Tags Posts tagged with "Gary Pollakusky"

Gary Pollakusky

Pictured from left, RPSB Chamber of Commerce member Charles Todaro, restaurant owner Barbara Stephenson, RPSB Chamber of Commerce President Gary Pollakusky, RPSB Chamber of Commerce member Larry Hall, restaurant owner Robert Mastanduno (with scissors), Councilwoman Bonner, Leg. Anker, and RPSB Chamber Events Director Jeanine Pollakusky. Photo from RPSB Chamber of Commerce

Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner and Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker joined members of the Rocky Point Sound Beach (RPSB) Chamber of Commerce, Angela Noncarrow from Rep. Anthony Palumbo’s office and the local community in celebrating the ribbon cutting and one year anniversary of Robert Anthony’s “Domenica alle Due” Italian Bistro Pizzeria & Cocktail Bar in Sound Beach on Oct. 29.

From left, Councilwoman Jane Bonner, chamber president Gary Pollakusky, chamber members Nichaldeep Parhar and Larry Hall, owners Robert Mastanduno and Barbara Stephenson, chamber members Charles Todaro and Cyndi Zaweski, Leg. Sarah Anker and
Angela Noncarrow from Rep. Anthony Palumbo’s office
Jeanine Pollakusky

Located at 257 Echo Avenue, the newly renovated restaurant owned by Barbara Stephenson and Robert Mastanduno (formerly CaraMia Restaurant and Pizzeria) features a large selection of popular Italian dishes, as well a variety of pizza, salads and more.

“I welcome ‘Domenica alle Due’ to Sound Beach. Brookhaven Town is open for business and it’s important that we support the people who invest in the community and create jobs for our residents, especially during this pandemic,” said Councilwoman Bonner. “I wish Robert, Barbara and the entire staff the best of luck and encourage everyone to stop. The food is ‘spettacalore!’”

“Thank you to owners Robert and Barbara for the delicious pizza and for welcoming us into your beautiful restaurant! Be sure to go visit them soon for some tasty food,” added Leg. Anker.

Restaurant operating hours are Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 9 p.m. Closed Tuesdays. For more information, please call 631-849-4809.

Above, from left, RPSB Chamber Secretary Larry Hall; Christine Ludwig; staff member Jamie Longman; salon owner Nicole Villorente Esposito; Carmine Esposito; RPSB Chamber President Gary Pollakusky; and RPSB Membership Director Nichaldeep Parhar. Photo by Siobhan Becker

The Rocky Point Sound Beach Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting and grand opening celebration of NV Beauty Boutique, as well as the launching of a new NV Beauty product line, on Aug. 13.

From left, RPSB Chamber President Gary Pollakusky; Suffolk County Comptroller John M. Kennedy, Jr; and salon owner Nicole Villorente Esposito. Photo by Jeanine Pollakusky

The event was attended by members of the chamber, family, friends and customers as well as Suffolk County Comptroller John M. Kennedy, Jr. and representatives from Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo and Councilwoman Jane Bonner’s office who presented Certificates of Congratulations to owner Nicole Villorente Esposito and her staff.

Located at 14 Broadway, in the heart of Rocky Point’s downtown business district, NV Beauty Boutique specializes in balayage, highlights, and bridal styling. The salon opened its doors in late February of this year, but due to the COVID-19 mandated shutdown, they were not able celebrate their grand opening until now. The salon continued to cater to customers with curbside pickup of customized hair coloring kits and more. They reopened their doors on June 10.

From left, RPSB Treasurer Charles Todaro; RPSB Chamber Secretary Larry Hall; staff member Jamie Longman; salon owner Nicole Villorente Esposito; RPSB Chamber President Gary Pollakusky; RPSB Events Director Jeanine Pollakusky and RPSB Membership Director Nichaldeep Parhar. Photo from RPSB Chamber of Commerce

“The Rocky Point Sound Beach Chamber of Commerce is pleased to assist members like NV Beauty Boutique with ribbon cutting celebrations to recognize new businesses, relocations, expansions and other milestones. In a time where businesses need to get back on their feet, our chamber and ceremonies like these are a great way to garner recognition for our businesses,” said Gary Pollakusky, President and Executive Director of the RPSB Chamber of Commerce.

“Thank you to the Rocky Point Sound Beach Chamber of Commerce for our beautiful grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony. We are truly overwhelmed by all of the love Rocky Point has shown us these last few months. We love being a part of this beautiful town and look forward to many successful years ahead,” said Villorente Esposito.

“NV Beauty Boutique is a shining example of resilience in this current business climate. We look forward to NV Beauty Boutique’s success and the future patrons the business will bring that will frequent our downtown Rocky Point business district,” added Pollakusky.

