th Legislative District.

Kornreich is a champion for Council District 1

Jonathan Kornreich

One of the great civic victories in the Town of Brookhaven’s recent political history was the institution of the councilmanic system.

This system created six separate council districts, each with one representative on the Town Board. The principal fruit of this civic effort has been Council District 1, a traditionally Democratic council district whose representative serves as a valuable check against the Republican Party stronghold in town government.

Since entering the Town Board via special election in 2021, incumbent Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) has been a forceful advocate on behalf of his constituents. Through his efforts, real progress has been made, with tangible policy wins for the people of his district.

Look no further than Port Jefferson Station, a place where a homegrown local renaissance is currently underway. Thanks to Kornreich’s advocacy work, that hamlet’s Train Car Park has become a central community hub. And with the proposed redevelopment of Jefferson Plaza on Route 112, we believe Kornreich will help create a vibrant, traditional downtown feel along that corridor.

During our office debate with the CD1 candidates, we were struck by Kornreich’s depth of expertise in the areas where town government is most central: land use. His private-sector background and his civic leadership within the Three Village Civic Association uniquely qualify him for this kind of work.

We also notice and greatly appreciate the considerable efforts he takes to be present for his constituents. Whether at civic associations, chambers of commerce or other local events, Kornreich always seems to be there and engaged. These frequent interactions between the representative and his constituents are instrumental in identifying and advancing the local interest.

As journalists, access to public officials is crucial for properly informing our readers. Whenever we request a comment from Kornreich, he is quick to offer his insight and perspective. This is an important public service, assisting the local press in informing the public and fostering  democracy. We encourage Kornreich to continue contributing op-eds to our newspapers, which help keep our readers up to speed on his work in town government.

Evidenced by his presence and actions, Kornreich is an effective ambassador for his district. It is undeniable that he cares deeply for this community and leverages his experience and skills to make this area a better place.

If reelected, we remind Kornreich that his position — while determined by CD1 voters — has townwide implications. As the lone elected Democrat in town government, residents across the entire town look to him for guidance and leadership. After all, the formation of CD1 was the consequence of a townwide civic effort.

For this reason, we were disappointed by Kornreich’s “yes” vote for the adopted map in last year’s redistricting process — a vote negatively impacting the historically underrepresented communities of Gordon Heights and North Bellport in Council District 4. But while Kornreich’s redistricting vote was a mistake, we believe in his capacity for growth and remind him to let the light of conscience and good will guide similar votes down the road.

We found Kornreich’s opponent, Gary Bodenburg, to be a likable and sincere person. We admire and respect his advocacy work for disadvantaged youth, and we believe his time is most valuably spent if he continues in that capacity.

But this election cycle, the choice is clear. TBR News Media strongly endorses Jonathan Kornreich’s reelection campaign for Brookhaven’s 1st Council District.

Marcoccia is a dutiful department head

Louis Marcoccia

Unlike the other races, the Town of Brookhaven Receiver of Taxes race isn’t exactly competitive, with the democratic candidate Tricia L. Chiaramonte not running an active campaign. However, as incumbent Lou Marcoccia (R) offers a high quality choice. 

Marcoccia’s dedication to serving his constituents cannot be underestimated. He has made it clear that he truly wants to help the residents of Brookhaven in ways such as allowing them to turn in their taxes after the office has closed on the last day possible, and not charging them a hefty late fee. He doesn’t have to do this, but he chooses to, which shows his true character. 

He does not concern himself with party politics, but rather sticks to being a good leader and superb manager, very rarely raising his voice. His strive for accessibility is admirable, as there are many times when the blind and deaf community have to fight for basic accommodations. 

However, Marcoccia makes sure to offer an inclusive environment. TBR News Media looks forward to another term served for Lou Marcoccia as the Brookhaven Receiver of Taxes and endorse his campaign for reelection.

