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Jane Bonner

Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner presents civic president Bea Ruberto with the Sound Beach Day proclamation. Photo by Samantha Rutt

By Samantha Rutt

The past was alive as the Sound Beach Civic Association gathered with members, friends, family and neighbors at the Heritage Center in Mount Sinai Sunday, May 5, to celebrate 50 years of serving the community. Students from the Rocky Point High School band played as eventgoers gathered.

 Bea Ruberto, the civic’s current president, organized the event, which included a silent auction of almost 50 baskets and a 50/50 raffle. After taking the audience on a tour along New York Avenue of the projects that have made Sound Beach what it is today, she announced that the civic is launching a new revitalization initiative. Under this initiative, the proceeds from the auction — almost $1,000 was raised — are earmarked for the children’s park on New York Avenue.

The Sound Beach civic filed a certificate of incorporation in 1974 with the purposes of promoting the civic and general welfare of Sound Beach, disseminating information on ordinances affecting the area and promoting a more friendly relationship among the hamlet’s residents. Ruberto said, “It didn’t take long for the association to start making waves on several fronts.”

Vilma Rodriguez, who was an officer of the association in its early days, shared what life was like back then in giving an account of the many improvements identified and advocated by the association. Ruberto, who wrote a book on the history of Sound Beach — “Sound Beach: Our Town, Our Story” — said that over the years she learned a lot from Rodriguez. 

Several local elected officials presented the civic with proclamations acknowledging the service it has provided Sound Beach: Suffolk County Executive Ed Romaine (R), U.S. Rep. Nick LaLota (R-NY1) through Peter Ganley, his director of operations, and New York State Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk). Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) presented a proclamation deeming May 5 Sound Beach Civic Association Day in the Town of Brookhaven. District 1 congressional candidate, Nancy Goroff (D-Stony Brook), and District 1 state Senate candidate, Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai), were also in attendance. 

Ruberto ended the program with the message, “not with the past but with the future.” She said the civic has been committed to engaging young people in public service as it helps grow the next generation of the civically-minded local population. So, the present will become the future for all in Sound Beach. 

Ernestine Franco contributed to this story.

Photos courtesy Councilwoman Jane Bonner

On April 7, Councilwoman Jane Bonner was joined by County, State and Federal officials at the “Take Back 25” litter clean-up along Route 25 [Middle Country Road] in Coram, Middle Island, Gordon Heights and Ridge. 

The event was sponsored by the Town of Brookhaven, the Coram Civic Association and the Longwood Central Schools. 

Community members gaze upon the military wall of honor during the grand opening of the Suffolk County World War II and Military History Museum in Rocky Point on Thursday, Dec. 7. Photos by Raymond Janis

The Rocky Point community ushered in history Thursday, Dec. 7, welcoming hundreds to the hamlet to launch the Suffolk County World War II and Military History Museum at the former Rocky Point train station.

In a grand opening ceremony featuring speeches from Rocky Point VFW Post 6249 members, musical performances by local students and even a military flyover, the event formally opened the highly anticipated regional veterans museum to the public.

Attending the event included various public officials, such as Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point), Suffolk County Legislator Nick Caracappa (C-Selden) and a representative of Congressman Nick LaLota (R-NY1).

The museum showcases various exhibits spotlighting the stories of local veterans. Uniforms, combat gear and memorabilia are out on display. The centerpiece, situated just outside the complex, is a military wall of honor with hundreds of names of local vets.

Joe Cognitore, commander of VFW Post 6249, declared that Thursday’s event was the realization of years of planning. “This is a vision we had many, many years ago, and this vision finally came true today,” he said.

Cognitore thanked the museum’s curator, post member and history teacher Rich Acritelli, for his considerable effort in preparing the museum for launch. “This museum is unbelievable,” the post commander explained. “It’s amazing what he did inside with such little time and little space.”

In his remarks, Acritelli outlined the objectives of the museum. “This story represents the countless Long Island people that have had numerous family members that have served within the Armed Forces and supported America within every military conflict,” he said.

Chronicling the vast contributions that went into the museum’s rollout, the curator added how the facility represents a moment of community building for Greater Rocky Point and beyond. “While there is a small percentage of the population who actually enter the military, the Armed Forces are embedded within every American family,” he noted. “Working on this veterans project, you watch how almost every person said they had a cousin, brother, father, aunt, close friend, mom, who was in uniform and wanted to recognize them for their patriotic efforts and sacrifices.”