For more information on NV Beauty Boutique, call 631-403-6562,  or find them at www.facebook.com/nvbeautyboutiqueinc and their website: https://www.bestprosintown.com/ny/rocky-point/nv-beauty-boutique-/

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More than a hundred local residents attended a Fourth of July event sponsored by the Rocky Point VFW Post 6249 and Rocky Point/Sound Beach Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Kyle Barr

Well over 100 people crowded in the empty lot in front of the Rocky Point VFW Post 6249 building and behind Broadway Market July 4 to celebrate Fourth of July and honor those passed veteran family members from the community.

Last month, the Rocky Point/Sound Beach Chamber of Commerce announced an initiative to honor passed veterans with banners hung all along Broadway and King Road. For the Fourth of July, the local groups hung 33 pictures of veterans from the Rocky Point area. The chamber raised $3,300 from the community in order to raise the banners.

Those on the banners included people who had fought in WWII, Korea, Vietnam and the most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Among the many families in attendance, was the McCarrick family, who had three passed members of the clan up on those banners. This included the elder McCarrick’s brother Hugh and Kevin’s father William, mother Phyllis and uncle Thomas, all of whom participated in the Navy during WWII. Family and friends of Staff Sergeant Louis Bonacasa, of the U.S. Air Force who was a bronze star and purple heart recipient, were also there to remember his life.

As families sat in the small lot with groups of chairs distanced from each other, chamber and VFW leaders led the crowd in thanking vets for their sacrifices. Included in the event was the usual singing of the national anthem and the reading of the Declaration of Independence by multiple local residents.
“As you celebrate with your family and close friends, I ask you to honor all American patriots,” VFW Commander Joe Cognitore said to the assembled crowd. “They are the ones who allowed us the freedom to celebrate today.”

When Cognitore said he joined with the VFW in the 70s, nearly everyone there was a veteran of WWII. Now, he said, they are down to just two living members who participated in that long-ago war.
Chamber President Gary Pollakusky said though the area has been hit hard because of the coronavirus, “We are strong, we are fighters, and we will all get through this.”

He referenced people he called “keyboard warriors” who “stoke fires rather than build bridges.” As compared to the “doers,” which he said included the veterans and people who helped put on the ceremony.

The names of all those hung on the banners were read out and a bell tolled in their honor, with those men’s and women’s families standing when each was called in turn.

The banners will be kept up throughout July. The chamber is looking for people to submit names for next year’s ceremony, which could include deceased veterans, living vets and active duty service members or any other military heroes the community wishes to recognize. They are also asking for additional donations for next year.

Crisis Forces Owners to Get Creative

Stony Brook Trauma Center staff member Colby Rowe and Wang Center Building Manager Scott LaMarsh accept donations for the COVID-19 Donation Center. Photo from SBU

Local businesses throughout Long Island have been hit hard because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but it also has brought them closer together. These uncertain times have bred creative and unique ideas in an effort to keep these storefronts afloat. 

Renee Goldfarb of Origin of Era in Port Jefferson hosts daily livestreams demonstrating an item in her stock during the ongoing crisis. Image from Facebook

For Renee Goldfarb, owner of Origin of Era boutique in Port Jefferson, it meant finding ways to further connect with clients and new customers despite them not being able to come into the store. 

“There’s not the heavy foot traffic we are used to seeing, so instead of just sitting in an empty store why not continue to interact with customers online?” she said. 

Goldfarb started what she calls a “virtual shopping experience” where she showcases and models different pieces of clothing from a number of indie and female designers. In these half-hour livestreams, she said it allows customers to get that familiar experience of seeing products in real time and decide what they like.

“I’m very hands on; I want them to see how these pieces look on a normal human being, not just a store mannequin,” the boutique owner said. “The viewers also leave comments and it gives me the chance to talk to them and answer their questions.”

Goldfarb currently produces weekly videos on Instagram Live and Facebook. She said she has already sold a few items from her store and is getting good feedback from customers on the videos. 

 “The business community in Port Jeff is really trying to support one another,” she said.

Though times have been trying, it has not stopped local shops from supporting those who arguably need it the most.

Similarly, the Port Jefferson Business Improvement District is conducting a restaurant delivery program that will send meals to St. Charles and Mather hospitals for the medical staff, to thank them for their service during the ongoing pandemic. The Greater Port Jeff Chamber of Commerce is also assisting in the effort. 

Theresa Skogen, liaison for the Port Jeff BID and the chamber, said they already started to drop off meals at the hospitals earlier last week.  

“We started last Saturday — it’s been a good way to revitalize some of the businesses that had to shut down and it keeps them busy during their slower days,” she said.

James Luciano, owner of the Port Jeff Lobster House and BID secretary, said the BID is donating up to 40 meals at a time to the hospitals on a rotating basis. 