Cavalier will bring continuity to the 6th Legislative District

Dorothy Cavalier

Due to county term limits, incumbent Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) cannot seek reelection, creating an open contest for the 6th Legislative District for the first time in over a decade.

To succeed Anker, two well-qualified attorneys have stepped forward. During our office debate with Dorothy Cavalier (D-Mount Sinai) and Chad Lennon (R-Rocky Point), we were struck by their shared knowledge of the law and familiarity with their community.

It’s unfortunate that only one of these candidates will be selected this November because we believe each has a unique set of ideas for guiding our county in a positive direction. But like the voters, we can only endorse one. And while the decision was close, TBR News Media supports Cavalier this November.

If elected, Cavalier will bring with her a wealth of legal knowledge to the county Legislature. Given her experience as Anker’s chief of staff, she has a firm grasp of the issues at stake and a rooted understanding of the challenges facing 6th District residents.

Cavalier’s boss has been a positive force during her time in county government, working across the aisle to attain cross-partisan appeal. We believe Cavalier seeks to continue the work Anker has started.

During our debate, Lennon demonstrated an enthusiasm and dedication we deeply respect. His interest in veteran issues especially moved us. Given his combat experiences and his evident passion for his fellow service members, we believe Lennon is ideally suited to chair the county’s Veteran Services Committee if elected this November.

The only variable that brought Lennon down a notch in our eyes was his tenure on the Town of Brookhaven’s controversial redistricting committee last year, resulting in a botched process and a gerrymandered map. We wish cooler heads could have prevailed within that committee and remind Lennon he must be an independent voice for 6th District constituents capable of bucking his party when necessary.

To represent the communities across northern Brookhaven, our staff endorses Dorothy Cavalier for Suffolk’s 6th Legislative District.

Bonner is an ambassador for Brookhaven’s 2nd District

Jane Bonner

In the race for Brookhaven’s 2nd Council District, which covers the northeastern hamlets from Mount Sinai to Wading River and a large chunk of Coram, residents are weighing various quality-of-life concerns.

Seniors and young people are becoming increasingly priced out of the region. Commercial districts, such as those along state Routes 25 and 25A, are struggling post-pandemic. And the town government is staring down a sizable loss of public revenue due to the planned closure of the Brookhaven Town landfill.

To meet this moment, Brookhaven requires experienced, knowledgeable public servants in office. Given her track record, we believe incumbent Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) will rise to the occasion.

Bonner’s commitment to the 2nd Council District is undeniable. She has served in this capacity for well over a decade, and her continual reelection suggests that her policies are registering with voters.

We also appreciate Bonner’s continued presence within the community. While covering local events, we often bump into the councilwoman. Making frequent public appearances is critical for connecting with the public and advocating on their behalf in town government. Bonner has done just that.

Bonner’s challenger this election cycle, Carol Russell (D-Coram), has some good ideas and has demonstrated an interest in serving her community. If elected, we believe Russell would be a positive force within the Town Board. We hope she stays involved in the community, regardless of the outcome.

But given a choice, we will stand by the incumbent for this election. Bonner has our endorsement for Brookhaven’s 2nd Council District.

Caracappa will show up for 4th District residents

Nick Caracappa

Uncontested elections are all too familiar in Suffolk County, evidenced by the current race for Suffolk County’s 4th Legislative District.

Incumbent Legislator Nick Caracappa (C-Selden) is running virtually uncontested, his Democratic Party challenger Timothy Hall a candidate on paper only. Hall is not running an open campaign and declined to attend an office debate with the incumbent.

Our staff would have appreciated a spirited discussion on the issues. The 4th District has many challenges ahead, from limiting overdevelopment along Middle Country Road to expanding housing options for seniors and young people to addressing the plight of homelessness within the district.

In this race, only one candidate is willing to offer any ideas or potential solutions. Caracappa has thought through the many issues facing his constituents and is determined to address the quality of life needs within the area.

