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Gary Bodenburg

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%.

Gary Bodenburg, left, and and Town of Brookhaven Councilmenber Jonathan Kornreich debate the local issues facing the town’s 1st Council District. Photos by Raymond Janis

By Mallie Jane Kim

Special education teacher and school administrator Gary Bodenburg (R) is challenging incumbent Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) to represent the Town of Brookhaven’s 1st Council District. The two faced off in a debate on local issues at the TBR News Media offices.

Bodenburg works in South Huntington’s school district and said he has spent a lot of time with at-risk populations, including students with special needs and victims of domestic violence. He said he thinks it’s important for average citizens to become “activated” for the benefit of the next generation.

“I’m trying to see the world through my 9-year-old’s eyes and make sure we make this place better and better each day,” he said.

Kornreich, who won his seat in a special election in 2021, has been a fixture in the Three Village area for years. He started his civic engagement with the board of North Shore Montessori School in Stony Brook when his kids were in preschool, then served on Three Village Central School District’s Board of Education and as president of Three Village Civic Association. He sees the town job as an extension of his deep personal interest in the community.

“I love serving the community,” he said. “It has nothing to do with the election — this is my life.”

Balancing redevelopment

Kornreich suggested the way to make redevelopment financially viable for developers is to have a mixed-use component, that is, build apartments on top of retail space like a grocery store, for example. This would also allow for more affordable housing for young people starting their careers and empty nesters downsizing, he said. But he cautioned that balance is key.

“We have to balance carrying capacity — How many people can our infrastructure, our roads, our single-source aquifer, our surface waters; how many people can this fragile little island support? — versus the need to redevelop blighted properties,” he said.

Bodenburg agreed redevelopment should balance environmental and quality-of-life concerns with the need for housing and safety. “When you see those buildings looking the way they are, it does attract undesirables to that area, and that just increases the issue of crime, and then we’re at a whole other set of spiraling,” he said, suggesting grants and other incentives for fixing up buildings and easing the burden on property owners.

Bodenburg acknowledged apartments above retail space could be useful for some, but he expressed concern about mixed-use buildings. He said residents he’s spoken to are not happy with the idea. “They do not want these apartment complexes, they feel it changes the character of their neighborhoods,” he said.

He also believed the town needs to act on the years of plans and studies for redevelopment in the area by working with local, county and state officials. “We’ve seen a lot of studying things to death with not necessarily something culminating or coming out of it,” he said, pointing to traffic backups he’d like to fix. “We need to start pulling the triggers on these things.”

Kornreich rebutted that redevelopment is something that happens over generations, and the studies are there to guide town decisions as the community changes happen over time.

“There’s no trigger to pull,” he said. “The Town of Brookhaven’s job is not to come in and tear buildings down and rebuild them according to the will of the community. This is an evolutionary process, and the visioning sets the long-term vision and roadmap for the way the community would like to see it.”

Kornreich added that mixed-use buildings would best go in already-built downtown areas, rather than within neighborhoods with single-family homes. He pointed to Patchogue as an example, with its many restaurants and walkable retail. “It’s a fun place in a preexisting downtown area. It’s really good reuse and redevelopment,” he said.

Landfill closure

Both candidates addressed the scheduled closing of Brookhaven’s landfill as a looming budgetary crisis, as it has brought sizable public revenue into the town’s coffers every year. They agreed that lack of planning over the past decades means the burden for making up the difference will largely fall to taxpayers.

Bodenburg said he’d go through the town budget to see where belts can be tightened, pointing to his experience as lead negotiator for his teachers union contracts. “Any time you’re looking at a major budget deficit, you have to start looking at other areas in order to cover those losses,” he said. “Negotiating [outside] contracts, making sure we’re getting the most bang for the buck when we’re hiring and contracting services for the town.”

Kornreich pointed to a wind-farm deal that should help make up some of the difference. He added that after he came to office and learned there was not much advanced planning, he was part of a group that rezoned the land around the landfill from residential to industrial, to make way for a solar farm that would also bring in revenue.

This was not a popular act with his party, he said. “I paid a political price, but it was the right thing to do because it was part of this process — at least from where I’m sitting — of scrambling now to try to fill that hole.”