“Any restaurant that is in the Greater Port Jeff area can participate,” he said. “The BID will pay them a flat fee of $500 for 40 meals. We pick up the meals and deliver them to the hospitals for free.”

Luciano said they hope to continue delivering meals every day to the local hospitals. 

In addition, the Port Jeff chamber has set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds to help Port Jeff restaurants feed hospital workers at St. Charles and John T. Mather hospitals. GreaterPortJeff.com is sponsoring fundraising efforts for the restaurants involved and the campaign will also help local restaurants. As of today, close to $4,000 has been raised. 

“We wanted to make sure we could provide that service, and be able to employ local personnel.”

-James Luciano

In an effort to further help Port Jeff businesses, the Village of Port Jefferson has created a website page titled Open Today. The page contains a list of over 30 restaurants and other businesses. The BID is also sponsoring a free delivery service  from 12 to 8 p.m. daily.  

Luciano said they wanted to have a centralized delivery system in the village during this time and at the same time have this option available to customers. 

“We wanted to make sure we could provide that service, and be able to employ local personnel,” he said.  

For some entrepreneurs, making sure customers know that they are still present is just as important, despite seeing a dip in business. 

Gabriela Schwender, of Long Island Crafty Ones, a mobile and traveling workshop based in Rocky Point, said a lot of business plans have had to be canceled due to the pandemic. Her craft workshops cater to face-to-face interactions with her clients. 

In the meantime, she has been livestreaming craft workshops on the business’ Facebook page. While she can’t provide art materials like she usually does, Schwender said she has turned to finding common household objects that can make for fun craft projects. 

“Usually when I do these workshops, I’m right there to help them or guide them,” she said. “Right now, I’m answering questions through text.”

Schwender said a number of viewers have already reached out to her saying that they would like to hire her once the pandemic/shutdown is over. 

Gary Pollakusky, executive director of the Rocky Point Sound Beach Chamber of Commerce, said small businesses are going through a difficult time right now, adding the chamber has reached out to all its members in an effort to assist them in any way they can, including giving each other ideas and advice. 

The organization has come up with its own page titled Shop Locally, Distance Socially, which can be found on its website (www.rpsbchamber.org) where it lists a number of restaurants, retail stores and other businesses that are still open and taking online orders. The chamber is also encouraging residents to order a gift card for now, to shop with once life returns to normal.

“These small businesses and mom-and-pop shops need the support of the public more than ever before,” he said. 

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker is running against Republican Gary Pollakusky to represent the 6th District. Photos by Alex Petroski

Five-term Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) is once again facing Republican challenger Gary Pollakusky, a Rocky Point business owner and head of the recently remodeled Rocky Point Sound Beach Chamber of Commerce. The candidates challenged each other in 2017, but while many issues remain the same, such as county finances, coastal water issues and opioids, the campaign season has been even more contentious than two years before.

Many of the Republicans running for county Legislature this year have made county finances a major part of their campaigns, and Pollakusky made it a point when he ran two years ago. 

“The $4 billion plan is unrealistic — it will come down to taxpayers, people who are leaving the Island, to take on this burden.”

— Gary Pollakusky

In a recent in-house debate at TBR News Media offices, the Republican challenger pointed to the recent report from the New York State comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli (D), which called Suffolk one of the most fiscally stressed counties in the state, Pollakusky adding the county now has junk bond status. He said small businesses have a hard time opening in Suffolk County, that it takes two to three years when it should, at most, two to three months. He said the county should have done more to bring in retail giant Amazon. 

Though the largest percentage of residents’ tax bills are due to school districts, the challenger said Suffolk should look to work with both the state and local school districts to reduce the number of administrators, even creating a “chancellor of education” to oversee that cause.

Anker, who first came to the Legislature in 2011 during a special election, argued that the county is not in as much fiscal stress as Republicans have said. She argued that the county’s Baa2 bond rating by Moody’s shows a different picture of the county’s financial shape. She said finances have improved significantly since when she was first elected.

The incumbent argued that instead of looking to bring in Amazon, the North Shore should look to become an “ecotourism hub,” with amenities like the new North Shore Rail Trail and Tesla Science Center.

“Instead of making a right to go pumpkin picking and wine tasting, take a left to downtown Rocky Point, so we can revitalize it,” she said. “So many stores have gone out recently.”

The Republican challenger criticized Anker for removing Rocky Point from the county sewer list and called Suffolk’s prototype septic system program a “toilet tax.” Though residents can get grants from New York State that pay most or all of the installation, Pollakusky argued there are fees attributed to landscaping or regular maintenance. 

“As far as runoff, the $4 billion plan is unrealistic — it will come down to taxpayers, people who are leaving the Island, to take on this burden,” he said.