We appreciate Caracappa’s willingness to serve, advocate for his community and make the Greater Middle Country area a better place to live. For showing up for the people of his community, TBR News Media endorses his reelection campaign this November.

In the meantime, we are deeply distressed by and strongly condemn the tendency of the Suffolk County Democratic Committee to sacrifice races to their opposition. Holding contested elections should not be a calculation of cost or likelihood of victory. Having two viable candidates debate the issues is a universal good for our local deliberative process.

We ask that Suffolk Democrats radically rethink their current political strategy. They are bleeding seats across all levels of local government precisely because of their unwillingness to debate the issues and run contested campaigns. Our democracy depends upon a functional two-party system. We hope to have one again in elections to come.

Leslie Kennedy is a compassionate voice for Suffolk’s 12th District

Leslie Kennedy

Leslie Kennedy has served as legislator of Suffolk County’s 12th District for the last eight years and is seeking another term.

Within her work as a legislator, she is recognized for her focus on constituent services, showing compassion for those needing aid and assistance. She serves as a voice for the district’s residents.

As a result of the recent county redistricting, District 12 now includes more low-income residents, a cohort she seeks to help.

Kennedy is often recognized for her compassion for helping those within the elderly community, most often those economically disadvantaged. In an interview with TBR News Media, she shared a story detailing her experience with seniors, typically women, who cannot afford retired life based on the Social Security stipend they receive. She touched upon her work connecting seniors to food pantries, accessible transportation and affordable housing options.

She has also voiced her views on one of the most significant issues this election cycle, Suffolk County’s wastewater infrastructure and the proposed sales-tax referendum accompanying it. Kennedy voted against the referendum to enhance the existing infrastructure by instituting a 1/8% sales tax increase due to her expectations for a future plan including a more well-thought-out and effective revenue split between sewers and Advanced/Innovative septic systems.

Kennedy is a major proponent of open-space preservation, with efforts to combat the ever-growing development slowly engulfing Suffolk County. She continuously expressed concerns and the need for adequate legislation for young people and families seeking life on Long Island who are increasingly unable to afford it.

If elected, Kennedy plans to continue her important work serving the residents of her district. Her opponent, Democratic candidate Denis Graziano, is not actively campaigning. TBR News Media endorses Kennedy’s reelection campaign.

McCarthy will do the job of Smithtown town clerk

Tom McCarthy

To fill the vacancy left behind by former Smithtown Town Clerk Vincent Puleo (R), who vacated the post in January when he assumed the Suffolk County clerkship, Smithtown voters are faced with two candidates with starkly different outlooks on the office’s role within town government.

On the one hand, candidate Bill Holst (D) brings a wealth of public-sector background and civic energy to this campaign. During our office debate, he advocated for a more assertive clerk to help steer the Town Board toward better policy outcomes.

On the other hand, Tom McCarthy (R) — not the town councilman — has a private-sector background that qualifies him for the demands of the office. Given the growing fears over cybersecurity both locally and more broadly, McCarthy’s experience in the security sector could be a major asset for town government.

But given the pick of only one candidate, the choice seemed clear. While we admired Holst’s drive, McCarthy seemed genuinely interested in the position.

There is nothing sexy about record keeping. Serving as recording secretary during Town Board meetings does not conjure ideas of political intrigue either. Yet this position is an elective office because it’s quite important for the operations of government.

We believe Smithtown residents deserve a clerk who is engaged by the office. An effective town clerk must be 100% dialed in. As evidenced by last year’s cyberattack against the county, when officials are not fully dialed into these seemingly mundane municipal affairs, things can go wrong quickly.

Tom McCarthy seemed to be excited by the prospect of performing these tasks. He had ideas about maximizing the office’s customer service potential. We hope he continues that enthusiasm if elected.

For his interest in the work ahead, TBR News Media endorses McCarthy’s candidacy for Smithtown town clerk.