Working across the political aisle

Kornreich has been the only elected Democrat in town government, something he said he has not let become an issue for him. “I’m the minority leader on the Town Board,” he joked. Calling himself a moderate Democrat, he said he’s made a point to work well with his colleagues across the political aisle.

“I’m trying to show that Democrats are people who are interested in good government and we’re interested in supporting the economy and supporting working people, supporting families and supporting kids,” he said. “We don’t have to get involved in the partisan warfare, and we can work together.”

Bodenburg said he, too, was not interested in political squabbles, and said “fake boundary lines that exist on paper” would not hold him back from working with all community members and other elected officials.

“My intentions are community-based — our kids, our families — and whatever is best for our community,” he said, adding that he would like to see more cohesiveness in the town. “I steer clear of politics and any type of issue that will throw a wrench in what’s best for our community.”

Kornreich’s willingness to work with Republicans has landed him in tricky situations, like with a vote in favor of the controversial town redistricting map last year. He said that vote, like many others he has taken, represented a compromise, and he is not a “bomb thrower” to vote “no” on policy he was part of helping to create.

“Is it a map that I would draw or support if I were in control? Absolutely not, no way. But it’s 6-1, so when you’re negotiating 6-1, I could take a performative vote and just vote ‘no,’” he said, clarifying that previous draft maps had significantly worse gerrymandering than the final version, and that the final map kept his district together. “Sometimes you’ve got to take a bad vote. You could choose bad or you could choose worse, and sometimes you have to choose bad — and that’s one of the realities of this job.”

Council District 1 voters will choose who will represent them when they hit the polls Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Democratic Party lawn signs posted along Route 25A in Setauket. Photo by Mallie Jane Kim

A Three Village Civic Association Meet the Candidates event Monday, Oct. 2, hosted nine hopefuls (with one absentee) for local government positions — namely Suffolk County executive, Brookhaven Town supervisor, Brookhaven supervisor of highways, county legislator and town council — asking them questions through moderator Herb Mones relevant to current issues in the community.

Brookhaven Town Council: 1st District

Incumbent Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) is facing special education teacher Gary Bodenburg (R) in his bid to keep the seat he won in a special election in March 2021.

Kornreich, who previously served on the Three Village school board and as civic president, said he has a deep understanding of the main issues facing Brookhaven today — land use and planning, including an undersupply of affordable housing and an oversupply of vacant retail and commercial properties.

“One of my most important goals is to help guide the redevelopment of those properties in a way that doesn’t tax our already overburdened infrastructure,” he said, referring to the current system of dealing with sewage primarily through cesspools and its impact on the town’s sole drinking water source, as well as traffic.

Bodenburg acknowledged land use is a major function of the town, but added that assuring quality of life is equally important, pointing to how the many expenses of living on Long Island are straining for families.

“Sometimes we need an outsider, somebody with a fresh set of eyes to look at the issues that we face and create solutions that are somewhat creative, but are keeping our main focus of our families and our children in mind,” he said.

Both candidates said they wanted to ensure community members have the same level of access to government as land developers, as well as increased transparency in the process of member selection for planning and zoning boards.

Kornreich expressed particular concern about overdevelopment of areas like Three Village, as well as frustration about the current notification process of proposed zoning changes to nearby residents. He called the required notification letter “arcane” and confusing, and said he sends his own letter with a map and narrative explanation to residents explaining what is proposed for their neighborhood.

He said he’s working with the town’s legal department to require more robust and transparent communication. “That type of notification and that type of process makes a big difference,” he said.

Bodenburg promised to take on long wait times for things like permits. He said he planned to ensure different departments are sharing information and working cohesively to improve the efficiency of government services.

“We can do that very easily by surveying each department and finding out from the people that are serving our community: How can we help you? What makes your job easier? How can we make your job easier, so we can get our residents to get what they need faster,” Bodenburg said.

Brookhaven superintendent of highways

Newcomer Michael Kaplan (D) is challenging current Highway Supervisor Daniel Losquadro (R), who has served in that position for a decade.

Kaplan, a veteran who spent time in the Middle East with the U.S. Army, is trying to capitalize on his 30 years of experience with highway departments, from a laborer to a road inspector to working for the superintendent of highways in Huntington.