Anker called Suffolk the “most proactive agencies in government that addresses this issue,” adding she supports the prototype septic systems as well as the county water authority’s multibillion dollar plans to reduce 1,4-dioxane in wells throughout the county. 

She added the reason she removed Rocky Point from the sewer list came from a request by the Rocky Point Civic Association whose members said they did not want to pay an additional sewer tax.

Anker currently chairs the Suffolk County Heroin and Opiate Epidemic Advisory Panel, which was created in 2017. She said the panel has already borne fruit with one recent example being Suffolk County police’s new mass spectrometer, which can identify previously undetectable substances. She said the device came from a suggestion on the 24-member panel. She added the county’s lawsuit of pharmaceutical company Purdue and the Sackler family may bring in millions of dollars of revenue to the county.

“Instead of making a right to go pumpkin picking and wine tasting, take a left to downtown Rocky Point, so we can revitalize it.”

— Sarah Anker

Pollakusky argued that while some county statistics say the opioid epidemic has plateaued, he hasn’t seen an example of that in the district, claiming there is a glut of “drug dealing homes” all across the North Shore. Like in 2017, he criticized his opponent for voting to close the Foley Center in Yaphank, saying it could have been used for bed space and as a treatment center.

Anker came back saying the county should look toward public-private partnerships in creating new treatment space.

Though the candidates talked about the ongoing issues, they were also asked how they felt about their opponents campaign tactics during this contentious season. The challenger’s voice rose during the debate as he criticized Anker for mailings published by political advocacy group People for Political Responsibility, depicting him in photoshopped, unflattering images. He claimed Anker had been disbursing campaign material at functions like the Downtown Rocky Point Summer Concert Series and advocating for herself over radio. 

Anker fired back that she had nothing to do with the mailings and had not handed out campaign material at these functions, instead handing out informational pamphlets for services provided by the county. She said her radio show was not sponsored at all by her campaign and only talked of work being done in the Legislature. 

Both have continuously blamed the other for politicizing an incident several months ago at the final summer concert series event, when chamber members were barred from entering the concert. Chamber members said they had permission from the local Veterans of Foreign War post, which participates in putting on the concerts, but Anker said she had only received word that they wanted to attend the day before, and that they did not have space for them. The chamber was allowed a single table at the concert, she added. Pollakusky said it was unfair she was able to attend and “campaign” at the concert while disallowing others.

This post has been amended from how it appeared in the Village Beacon Record to clarify Anker’s position on informational material for services provided by the county.

Legislator Sarah Anker and challenger Gary Pollakusky during a debate at the Sound Beach Firehouse. Photo by David Luces

County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) and Gary Pollakusky, the challenger, dueled at a meet the candidates night hosted by the Sound Beach Civic Association Oct. 14. Anker has served as the Suffolk County 6th District legislator for the past eight years and is seeking another two-year term. Pollakusky is looking to unseat the incumbent after an unsuccessful run for the same position in 2017. 

Here are some of the topics the candidates discussed. 

Suffolk’s fiscal situation

Pollakusky criticized how the county handles its finances. He said there have been seven bond downgrades since 2012 and the structural deficit is between $85 and $150 million. 

“We have raised taxes and fees by $200 million in the last eight years; we are not doing the right thing by our residents,” he said.  

Anker disagreed saying that the county has never had a junk bond status.

“We’ve never been there,” she said, adding the county has a AAA bond rating in long-term debt services.

“When I took office in 2011, there was a $500 million deficit, we changed that,” the legislator said. “We are anywhere near $50 to $60 million. We are cleaning up the house, we really are.”

The incumbent also said the county has since streamlined services, combined departments and reduced staff. 

Heroin/opioid epidemic  

Both candidates agreed that the opioid epidemic is still an ongoing problem on Long Island. 

Pollakusky said there are three ways to address the epidemic. He would look into finding prevention programs for schools whether they be assembly or curriculum based.  

The challenger touched on law enforcement. 

“Our law enforcement is so important to the process of fighting this opioid epidemic. We have hundreds of drug dealing homes along the North Shore,” he said. “These are consistent offenders, we don’t have enough boots on the ground, law enforcement is thinned staffed and that’s because our county is fiscally irresponsible.”

Pollakusky criticized Anker for voting to close the Foley center, a nursing and rehabilitation facility, saying treatment programs are few and far between. 

Anker defended her choice on the Foley center stating that it was losing $10 million a year, so the county executive thought it best to sell it. 

She spoke about her work as the chair of the Suffolk County Heroin and Opiate Epidemic Advisory Panel including beginning to institute Narcan workshops in the fight against opioids. 

“We are getting a lot done, we are cross communicating, networking, we are finding where the system is failing us,” she said. 

The incumbent brought up education as a key component.  

“We have to get to these kids when they are young, not to scare them, but to begin education in elementary and increase it into middle and high school,” she said.  

