Following former Port Jefferson Village Mayor Margot Garant’s unexpected departure from the race, the Brookhaven Town Democratic Committee has tapped Lillian Clayman to stand in this year’s election for Town of Brookhaven supervisor.
Incumbent town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) is running for Suffolk County executive this November, creating an open contest for his seat. The Brookhaven Republican Committee selected Deputy Supervisor Dan Panico (R-Manorville) to head the ticket.
Garant, opposing Panico on the Democratic line, suspended her campaign last week due to an “unforeseen health issue,” according to the BTDC.
In an exclusive interview, Clayman opened up about her professional experiences and plans for the town. The new Democratic nominee centered her platform around the Brookhaven Town landfill while offering various administrative reforms.
A Port Jefferson resident, Clayman is an adjunct professor of labor and industrial relations at SUNY Old Westbury. She worked as a political organizer for health care union 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and spent a decade as a financial adviser/stockbroker at Manhattan-based global insurance corporation AIG.
Clayman served as mayor of Hamden, Connecticut, from 1991-97. She was chair of BTDC from 2016-20, and has run several political campaigns in Connecticut and on Long Island.
Clayman said she was approached last week by party leaders, who had asked to lead the ticket in Garant’s absence.
“Given the fact that I have government administrative experience as well as political experience, and given the truncated time frame, I said that I would be happy to do so,” she said.
The town landfill — located on Horseblock Road in Yaphank and scheduled to be closed to construction and demolition debris by December 2024 — is a centerpiece of Clayman’s campaign.
“We need to do something quickly about the Brookhaven landfill,” she said. “This is something that has been ignored while taxes have gone up [and] elected officials’ salaries have gone up.”
“The Brookhaven landfill and all of its impacts on the environment today and in the future has been ignored,” she added. “It’s been kicked down the road.”
Concerning intervention and remediation of the pending landfill closure, Clayman said, “The easy environmental fruit has been picked,” suggesting expediency has been advanced while root causes go neglected.
“It’s easy to be for open space,” she said. “It’s a lot harder to find a solution to something as complex as the Brookhaven landfill,” calling the facility “a Titanic headed for an iceberg.”
The Democratic candidate maintained that supervising the landfill closure — and the expected challenges precipitating from it — will require close collaboration with all interested parties.
“My plan and my approach is to bring in all of the players, all of the stakeholders in the community, so that we can make sure that we can protect our environment for real, not just with words,” Clayman said.
Along with the landfill, she proposed several administrative reforms, proposing to “bring good government” to Town Hall.
“Good government means putting contracts out to bid fairly, without regard to whether or not they contribute to your campaign,” she said. “It’s also an approach that [assesses] whether or not we actually need a service, so I do use a little bit of zero-based budgeting in my approach to providing services.”
In stating why she entered the race, Clayman indicated that the town government requires greater proactiveness and energy to serve its residents most effectively.
“There’s a lot of work to do,” she said. “There have been years of neglect and coasting, and I intend to get to work on day one.”