“The highway department should be run by someone who possesses the skill, someone who actually filled potholes, ran a street sweeper, plowed in many snowstorms, cleaned up things like Hurricane Sandy,” he said, adding that he also knows well the administrative side, and what needs improvement. “I want to get rid of pay-to-play. I want to get rid of basically politics in highways — people will be promoted with their merit and not by, per se, writing a check to their political party. That needs to end.”

Losquadro highlighted his accomplishments at the department, including conversion from analog to digital since his election 10 years ago. “We were a department that was hand-writing notes on work orders,” he said. “All my foremen now have iPads with a simple graphic user interface. They’re able to take photos, they’re able to upload that information instantaneously.”

That digital revolution, he added, “not only allows me to track how those work orders are being done, but it gives me a measurable metric by which I can gauge the performance of my employees.”

Both candidates shared their desire to improve safety for bikers and pedestrians, but also acknowledged the challenge of retrofitting modern infrastructure into one of the oldest parts of Long Island.

Another area of agreement was the frustration of unfunded mandates from the state and county — particularly for road and sidewalk maintenance. “I don’t know why the Department of Transportation even bothers to call themselves the state Department of Transportation anymore, because they seem to want to abdicate the responsibility for state roads almost entirely,” Losquadro said, adding that repairing sidewalks along state roads that were installed by the state has not traditionally been part of the town’s budget, and he would like to push back and request funding from the state for this work.

Kaplan suggested a more forceful response. “You need a more fierce attitude dealing with Suffolk DOT and state DOT,” he said. “I think we need fresh eyes — someone that’s really going to go up against the state government and the county government and say, ‘No, we’re not doing this anymore, and if you want us to do it, give us some money for it.”

Suffolk County executive

Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) has thrown his hat in the ring to lead Suffolk County after 11 years at the helm of the town. He said he’s proud of his accomplishments in Brookhaven and hopes to make the same kind of changes at the county level.

“When I came into Brookhaven, we had a lot of financial trouble and we had a divided board that was very argumentative — that ended within a few months,” he said. “My colleagues on the board right up to the present day will tell you, we work together. We have unity on the board. We have a focus to go forward.”

He said he also helped repair the town’s financial distress, pointing to the fact that the town currently has a AAA credit rating, and the New York State Comptroller’s Office just gave the town a perfect “0” score for fiscal and environmental stress indicators. He said he would also work to invite wind energy into the area, noting he’d like to move the county away from fossil fuels.

Challenging Romaine, businessman Dave Calone (D) is a Three Village resident and former federal prosecutor who sought accountability for international economic crimes, particularly in oil and gas, and for terrorism after the September 11 terrorist attacks. He later participated in assisting start-ups on Long Island and around the country.

He said he is passionate about protecting the environment and, while serving as chair of the Suffolk County Planning Commission, helped streamline and expedite the permitting process for residential solar panels, something that became a model for other counties and states. He said he even spoke at a conference on the topic in Chicago. 

“I think I’m the only person ever who has gone from Long Island to somewhere else to teach them how to cut red tape,” he said.

Calone also pledged to reintroduce a bill that would allow residents to vote on whether to raise sales tax by 1/8 of a cent to establish a water quality protection fund, which would help add sewers and update septic systems, in light of a summer that saw several days of beach closings due to poor water quality.

Marine scientists and other water experts have said prolific outdated cesspool systems in Suffolk are harming area waterways and the aquifer. The county Legislature blocked a referendum on the wastewater fund in July.

“For me, it’s about focusing on safety, opportunity, affordability and, obviously, environmental protection,” Calone said.

Both candidates agreed the county has significant areas to improve, especially in cybersecurity as well as in increased staffing for Child Protective Services, 911 operations and the police. Both blamed traffic fatalities on insufficient enforcement.

Calone said he would seek funding to create more “complete streets,” that is, roads friendly and safe for multiple uses: pedestrians, bikers and motorists.

Romaine called out the current county executive, Steve Bellone (D), saying there are essential positions left “deliberately” vacant, leaving police officers, 911 operators and CPS caseworkers overloaded and unable to keep up with demand for services. 

“I’m supervisor of a town,” Romaine said. “If I put a job in the budget, it gets filled. If it becomes vacant, it gets filled. That is not true in the county of Suffolk,” calling the practice dishonest. “If we fill those jobs, it’s not that you’d have to pay more because you’re already getting taxed for that.”