Red-light camera program/road safety

Anker said the red-light cameras are meant to protect residents and get drivers to stop and prevent accidents.  

She mentioned fatal accidents have decreased by 11 percent, but there was an increase in rear-end crashes that she considered unacceptable. She said she is frustrated with the program as it is not working as it should be. 

“The report I had commissioned failed to look into distracted driving,” she said. “I need to know if it’s a red light or [someone] being distracted. I’ve heard from law enforcement that its mostly distracted driving.” 

She also said there needs to be more educational driving programs for teens and adults. 

Pollakusky said if elected he would terminate the red-light program. 

“It has been a money grab for our county for some time, and they have just voted to extend this for another five years,” he said. 

The challenger called out Anker for commissioning another report on the program that cost taxpayers $250,000. 

He stated the report shows that accidents increased at intersections with red-light cameras and argued that yellow lights change quicker to red merely for profit.  

Development/infrastructure/housing

Anker said she would focus on creating a type of smart growth development where housing is built in one area so work can be done on the surrounding infrastructure.

She likened it to the Ronkonkoma hub development. The incumbent also proposed creating an eco-tourism hub located on the north end of the William Floyd Parkway, which would  support local businesses.  

“Tourism dollars have brought in $4 billion to Long Island,” she said. 

For housing, Anker would propose creating a millennial housing project similar to planned retirement communities that would be located near college campuses and transportation. She also mentioned the ongoing revitalization of downtown Rocky Point. 

Pollakusky said he is less concerned with development, as they are seeing seniors and college graduates leave the area and more empty business fronts in the area. 

“The problem is people are leaving because of taxes,” he said. “Expand the tax base, lower the residential tax burden by supporting businesses.”

The challenger said local businesses are important to the fabric of the community.   

“We need to inspire commerce and economic development,” he said.  

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker is running against Republican Gary Pollakusky to represent the 6th District. Photos by Alex Petroski

A Town of Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency volunteer and small business owner is challenging incumbent Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) as she vies for a fourth term to represent the 6th District.

Gary Pollakusky, a Rocky Point resident since 2012 who graduated from Baldwin High School and Cornell University, said he wants to bring more fiscal responsibility to the county while working to keep young people living on Long Island. He moved to Rocky Point from Long Beach following losing his home to Hurricane Sandy.

“You have to force the government to work within its means,” he said during a recent debate at TBR News Media’s office. “We need to treat the public’s purse like we treat our own. You don’t borrow from Peter to pay Paul.”

“I will continue to provide leadership in our county government by prioritizing fiscal responsibility, public safety and protecting our health and environment.”

— Sarah Anker

While Anker, a resident of Mount Sinai for more than 20 years, who previously lived in Middle Island and Coram, said she is fiscally conservative, Pollakusky pointed to Suffolk’s recent practice of borrowing to make payroll. He criticized Anker for calling for a traffic study following the release of a red-light camera program report and for voting for the $700 million contract between the county and the Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association. Though he was critical, he ultimately admitted he would have voted in favor of the contract as well, citing public safety as the primary reason.

“Each year our budget is going up $50 million and $48 million is going toward the police contract,” Pollakusky said. “We have to create sustainable contracts, we need people who understand business and have business acumen and financial acumen in government.”

Anker defended her track record on the Legislature. She voted against the controversial fees, which many have referred to as “backdoor taxes.” The legislator voted to reduce Suffolk County’s pipeline debt by closing out unused funds for unrealized capital projects; against the increase in mortgage recording fee, which would have gone up $300; against the alarm bill fee; against increased fees for Suffolk County parks; and against the proposed plastic bag fee that would charge 5 cents per bag at the grocery store.

“I also feel if you don’t have the money don’t spend it, but unfortunately, you have to provide services, it’s mandated by the government,” Anker said, adding that she took a pay freeze and also voted to freeze other legislators’ salaries. “We combined comptroller with treasurer’s office, saved $23 million by privatizing the health care centers, sold the Foley Center, reduced staff by 1,000 people, cut county services costs by 10 percent and I think we still have a lot to do.”

Democrat incumbent Legislator Sarah Anker is running for her fourth term as the 6th District representative in the Suffolk County Legislature. Photo by Alex Petroski

She fell in agreement with her challenger regarding the SCPD contract, as she said it’s important to have boots on the ground amid the opioid crisis and rise in gang violence, but said she’s still hoping the county can make cuts at the negotiation table next year when the existing deal expires.

“We have a new police class which contributes to 15 percent of their health care,” she said. “It takes them longer to reach the highest pension payout; we’re revamping the whole system once these senior officers retire. Overtime should not be included in pensions, and the best thing I can do, and I’ve done this for 20 years, is to advocate strongly — shine a light and let the county executive and police unions know that this needs to be done. I can be one of many voices to direct them to do the right thing; to have a bully pulpit and use it effectively.”