Trotta adds a healthy dose of pessimism to county government

Rob Trotta

A government as large and complex as Suffolk County’s could take any reform-minded individual down an arduous and ultimately unfulfilling rabbit hole.

Take Suffolk County Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga), who has been running on a reform agenda since 2013. Trotta is running for his sixth and final term in the county Legislature, and his prospects for reelection look promising — he is running unopposed. He has always been a rebel, but entering his last term, he pledged to go out with a bang. We hope he does.

The county government is at a critical juncture in its history. From aging cesspools polluting our water to long-term uncertainty over our regional waste management system to the potential for serious financial strife in the years ahead, there are many challenges our county government must soon resolve.

Trotta not only concentrates on the principles of good government; he has staked his entire political career upon these precepts. And with just two short years before he is termed out of office, he has nothing to lose.

In the coming term, we wish Trotta well and hope that he achieves his goal to “clean up this mess.”

We also support his platform of open space conservation, which is critically important in this time of often continuing development. Our county must protect the few remaining parcels left, and Trotta seems determined to do so.

Meanwhile, we strongly condemn the Suffolk County Democratic Committee for refusing to run an opponent against the sitting incumbent. This practice is detrimental to our local deliberative process and quite possibly explains the staggering loss of Democratic seats in the county Legislature and for countywide office.

But despite the committee’s faults, we have good reason to back the incumbent. This November, TBR News Media strongly endorses Rob Trotta’s uncontested reelection campaign.

Majority endorsement: Hebert and McKay will bring needed change for Huntington

Don McKay
Jen Hebert

Watch a typical public comment period during general meetings of the Huntington Town Board and the takeaway will be clear: the people yearn for change.

This year, voters are considering a qualified slate of candidates, all deeply motivated and informed on local policy. Yet there are some noteworthy differences between them.

During our office debate, our staff was deeply moved by Jen Hebert’s depth of insight, her conviction and her compassion for local residents. For each issue we asked her about — from accessory dwelling units to land use to quality of life decisions — Hebert seemed to speak to the core issues facing ordinary citizens, offering tangible policy solutions for each problem.

We believe Hebert’s background as a trustee on the South Huntington school district Board of Education uniquely qualifies her for the task of breathing new life into Huntington Town Board. This year, each member of our staff enthusiastically endorses her vision for town government.

In deciding between the other two candidates, a majority of us felt Don McKay had the slight edge.

If residents desire change, then McKay would be the ideal vessel to carry out their will. McKay said he is not looking to make friends while in office but to bring about real reforms. If elected, we hope he follows through on his objective and brings change to a system which evidently demands new vision.

We thank each of the candidates for a substantive and cordial discussion of local topics. Any one of these three candidates, we believe, will be a force of good for town government.

But given the choice of only two, a majority of our staff endorses Jen Hebert and Don McKay for Huntington Town Board.

Minority endorsement: Mari will preserve Huntington’s charm and character

Theresa Mari

During a roundtable debate with TBR News Media, Theresa Mari exhibited an ardent dedication to the betterment of the Town of Huntington. 

Mari prides herself on her strength of character and commitment to being a strong leader.

Mari’s vision for Huntington revolves around responsible development and sound infrastructure. While acknowledging the necessity for housing, she stands against large-scale development projects that could alter the town’s character.

Mari is equally dedicated to maintaining financial stability. If elected, she vows to “hold the line” on taxes, ensuring that residents’ tax burden remains stable. Simultaneously, she aims to enhance infrastructure, addressing issues like road maintenance and safeguarding drinking water resources.

Mari also showed a deep care for community youth as she shared plans to bridge the gap between youth organizations and school districts to create positive programs for the town’s young residents. This includes collaborating with youth courts, local drug rehabilitation centers and school districts to offer crucial support, particularly in the area of mental health.

As Huntington faces the upcoming election with two vacant seats on the Town Board, Mari stands out as a dedicated advocate with a clear vision for the town’s future. Her legal background, commitment to community service and passion for preserving Huntington’s character make her a compelling candidate for the Town Board. 