County legislator: 5th District

Anthony Figliola (R-East Setauket), a Three Village resident with experience in economic development and government relations, and former New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) are vying to replace the vacant seat left by Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), who would have been term limited in any event.

A geologist by trade with a long association with Stony Brook University, Englebright served in the Suffolk County Legislature from 1983 to 1992, before his long term in the state Assembly until the end of 2022. He said he was particularly inspired to reenter the county’s political sphere when he heard the Legislature in July rejected the opportunity to let people vote on the clean water bill. He said the move took away a chance for public education on how aging septic infrastructure affects the county’s sole-source aquifer and local harbors.

“The reason I’m running for the county Legislature is the work that I began there to protect clean water and protect us environmentally, and in order to encourage the growth of renewable energy — those issues are still very, very much in need, I believe, of some of the attention that I can give to them,” he said. “Let the people vote for clean water.”

Figliola, who indicated he was also disappointed the Legislature did not allow the clean water referendum, said he wants to bring to Suffolk his experience helping small businesses grow and assisting municipalities seeking federal funds for infrastructure.

“I care about this community, which is why I want to bring a private-sector mindset to the county Legislature because we have fiscal problems,” Figliola said. He also said he’d like to help small businesses succeed in order to decrease the number of vacant storefronts in the area.

Both candidates agreed red-light cameras should be used in a more thoughtful and disciplined way — for public safety and not as a revenue stream. “People feel that it is a cash grab, and I want to make sure their pockets are not being picked,” Figliola said.

Brookhaven Town supervisor

In the race to replace Romaine as town supervisor, Lillian Clayman (D), a SUNY Old Westbury adjunct professor and former mayor of Hamden, Connecticut, is facing off against Brookhaven Deputy Supervisor Dan Panico (R-Manorville).

Clayman, who also worked as an organizer for a health care union and chair of the Brookhaven Town Democratic Committee, was unable to make the event, but said previously her priorities include bringing “good government” to Brookhaven, and solving issues of waste management in light of the planned closure of Brookhaven’s landfill.

At the event, Panico detailed his long service in public office, including 13 years at his current post as councilman for the 6th District. He said Brookhaven is “light-years” from the “sordid history that unfolded from decades ago,” thanks in part to anti-nepotism and ethics laws he was part of passing.

He said a key to his collaborative style is to represent all constituents and work collaboratively with others, no matter their political leaning. He also does not talk about national politics.

“I find it to be extremely divisive,” he said. “A lot of times when elected officials are so willing to jump into the fray of national politics and culture wars, it’s because they’re not necessarily spending that time that they should be doing the job they were elected to do.”

Panico pledged to do his best to protect open spaces from overdevelopment, an issue of particular interest to area residents, and something he has had success doing. “Land use zoning and planning is my expertise,” he said, adding that the area where he grew up — Mastic Beach — was a victim of “haphazard” development, which is difficult and expensive to redevelop. He said he would like to avoid that issue in places with historical properties and such a sense of place. “You have something special here in the Three Village area,” he said.

He also said he would address issues of illegal student housing in local neighborhoods by working with Stony Brook University to find solutions — especially in light of record donations to the school that could enable additional appropriate student housing. He said he has experience in cracking down on illegal housing situations and pledged to do the same in the Three Village area. “It’s like cancer,” he said. “If you, as a government representative, do not address the issue, and the people don’t believe their government is listening and doing something, what happens? The ‘for sale’ sign goes up, especially in this market, and it spreads down the block.”

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Prospective local officeholders participate in a Meet the Candidates forum hosted by the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association Tuesday, Sept. 26. From left, Jonathan Kornreich, Gary Bodenburg, Anthony Figliola, Steve Englebright, Dan Panico and Lillian Clayman. Photo courtesy Joan Nickeson

Major party candidates for three local offices went before the public Tuesday evening, Sept. 26, for a Meet the Candidates forum at the Comsewogue Public Library hosted by the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association.

Brookhaven Town Council

Vying for Brookhaven’s 1st Council District, which encompasses Port Jeff Station/Terryville, incumbent Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) is defending his seat against Republican Party challenger Gary Bodenburg, a special education teacher at South Huntington School District.