The legislator highlighted her sponsored legislation passed to create a permanent heroin and opiate advisory panel, re-established from a temporary 2010 panel, created to ensure a continuous and interdisciplinary approach to help mitigate the issue. Her challenger cited the panel’s few recommendations the last time around and said he has a more active approach he would take.

“I want to identify programs, like the Given a Second Chance program developed locally four years ago, and keep the heroin crisis more consistent in curriculum and assemblies,” Pollakusky said, also highlighting his panel work with his organization, North Shore Community Association. “We need community coalitions to push law enforcement to close down drug-dealing homes and more drug reform on the supply side.”

While Pollakusky said his organization, which is not a registered nonprofit, was created in 2013, there is no mention on the website or Facebook page prior to June, when he announced his run against Anker.

“We need to look at storefronts that left and see why, see what true development we’re doing and how it’s being led.”

— Gary Pollakusky

“The association began with a small group of community advocates who felt there was a void in their local civics organizations,” he said in response. “No money flows in or our of our group. When we raise money it is through and for 501(c)(3) organizations in need, and much of our work has no events
associated with them.”

The challenger said he is more business friendly than Anker, and his time working with the town IDA has helped him. He said by retaining talent and creating jobs, keeping residents on Long Island is more attainable.

“We need to look at storefronts that left and see why, see what true development we’re doing and how it’s being led,” he said. “I act. I create jobs.”

Anker questioned his businesses, saying he outsources jobs to countries other than the United States for Media Barrel LLC and Travel Barrel LLC. Pollakusky responded that they are support teams not employees, to which Anker responded: “Do they do your work for you? Do you have [products] that are made in the United States? That’s all I’m asking.”

“For you to perpetrate these lies I not only find disappointing, I find that shameful,” Pollakusky said, asking Anker if she owns a car, television or phone made in the United States. “I am a local businessman. I work within our local economy, I have local clients.”

Republican Gary Pollakusky is running to represent Suffolk County’s 6th legislative district. Photo by Alex Petroski

Travel Barrell only lists some of the events that Pollakusky discussed, many of which are unclickable. The website’s About Us, Our Brands, Testimonials and Contact Us tabs also do not work. Anker questioned her challenger about an event called Boobs & Tubes, also listed on the website, which he referred to as a charity event that donates to breast cancer research. Based on online photos and videos of the event, referred to as “the most fun you can have with (some of) your clothes on,” it is marketed as an exclusive weekend summer event of camping, tubing, barbecuing, music and relaxation. The 2017 New York trip was canceled. Pollakusky’s last name is the only last name not in the About Us and the only mention of charity is deep in the About Us: “After Scott lost his friend Marcelo Vandrie to cancer in 2009, Boobs & Tubes began donating a portion of its proceeds to a different charitable event each year.” There is no mention of how much or to which charities the organization contributes anywhere on the website.

Anker cited several initiatives she’s proud of contributing to locally, including land acquisition with the Little Portion Friary in Mount Sinai and Cordwood Landing property in Miller Place to preserve more open space, a single-stream recycling program and work with veterans and seniors.

“I will fight for lower utility costs and continue to educate residents about common scams,” said Anker, who used to serve on the Mount Sinai Civic Association and worked on major projects like the construction of Heritage Park and ongoing Rails to Trails recreational path. “I will continue to provide leadership in our county government by prioritizing fiscal responsibility, public safety and protecting our health and environment. I will stand strong to support our veterans who have defended our nation. I will do everything in my power to protect our children. I will use my extensive experience in public policy to create safer communities for families and to improve the overall quality of life for Suffolk County residents.”

This version was updated to correctly identify what year Gary Pollakusky moved to Rocky Point and the names of his companies. The version also adds what university he graduated from.

President of the North Shore Community Association Gary Pollakusky, on left, who is running for legislator of the 6th district, with Rocky Point resident Ann Mattarella, who lost her son to drug addiction. The two were at a press conference in Rocky Point letting the public know of upcoming community forums related to drug addiction education. Photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

As heroin and opiate-related deaths continue to rattle Suffolk County and devastate families, those personally affected are rallying the masses to help them stop the growing drug problem before it starts.

Tracey Farrell, president of North Shore Drug Awareness, talks to Rocky Point residents about the importance of educating youth on the effects and possible results of drug addiction. Photo by Kevin Redding

Residents holding pictures and wearing shirts covered in the names of loved ones who died from heroin, opiate and fentanyl overdoses stood together July 6 as Gary Pollakusky, president of the nonpartisan North Shore Community Association, announced the launch of a series of drug education and awareness-based community forums to be held at local school districts — starting Thursday, July 13, at Rocky Point Middle School. Pollakusky is running for Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker’s (D-Mount Sinai) seat, and has been backed by the Republican

The group, which was formed in 2013 to ensure transparency and advocate for local areas like Mount Sinai, Miller Place and Rocky Point, has kickstarted the forums alongside advocacy organizations Hugs Inc. and Thomas’ Hope Foundation, individuals in recovery and families and first responders who have witnessed the worsening problem firsthand. Collectively, all involved plan to lay a foundation for bigger and better drug awareness curriculums and assembly programs to be implemented in elementary, middle and high schools.