Now, their stories are on display for the public. The museum is located at 7 Prince Road, Rocky Point.

The historical structure at Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe underwent significant structural damage after a fire on Tuesday, Nov. 21. Photo courtesy Tesla Science Center

Just days before the fire erupted, the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe was marching along a path toward prosperity.

Center officials held a gala Nov. 16, announcing a $1.15 million installment of capital funding toward its anticipated $20 million restoration and redevelopment project.

Earlier, the center broke ground on the project, with demolition ongoing.

The center was ushering in a new era in its storied history.

“We were never in better shape,” said TSCW Executive Director Mark Alessi. “We were finally making the progress we had been working so hard for for many years.”

That’s when the flames broke loose.

Last Tuesday, Nov. 21, a conflagration — the cause of which is still unknown — enveloped the historic building on-site, designed by famed architect Stanford White.

In the aftermath, center officials are working to remediate the situation. During a press event on Tuesday, Nov. 28, Mark Thaler, partner at Thaler Reilly Wilson Architecture & Preservation of Albany, reported that the original building was “fireproof for the most part,” noting that the original brick walls remain standing after the fire.

“We have lost some of the roof structure, which will be able to be restored, and we’re poised and ready to do that,” he said, adding that the ensuing stages include cleaning out the building, securing the walls and drying out the interior.

Mission Rebuild

Given the extent of the damages, the center is now calling upon benefactors from both near and far to bolster the restoration work.

Coined Mission Rebuild, the nonprofit has launched a $3 million emergency fund drive on Indiegogo. Mission Rebuild represents a separate fundraising effort from the $20 million redevelopment campaign. 

Public officials from across levels of government attended Tuesday’s event, pledging their support.

“This is a really important historic site — not just for this county or this state or this country but worldwide,” said New York State Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk). “We will do everything we can without question on the state level to continue to get the funding you need to get this project to the end.”

Deputy Suffolk County Executive Jon Kaiman said, “Buildings can burn down and then be rebuilt. The ideas behind them — the person, the history, the narrative that was created over 100 years ago — still exist.”

The deputy county executive continued, “Because the story behind it is so strong, so important, so relevant, we know that we can all stand together and continue this journey that was started so long ago.”

Suffolk County Legislator-elect Chad Lennon (R-Rocky Point) thanked the local firefighters “for taking such care” in extinguishing the fire while preserving the structure. Despite the setback to the organization’s momentum, he pledged to help the center continue carrying out its mission. 

“It was one step back, and we’re going to take two steps forward,” Lennon maintained.

Also attending the press event, Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) sang an optimistic tune: “Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, this Tesla Center will rise as well,” she forecasted. “We will help you raise your money. We will get you back to where you were,” adding, “At the end of the day, Tesla was successful — and so will the Tesla Science Museum and this organization.”

To donate to Mission Rebuild, please visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/fire-at-tesla-s-lab-immediate-restoration-needed.

Amid whipping winds and frigid waves, hundreds of Long Islanders braved the conditions this weekend for a good cause at Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai.

Whether they were dressed as penguins, donned knitted turkeys on their heads or wore next to nothing at all, they all dove in the roughly 45-degree water, raising money for the Special Olympics New York during the Town of Brookhaven’s 14th annual Freezin’ for a Reason Polar Plunge.

Rebecca Hoffmann, director of development at Special Olympics New York and one of the lead organizers of this event, could not remember the conditions being so — ahem — unbearable for the plungers, and she appreciated each and every hardy soul who participated.

“The Special Olympics is super thankful to the plunging community for coming out and not letting the really cold conditions stop them,” said Hoffmann, who has run the Brookhaven plunge for two years and been with the Special Olympics for eight. “Over 600 people went in the water, and they raised over $140,000, which is good enough to sponsor 350 Special Olympic athletes for a year.”

She added, “I think it is truly amazing to see the community rally together in support of our special athletes.”

The $140,000 raised in 2023 surpassed the total from 2022 by $12,000.

But due to the harsher than expected conditions, a maximum of six people were permitted per plunge this time around. The teams took turns in two-minute intervals, running into the inhospitable waters of the Long Island Sound.

Some chose to go up to their ankles while others fully submerged themselves — a few hooligans even snapping a few selfies while doing so as if it were the middle of August.

One such group — a foursome known as Team Freezin’ Minions — treated the arctic surf like it was their own personal bathtub, dunked themselves into the drink decked out in full-length emperor penguin costumes.