Kornreich was first elected to the Town Board in 2021 following a special election for the vacated seat of former Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station).

Kornreich served on the Three Village Central School District Board of Education and as president of the Three Village Civic Association. His professional background is in construction and real estate finance.

“I understand the economics of what drives boom and bust cycles, and how to evaluate our current stock of real estate and what can make a project viable,” he said.

Bodenburg, along with his role as an educator, has conducted local advocacy work for at-risk youth, serving on several committees within the Comsewogue School District.

“I have always been somebody that is willing to help and put my hat in the ring with anything that goes on in our community, and I’m looking forward to expressing that in this capacity as well,” he said.

On land use, Bodenburg objected to the trend of developing new apartment complexes in and around PJS/T.

“I do believe there’s a need for housing,” he said. “Once I’m able to get involved in it and I can see a little deeper, a little clearer, it makes it a lot easier.”

Kornreich said the board needs to incentivize redevelopment, citing mixed-use development as a potential means for making redevelopment economically viable.

“If it were up to me, we wouldn’t add any new residences — I think we’re already at our carrying capacity,” the councilmember said. “We all know traffic is a nightmare, but in order to revitalize these areas, we have to be able to make it work financially for the developers.”

Given some local concerns over traffic impacts from new developments along the Route 112 corridor, Kornreich supported commissioning a comprehensive traffic study to assess interactions between proposed developments.

He warned against the trend of privately commissioned impact assessments. “I think at the town, we have to stop allowing people to just hire their own experts to tell [us] what they’re being paid to say,” the incumbent said.

Bodenburg acknowledged the value of impact assessments, though he warned against studying at the expense of progress.

“I think we need to fully evaluate anything that we’re doing, but there does come a point in time where we can’t continue to just study things and we have to make actual action,” he advised.

When pressed on growing density pressures within the hamlet, Bodenburg said he has been coordinating with a real estate developer and revitalizer interested in working with the town to develop properties and expand affordable housing opportunities for residents.

“We have to be a little more creative than we have been in the past, and I think that that is something that we need to look into,” he said.

Kornreich said the region offers limited residential opportunities for young families with an “insatiable” demand for affordable housing.

“The way that we can address this at the town level is pretty straightforward,” he said. “We have control over local zoning … so we could offer incentives to developers who are going to put affordable units in their development.”

But, he added, “For these projects to work, that’s where we need the state and federal government to do things like providing low-interest loans.”

Suffolk County Legislature

Former New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) and former NY-1 congressional candidate Anthony Figliola (R-East Setauket) have both stepped forward to fill the now-vacant 5th District seat of former Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket).

Figliola, whose professional background is in government relations with related advocacy work for the proposed electrification of the Port Jeff Branch line of the Long Island Rail Road, centered much of his platform around the electrification initiative.

Electrification would cause “less particulates going into the atmosphere,” he said. “Also for economic development, with the revitalization of Port Jefferson Station and all the [stations] along that from St. James all the way to Huntington.”

Englebright served in the county Legislature from 1983-92 and the state Assembly from 1992-2022. A geologist by training, he concentrated his platform around green energy and environmental protection.

“I sponsored most of the laws that set the stage for the creation of a renewable energy program for the state,” the former assemblyman said. “Green energy initiatives are critically important for our future.”

When asked about the future of the Lawrence Aviation Superfund site in Port Jeff Station, Englebright endorsed the idea of relocating the existing rail yard to the property while eliminating the grade crossing on Route 112.

“The whole idea of having a rail yard there and getting rid of the at-grade crossing on 112 is very much with the concept of having a workable and safe environment,” he added.

Figliola said the community is currently on a path toward a renaissance with the site’s eventual redevelopment. He emphasized the need for public input as these local transformations continue.

“Whatever happens, the community needs to be a part of it,” he said. “As your legislator, I will certainly take the lead in working with all the various agencies to ensure that your voice is heard.”

This year’s election comes amid a countywide debate over wastewater infrastructure. When asked about the Republican majority’s recent decision to block the advancement of the Suffolk County Water Quality Restoration Act from reaching the November ballot, Figliola advocated for more sewer infrastructure.