The mission is to prevent as many first-time users as possible by emphasizing the consequences of drugs to kids while pushing legislators to support stronger enforcement initiatives and treatment options.

Pollakusky said, at this point, the community can no longer rely on action to be taken by elected officials or school administrators.

“The families who have lost loved ones and those who are dealing with the results of this epidemic are outraged at our county government’s lack of action and responsiveness, and are looking to our community to come together to push for more drug awareness education and enforcement … now,” Pollakusky said to a crowd of local residents and first responders at Veterans Memorial Square in Rocky Point.

Tracey Farrell, a Rocky Point resident and president of the non-profits North Shore Drug Awareness and On Kevin’s Wings, knows both sides of the plague, as her son Kevin died of an overdose in 2012, and her daughter Breanna is currently three years in recovery.

“Children … they need to be afraid to ever try it and I don’t understand how they’re watching people die in the multitudes on a daily basis, and [they don’t want to educate].”

— Ann Mattarella

“We have organized this forum so that children and families can get more information on how to overcome this scourge and not feel alone in the battle,” she said. “It is imperative that our educational system consistently works to inform. … We are looking to support our community by having all of the community rise up and deal with this situation head-on.”

She said that while far too many lose their lives to these drugs, there’s hope for those that are still struggling and those who have yet to try anything. She has seen many overcome addiction through her nonprofit On Kevin’s Wings, which helps raise funds for those who can’t afford to get into, or get transportation to rehabilitation centers.

“It’s gotten so much worse, and now more than ever I need for people to use their voices because collectively we can make a difference,” Farrell said. “We need to shout from the rooftops that we need to look out for the next generation of kids. No one right now is willing to step up and we need that to change.”

Farrell said through these forums, she hopes to eventually implement a mandatory curriculum or program across the state, but added while many school districts in the area are on board for this type of serious drug education across the age groups, some parents don’t want to expose it their children to the harsh realities at such a young age.

Rocky Point resident Ann Mattarella, whose 29-year-old son died of an overdose, said she believes the younger the better when it comes to education.

Brian, Lauren and Nick Nardone speak about the loss of their sister and daughter to drug addiction. Photo by Kevin Redding

“There is no question to me that this needs to be brought up at an elementary school level,” Mattarella said, holding a framed collage of photos of her son. “Children need to be afraid to do this — they need to be afraid to ever try it and I don’t understand how they’re watching people die in the multitudes on a daily basis, and [they don’t want to educate]. Something has to be done to scare these children.”

Brian Nardone, a Rocky Point high school student whose sister died in 2008 battling a heroin addiction when he was just 6 years old, said drug education in the classroom is not handled as seriously as it should be.

“They go through it for a week and basically say ‘drugs are bad, don’t do drugs,’ but they don’t really emphasize the consequences of what can happen,” Nardone said, standing alongside his mother, Lauren, and father, Nick. “Frankly, I feel people should be going on the local, state and even national level just to show what’s going on in this country. You don’t know it exists until it happens to you. Ignorance kills.”

Pollakusky said the organization will pursue local small businesses and parent-teacher organizations to help fund an assembly program and hope to get the attention of elected officials and community leaders as their initiative grows.

The first community forum will be held Thursday, July 13, at Rocky Point Middle School from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Sarah Anker talks local issues at a debate at Times Beacon Record Newspapers. Photo by Elana Glowatz

By Kevin Redding

As Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) gears up to run a campaign in the hopes of serving the 6th District for a fourth term, two political newcomers — Republicans Gary Pollakusky and Frank Vetro — also each hope to occupy the seat in November.

Anker, who assumed office in 2011 and won her last election by a total 19 votes, said the most important part of running for public office is knowing the community. As someone who’s lived in the area for more than 30 years, she said her experience “literally trumps the [predominantly Republican] political system.”

“I will continue to do my job working for the people and not for the party,”
said Anker, who founded the Community Health and Environmental Coalition, advocated to build Heritage Park in Mount Sinai
and created the Jobs Opportunity Board connecting graduating seniors with local jobs. She has also provided sports safety forums to local schools to prevent deaths and serious injuries among student-athletes, helped reduce county government costs by streamlining services, and takes pride in being heavily involved with civic groups and always being accessible to constituents.

