As incumbent bows out, potential challengers come out of the woodwork
After more than two decades at the helm, 72-year-old Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) announced last week he will not be seeking re-election this fall for another term as supervisor.
“It is with a considerable sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, as well as a little bit of sadness, that I am announcing today that I will not be a candidate for re-election this year,” Petrone wrote in an open letter last week. He said it was a difficult decision, but felt he had achieved what he wanted to when he first took office.
“Since becoming town supervisor … I have consistently pursued an agenda that mirrored my first campaign slogan: People before Politics,” he said. “My agenda was to run town government in a way that made quality of life for our residents my No. 1 priority. And now, looking back, I believe I have accomplished what I set out to do back in 1993. It is only when an elected official puts people first that politics can be used for the greater good.”
Since being elected supervisor almost 24 years ago, Petrone has worked on issues spanning from creating affordable housing, parking, revitalizing Huntington Station, improving local water quality and more. Petrone said he is proud of his fiscal management record, which includes reducing the debt service from 24 percent to about 7 percent in the operating budget and obtaining and maintaining an AAA bond rating. He also mentioned his environmental record, which includes spearheading the first open-space bond act on Long Island, protecting 1,000 acres of land from development, purchasing more than 300 acres for preservation, creating nine new parks and improving 73 others.
“Since becoming town supervisor … I have consistently pursued an agenda that mirrored my first campaign slogan: People before Politics.” — Frank Petrone
The supervisor credited his achievements to his ability to run a bipartisan government.
“We hired people based on their qualifications and not their party affiliation,” he said. “We worked together as professionals and, when necessary, we reached across party lines to move initiatives forward.”
He thanked the many people in government he’s worked with throughout the years, as well as his wife Pat Petrone “for understanding that the demands of this job are 24/7 and for allowing me to focus on my public responsibilities, sometimes at the expense of family ones.”
At the town board meeting Tuesday, April 4, residents thanked Petrone for his service, and those very people are exactly what he said he’ll miss most.
Town board members praised Petrone for his leadership.
“The supervisor has a great ability to bring people together toward a common goal,” Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) said in an email. “We will miss his guidance, leadership and passion for our great town.”
Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) echoed the sentiment.
“A little more than 23 years ago, Frank Petrone assumed the office of supervisor and inherited a town adrift in fiscal instability, laden with debt and countless quality of life issues needing immediate attention,” he said in an email. “Pledging to place the people above politics, Supervisor Petrone worked in a bipartisan manner to restore Huntington’s fiscal health, implemented numerous programs and enacted commonsense legislation to protect our fragile environment, expand housing opportunities for seniors and moderate income families. Throughout his distinguished tenure as supervisor, Frank Petrone never wavered from doing what was in the best interest of his residents. He demanded the best from his fellow town board members and staff, always stressing the importance of upholding our commitment to fair and just public service. It has been an honor and privilege to serve alongside a compassionate and caring gentleman. He has been a faithful and trusted mentor, and I wish him the absolute best in his impending new role as grandfather.”
Town Councilman Gene Cook (I) said he hopes Petrone’s future is as bright as possible.
“I wish him the very best,” Cook said in a phone interview. “I have the utmost respect for him and I hope his future is everything he wants it to be.”
“Frank Petrone never wavered from doing what was in the best interest of his residents. He demanded the best from his fellow town board members and staff, always stressing the importance of upholding our commitment to fair and just public service.”
— Mark Cuthbertson
As for his own future, as a challenger to Petrone’s seat just four years ago, Cook said he’s interested in hearing from residents to see if they would like him to run for supervisor again.
“It’s up to the people of Huntington to decide and I’d really like to hear from them,” he said. “If there’s support I’ll look into it and see how I feel about it.”
Cook encouraged residents to call or email him if they would like to see him represent them as town supervisor, or even “give me a thumbs-up when you see me in town.”
Darryl St. George, a Greenlawn resident who announced his bid for town supervisor last month also praised Petrone.
“Supervisor Petrone has committed over 20 years of his life to town government,” he said in an email. “I thank him for the positive contributions he has made to our town.”
St. George said he believes the timing is right for a new leader to bring change.
“I commend him on his decision as I know it was a difficult one,” he said. “Now is a time for new and energetic leadership to engage our community, and bring real and meaningful change to our neighborhoods. I am dedicated to doing what is right for the people of Huntington and listening to their ideas and concerns.”
Petrone’s announcement seems to have widened the pool of candidates for his soon-to-be vacant seat, as Huntington Station resident Brian Muellers said soon after Petrone announced he is “very seriously,” considering a run.
Muellers is a former Nassau County Legislator. He served in the 18th District from 2000 to 2003, and is looking to enter the public arena again after leaving his leadership role at Pall Corporation, a global supplier of filtration, separation and purification products. He recently volunteered for the congressional campaign of U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) which Muellers said reinvigorated his desire to give back.
“I am determining for myself if there’s enough interest in the background, experience and leadership I bring for a run for office,” he said in a phone interview. “I have the ability to win tough elections, and I have a strong desire to serve my community.”
Petrone said he feels comfortable leaving office now, as many of the projects he set out to work on when he first campaigned are completed and successful.
“It was a good breaking time for me personally and a good breaking time for the town,” he said at the town board meeting. “Some new blood will come in and sit in this seat and will maybe have some new ideas that I didn’t have. And that’s what the town needs. It needs to keep moving forward and it needs to keep new ideas floating. So I think it’s time to give someone else an opportunity to do that.”