“I am absolutely for finding dollars where available,” he said, adding, “If the voters so choose that they want to have an extra tax, that’s something that I would be for in the Legislature — for the voters to make that decision.”

Englebright objected to the Legislature’s reversal on wastewater, saying it jeopardizes tourism and agriculture, the county’s two largest industries.

“I do not believe that at the last minute — at the 11th hour — this initiative should not have been given to the public,” he said.

Town supervisor

In a race to succeed outgoing Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) — who is running against businessman Dave Calone (D) for Suffolk County executive — Deputy Supervisor Dan Panico (R-Manorville) is squaring off against SUNY Old Westbury adjunct professor Lillian Clayman.

Panico was a practicing attorney and served as senior deputy Suffolk County clerk before entering town government. He served on the Brookhaven Planning Board before his election in 2010 as councilman for the 6th Council District, an office he has held ever since.

Clayman is a Port Jefferson resident who served three terms as mayor of Hamden, Connecticut, before becoming an organizer for health care union 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and later as chair of the Brookhaven Town Democratic Committee. She currently teaches labor and industrial relations.

Clayman indicated that effective public administration starts with proper personnel decisions. “I surround myself with people who I think are smarter than I am,” she noted.

To streamline the town’s existing administrative structure, she proposed revamping the Building Department, citing voluminous paperwork and other complications within the permitting process.

While Panico referred to himself as “very similar to Supervisor Romaine,” he suggested some differences in administrative approach.

He proposed staffing his administration with “people who want to work, people who care about their jobs, no one looking to clock time or [collect a] pension and people who are honest.”

Each candidate was questioned on how his or her administration would handle the impending closure of the Brookhaven Town Landfill, located on Horseblock Road, and the precipitating loss of public revenue for the town budget.

Panico supported a more aggressive recycling campaign with greater pressure on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for regional sustainable planning.

“What we need to do is enhance recycling and get the DEC to go forward with a comprehensive plan to promote markets for recycling,” he said.

While acknowledging that land use is the primary function of the town government, Clayman said the town has a secondary responsibility to promote environmental protection.

“Brookhaven is supposed to protect the air that we breathe,” she said. “Brookhaven is supposed to protect the people who live around the landfill, who have since 1974 been living with that garbage.”

She added that expanding composting activities within the town would reduce the waste volume entering the landfill.

Voters will decide on these candidates in just over a month: Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Left file photo by TBR News Media; center from the Brookhaven town website; right file photo by Heidi Sutton

Local legislative elections are shaping up, with candidates across levels of government gearing up for county, town and village races.

Suffolk’s 5th District

Steve Englebright, left, and Anthony Figliola are the Democratic and Republican nominees, respectively, for Suffolk County’s 5th District. Left from Englebright’s Facebook; right file photo

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), whose 5th District encompasses Port Jefferson, Port Jefferson Station/Terryville and Three Village, is termed out due to 12-year term limits for county legislators. To fill the open seat, former New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) and former congressional candidate Anthony Figliola have stepped up.

Before receiving his party’s nomination, Englebright had previously occupied the seat from 1984 to 1992, after which he entered the state Assembly. He described this year’s bid as “coming home.”

“It’s been some 30 years in Albany, but my heart is always here in the community,” he said. “There’s a lot of work to be done.”

The core issues facing the 5th District, Englebright contended, are those related to the environment and public health. He stated his core priorities are protecting Long Island’s sole-source aquifer and its coastal waters.

“Science has advanced, and the connection between our drinking water and our tidal waters is more explicitly understood now,” the former assemblyman said. “The challenges are awaiting a legislative response to the science, so I’d like to be a part of that. I think I can make a meaningful contribution.”

He said he hoped to continue working toward preserving open space if elected and also emphasized protecting the Setauket and Port Jefferson harbors from contamination. He viewed restoring the county’s information technology systems, promoting affordable housing and limiting sprawl as central.

Figliola was the third-place finisher in 2022 during the GOP primary for New York’s 1st Congressional District. Among his professional credentials, he has served as deputy supervisor of the Town of Brookhaven and is currently executive vice president of a government relations and economic development business. A resident of East Setauket, he will represent the Republican Party in this year’s 5th District contest.

“With Kara leaving, we need someone who has a plan for the future of our district to make sure that we represent everybody,” he told TBR News Media. “I’ve done a tremendous amount of work with small business, with the environment and volunteerism in this community.”