She, therefore, has the endorsement of a minority of our staff.

 

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, at podium, announces new downtown revitalization stimulus funds for Smithtown communities. Photo from Bellone’s Flickr page

By Sabrina Artusa

Suffolk County is giving Kings Park, St. James and Smithtown a sizable chunk of downtown revitalization stimulus.

These funds, made available by the pandemic economic recovery allotments, will help revitalize the downtown districts while investing in developing infrastructure in downtown areas.

Through the JumpSMART Small Business Downtown Investment Program, which awards money to nonprofits, organizations and businesses, and the Jumpstart program, which awards money to towns and municipalities, the county gave $5.5 million to improve the local downtown economies.

“We recognize that our long-term economic prosperity is dependent to an extent on the success of our downtowns,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D). “Our downtowns are the places where we have the vibrancy we need to keep and attract young people in our community.”

The Smithtown Performing Arts Center was awarded $500,000, and Celebrate St. James, a leading organization in preserving arts and culture in St. James, was awarded a $100,000 JumpSMART grant. The town was additionally given a $900,000 JumpStart grant for the acquisition and restoration of the century-old Calderone Theatre, which is currently in disrepair.

Kings Park, Bellone said, has one of the most prosperous downtowns in Suffolk County. The Agape Community Sports Services was awarded a $1.45 million JumpSMART Award. Bellone described the organization as a “major regional tourism asset” expected to attract 350,000 people to Kings Park.

The Town of Smithtown was also awarded $2.5 million for traffic and street improvements in Kings Park.

“Every single penny we receive will be well spent, and it will be to benefit the Smithtown community,” Town of Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) said.

“This is how we are able to raise local talent, invest in local communities and, more importantly, put your tax dollars back in your hands, which is why we are doing it.” Minority Leader Jason Richberg (D-West Babylon) added.

Also in attendance were legislators Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset) and Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga), Presiding Officer Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst), Suffolk County’s commissioner of Economic Development and Planning Sarah Lansdale, and Jonathan Keyes, director of downtown revitalization and transit-oriented development.

“Without the Legislature voting to put these funds in place in this year’s operating budget and in the capital budget over the last couple of years, this wouldn’t be possible,” Bellone said.

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Photo from Town of Smithtown

On October 21, 368 residents delivered more than 8.37 tons (16,740 pounds) of paper documents to the Town of Smithtown Municipal Services Facility (MSF) during the second shredding event of 2023. A steady stream of residents arrived throughout the day to dispose of personal documents, which were then safely destroyed by the Data Shredding Service, Inc. “Shreddersaurus.” Despite the weather, MSF staff was able to accommodate the shredding event inside the recycling building. This bi-annual event is hosted free of charge for residents, courtesy of the Smithtown Department of Environment and Waterways (DEW) and the Municipal Services Facility.

“Our team at the Municipal Services Facility always goes above and beyond for our residents. I want to commend them and the Department of Environment and Waterways on their quick thinking and for making arrangements to hold the shredding event indoors. Because of this, the town collection for paper shredding was not reduced in any way, and the community was pleased with the outstanding service,” said Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim

The Department of Environment and Waterways and Municipal Services Facility provided additional support staff to assist with moving vehicles along. Residents were pleased with the service provided by MSF and DEW staff, in addition to the two trucks from Data Shredding Services of Hauppauge. Participants enjoyed short to no wait times and the opportunity to dispose of their documents safely while also avoiding the potential risk of identity theft.

The October Shred Event was hosted at the Municipal Services Facility, located at 85 Old Northport Road in Kings Park, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Data Shredding Service, Inc. is a full-service confidential shredding service located on Corporate Drive in Hauppauge. The 2024 paper shredding events are scheduled for May 4th, 2024 and October 19th, 2024. For updates on upcoming free events hosted by the Town of Smithtown, download the Mobile App, which is available for free on Google Play and the App Store.