The legislator said she wants to build a stronger economy by revitalizing our communities, sustaining the district’s environment and continuing her work in the prevention and intervention of those addicted to opioids.

“I think I’ve proven myself through my past experience [through] community advocacy and by getting the jobs done,” she said. “I’m here to serve for our quality of life and environmental legacy.”

Gary Pollakusky

Gary Pollakusky

Pollakusky, 41, a Rocky Point resident who served as campaign manager for Anker’s 2015 Republican challenger Steve Tricarico, and recently secured the Republican nomination, said he believes Suffolk County is in the greatest physical crisis it has ever faced in our history.

“After 10 years of Democrat control … we have an opioid problem that is out of control, and gangs and drugs are pushing into our community like they belong here,” he said.

If elected, he said he aims to fix the county’s outstanding debt, eliminate excessive fees, make the area more affordable to its seniors and young people, stamp out the opioid problem and do more to support small businesses.

As the self-starter of Media Barrel LLC, a Rocky Point-based marketing and advertising business that strives to solve problems for companies and various local organizations, Pollakusky said his business experience and community activism will support his candidacy and ultimately his election.

“Beyond the barbecues and concert series are very important issues that need to be addressed,” Pollakusky said. “How are we going to get out of debt? How are we going to inspire companies to stay in Suffolk and on Long Island? This is what I do for a living. I help businesses solve problems by giving them solutions. I will bring business into the county, and work on our debt and balance our budget.”

On his opponent, Pollakusky said while Anker is well meaning, he said he thinks she’s misguided and ineffective.

“I help businesses solve problems by giving them solutions. I will bring business into the county and work on our debt and balance our budget.”

— Gary Pollakusky

“We’re in a pretty sad state,” Pollakusky said. “Not a lot has changed in our county since 2015. You know we’ve hit rock bottom when our county legislator is more concerned with making a pocket park surrounding a boulder than figuring out ways to actually retain the structural deficit. We’re drowning in debt and she wants to sink us with a rock.”

Upon graduating from Cornell University with a bachelor of science degree in industrial labor relations, Pollakusky ran the human resource department of AHL Services before working at Columbia Business School as assistant director of admissions.

Outside of his small business, he said he created the nonpartisan North Shore Community Association in 2013 to tackle community problems through transparency and advocacy, including educational drug forums. He was recently among Long Island Business News’ 40 Under 40 Awards list.

A former resident of Long Beach, Pollakusky and his wife, Jeanine, moved to Rocky Point after Hurricane Sandy destroyed their home. He said he loves the hamlet’s close-knit community.

“We love our open space, our beaches, our main street, small-town lives and the people,” he said. “We have such amazing people here that would do anything for their neighbors. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.”

Frank Vetro

Frank Vetro

Vetro, 45, the host of a LI News Radio show, a real estate agent and longtime educator from Miller Place, is currently in the process of gathering petitions to run against Pollakusky in the September primary. He said although he isn’t used to the political world, speaking publicly to residents on the radio for years pushed him to throw his hat in the ring.

“My listeners, after hearing me day in and day out, would always say, ‘Why don’t you run? You should run, you’re passionate, you really care,’” said Vetro, who wants to stamp out county corruption. “I have always fought for underdogs.”

He also discussed keeping the area affordable to those young and old.

“A last straw for me was that me and my family are so close, and a lot of my family is moving off Long Island because of the cost of living and better opportunities elsewhere,” he said. “I’m losing them and I can’t take it anymore — the taxes, the mismanagement, people being in office and leadership positions not on their merit but because they knew somebody. When is enough, enough?”

Vetro said his daily experiences, educating and rehabilitating young gang members and drug addicts, give him an advantage over other politicians.

“I think when you have your finger on the pulse and you’re in the trenches doing it, it gives you a better understanding of what’s going on,” Vetro said.

“A last straw for me was that me and my family are so close, and a lot of my family is moving off Long Island because of the cost of living.”

— Frank Vetro

As a principal at Hope House Ministries School, Vetro said he works with youth in great crisis, some of whom have been kicked out of school, and he helps them get reacclimated to a “normal” life. He said working with recovering addicts puts him in close quarters to what he sees as a major problem in New York.

“My body of work sits hand in hand with what’s going on on Long Island,” he said of the opioid crisis.

His job as a realtor, he added, gives him hands-on knowledge of the housing market.

In 2006, while principal of Hampton Bays High School, Vetro was arrested for alleged phone harassment of several women. He pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges, which were later reduced to violations. Ever since, he has been fighting corruption in the court system and rebuilding his life, and even wrote a book last year called “Standing on Principal,” detailing his arrest and injustices he faced.

“I know about Suffolk County corruption better than anybody and what I do to help people and what I stand for … I really, in my heart, believe that I’m the most qualified,” he said.