He added, “I just jumped at the opportunity to be able to represent the people that I live and work with.”

Like Englebright, Figliola stressed the importance of water quality in the Setauket and Port Jeff harbors. He said he would also explore opportunities for more sewers, addressing electrification of the Port Jefferson Branch line of the Long Island Rail Road as an area of concern.

“I want to continue the work that I’ve been doing on a volunteer basis for almost seven years, which is to help bring the electrification of the Port Jefferson rail line here,” he said.

He added that supporting small business districts, preserving and developing parks, and encouraging community-based planning will be in focus.

Brookhaven’s 1st Council District

Jonathan Kornreich, left, and Gary Bodenburg are the Democratic and Republican nominees, respectively, for the Town of Brookhaven’s 1st Council District. Left from the Brookhaven town website; right courtesy Bodenburg

Incumbent Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook), the sole elected Democrat in the town, is up for reelection this year. He entered the Town Board after a special election in March 2021 to replace former Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station), who had won a seat on the state Supreme Court.

“Serving this community is something I’ve been doing for almost two decades through service on the [Three Village] school board, the [Three Village] Civic Association and other nonprofits like the Boys and Girls Club,” he said. “Community service is really my life’s passion.”

Kornreich stated that land use would remain a top-level interest if reelected, expressing concerns with Gov. Kathy Hochul’s (D) housing proposal for Long Island.

“One of the big looming policy issues that we’re facing is this potential threat from the governor’s office about seizing zoning control and handing it over to bureaucrats in Albany who don’t understand our communities,” he said.

The incumbent added, “We do have an affordable housing crisis — it’s just very difficult for people to find affordable places to live, and we have to address that. But we have to address it in a thoughtful way that’s sensitive to the makeup of these communities and the built environment where they currently exist.”

He also touched upon the quality of life issues that affect his constituents, such as overdevelopment and sprawl. He pledged to focus on building viable downtowns and parks while protecting the environment.

Carrying the Republican Party’s nomination in the race for CD1 is Gary Bodenburg, a special education teacher who ran for the Comsewogue Board of Education last year.

“I believe good government is needed at all levels, so I plan on continuing the mission and vision of [Brookhaven Town Supervisor] Ed Romaine [R] in maintaining fiscal responsibility by controlling taxes and spending, addressing environmental concerns and also keeping a close eye over the overdevelopment of our suburbs,” Bodenburg said.

The Republican candidate addressed other policy concerns, such as streamlining services within the town government to “provide better value for our tax dollars.”

“Specifically, I think it’s important that we address a 25A corridor study,” he said, adding, “I also look to finalize plans with Lawrence Aviation, as well as better enforcement of housing codes for problems with off-campus student housing.”

Bodenburg said that reducing the impact of traffic and improving town parks and marinas would also be on his agenda.

Port Jefferson’s Board of Trustees

Stan Loucks, left, and Bob Juliano are both declared candidates for the Port Jefferson Board of Trustees. Left from the Port Jefferson village website; right courtesy Juliano

So far, only two candidates have emerged in the villagewide race for the Port Jefferson Board of Trustees election on June 20. Two seats are up for grabs — one uncontested, as Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden is running for mayor.

Trustee Stan Loucks will seek his fifth election, having joined the board in 2015. During his tenure, he has served as trustee liaison to the parks department and Port Jefferson Country Club, coordinating with the administration on stabilization plans for the East Beach bluff.

“I love working for the village, specifically the areas that I’m assigned to,” Loucks said. “I just want to keep going. That’s the bottom line.”

Asked what policies he would seek to implement in the coming term, Loucks said reinvigoration of PJCC would be a continued area of emphasis. “I’d like to see more social activities and more community get-togethers focusing around what I think is the gem of the village, and that’s the country club,” he said.

Between new racket sports facilities, recreational programs and the finalization of coastal engineering projects along the bluff, he expressed optimism for such a revival of PJCC. “I want to see it come back,” he said.

Former village clerk Bob Juliano is also in the running. He has had considerable professional experience in municipal government, holding various administrative posts throughout his career in Port Jeff, Westbury and Lindenhurst villages.

“I have the knowledge and experience of being a clerk and a treasurer for the past 30 years for three different municipalities,” Juliano said. “I figured I could use that expertise and my knowledge and my know-how and put it to good use for the community that I live in.”

If elected, Juliano said he would like to “slow down what’s going on uptown.” Like Kornreich, he expressed apprehensions over Hochul’s housing priorities. And similar to Loucks, he proposed exploring a better use for PJCC.

“I’m very concerned about the country club,” he said. “I know they’re progressing with the wall and everything, which is a fantastic thing, but I’d like to see the country club be more viable as well as more welcoming.”

 

To read about the races for Suffolk County executive, Brookhaven town supervisor and Port Jeff Village mayor, see story, “Suffolk County exec race prompts turnover across local government,” at tbrnewsmedia.com.

A closer look at some of the candidates

Comsewogue High School, above, will serve as the polling site for this year’s board of education election. File photo

By Raymond Janis

Next week, residents of Comsewogue school district will decide upon the election of two candidates for school board.

The terms for trustees Robert DeStefano and Francisca Alabau-Blatter are expiring and both are running for reelection. On Tuesday, May 17, voters will determine who will fill these seats for the next three years.

TBR News Media reached out to the declared candidates, asking them why they are running, what are the most important issues facing the district in the coming term and what they hope to accomplish if elected. Meghan Puleo and Alabau-Blatter could not be reached for interviews. We welcome Puleo and Alabau-Blatter to reach out to us and we will update this story on our website to include these interviews.

Robert DeStefano

DeStefano said he is running for reelection out of love for his community. He added that he and his wife grew up in the community, bought a house there and believe in the importance of giving back. 

“To serve this community in this capacity is something that I had the honor of doing for the last dozen years,” he said. “There are still a lot of good things to continue to do, and there are always things that we can be working on to improve.”

According to him, there is still much to be done in terms of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. He said this is still the greatest issue facing the district. 

“Right now it’s all about making sure we get the kids recovered from the last couple of years,” he said, adding, “We’ve all been through a lot in getting through the pandemic and making sure that for any students that are still feeling the effects of learning loss, we catch them up.” 

If elected for another term, DeStefano said his principal objective is, aside from what was previously stated, to help introduce the new programs coming to the district.

“We have a lot of exciting things coming into the district,” he said. “We are introducing a nine-period day in our high school. We have plans to bring that into our middle school to give our students more options for additional classes.” He added that he intends to perfect these programs as they are implemented by “making sure that these initiatives thrive and become part of the curriculum, so that our younger students and our future students can count on them beyond the life of just this term.”

Joseph Borruso

Borruso said that a number of people throughout the community are seeking change in the school district. 

“A lot of the candidates have been there for 10-plus years now, so they just want some fresh people in there,” he said. “My background I think is a perfect fit. I have a bachelor’s in finance and accounting, so I think I would be a good addition to help out in all aspects of the school board and the community.”

If elected, Borruso intends to focus on the curriculum and academic programs throughout the district. “We’re ranked well below some of the similar-sized schools, like Mount Sinai, Rocky Point and Miller Place,” he said. “I don’t think we’re as bad as the rankings show but I’ll dig deep into how these rankings are done and processed, and see what we can do better to get our rankings up.”

Borruso said active participation on the school board will be his principal objective. “I want to go there with a fresh way of thinking and utilize my background and skills to help push a positive agenda forward,” he said. 

Gary Bodenburg

Bodenburg said he has served the community in various capacities through committees throughout the district. According to him, he is currently the director of curriculum and instruction for a nonprofit organization that helps women and children who are victims of domestic violence. 

“It’s safe to say that I am really doing this to move together as a community, enrich the lives of all of our children and support our staff and teachers to the best of my ability,” he said.

Bodenburg emphasized the importance of costs and fiscal responsibility. At a time of great uncertainty, he suggests thoughtful consideration of budgets to be paramount. 

“It’s important to be mindful and to make sure that our budget is very tight,” he said. “We need to be extremely mindful of the circumstances surrounding what’s happening in our world and our fiscal responsibilities to our constituents.”

Bodenburg said his principal objective is to improve communication and transparency among all stakeholders and constituents throughout the district, adding, “And with that, our goal is to advocate for children. That is the most important thing that we need to do as board members.”