Crystal Vega, captain of the Minions, has been polar plunging for eight years.

“We are so happy to support the Special Olympics today,” said Vega, whose team raised $6,636 despite her losing a water shoe in the Sound. “This is the roughest water I can ever remember, so trying to stay safe and getting the full ‘plunge’ experience was a little difficult, but we survived,” adding, “All of us, except my shoe.”

Other teams included the Arctic Zebras, the North Pole Karens, the Sassy Swimmers, groups of philanthropic students from Port Jefferson, Ward Melville, Mount Sinai and Miller Place high schools as well as Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner’s (R-Rocky Point) Frozen Eagles, who raised over $4,000 this year. Bonner has jumped in 13 out of 14 Brookhaven plunges, missing only in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Plungers started hitting the icy waters at about 11:30 a.m., but the festivities kicked off hours early with a few brave souls enjoying hot chocolate, coffee and egg sandwiches as they nervously paced around the Cedar Beach parking lot, awaiting their inevitable appointment with the water.

The Suffolk County Civil Service Employees Association — aka the CSEA Crazies — provided their famous potato soup and spicy chili. They are familiar faces at Cedar Beach in November.

“We’ve been out here at the Polar Plunge since the beginning — all 13 years,” said Bob Brandow, a member of the Crazies who is responsible for making 100 quarts of chili. “Whatever money we get for the food we sell, in addition to the funds we raise via sponsorships, all goes to the Special Olympics. It’s a great cause.”

Team Sachem raised the most money, bringing in over $19,000 with Team Extraordinary in second with $14,500 and Big Ed’s Big Hearts in third with $12,700.

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%.

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

Romaine is what county government needs

Ed Romaine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Panico will provide needed reform for Brookhaven town government

Dan Panico

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kaplan would put service first as Brookhaven highway superintendent

Michael Kaplan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Englebright’s record speaks for itself

 

Steve Englebright

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kornreich is a champion for Council District 1

Jonathan Kornreich

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marcoccia is a dutiful department head

Louis Marcoccia

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

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

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

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

Cavalier will bring continuity to the 6th Legislative District

Dorothy Cavalier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bonner is an ambassador for Brookhaven’s 2nd District

Jane Bonner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caracappa will show up for 4th District residents

Nick Caracappa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leslie Kennedy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

McCarthy will do the job of Smithtown town clerk

Tom McCarthy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trotta adds a healthy dose of pessimism to county government

Rob Trotta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don McKay
Jen Hebert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Theresa Mari

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner, left, and attorney Carol Russell debate the issues facing the town’s 2nd Council District. Photo by Raymond Janis

This year, incumbent Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) is defending her seat against attorney Carol Russell (D-Coram).

The district lines for Council District 2 shifted substantially due to last year’s redistricting process. Covering the northeastern hamlets from Mount Sinai to Wading River, the district expanded southward and received a sizable chunk of Coram.

In a debate at the TBR office with the two candidates, Bonner, who was first elected to the office in 2007 and has held the seat ever since, explained the motivations behind her reelection bid. “I think my record has proven itself — hands-on, full time, civic-minded,” Bonner said. “I’ve been instrumental in putting the town on the right track, and I’m looking forward to serving four more years.”

Her opponent is a former critical care nurse who transitioned into the law and spent three decades representing nurses. After ending her legal practice in 2017, Russell became a more active member in her family farm business in Coram.

She cited her community involvement efforts, such as mentoring with the Dress for Success Brookhaven program and volunteering for the mock trial team at Longwood High School.

“I’ve been a patient advocate, a legal advocate, a women’s advocate … and I’m a voter-protection advocate,” she said.

Quality of life

In speaking with CD2 residents, Russell highlighted affordability and taxes as a paramount policy concern. She said public safety, particularly the opioid crisis, has been a significant local concern.

“Overdevelopment and the environment are big concerns of a lot of people,” she said. “We want to keep our open space. We don’t need any more 5,000-square-foot, multifamily, million-dollar homes. We need workforce housing. We need redevelopment of our blighted areas … and our abandoned properties.”

She also suggested that the town’s permitting process could be streamlined.

For Bonner, crime and public safety are her highest priorities. She said the district is seeing a high volume of “squatting issues” and vacant homes that have stalled in the foreclosure process.

She said preserving open space remains a critical policy focus for the 2nd District. “I was instrumental in helping to preserve the over 700 acres in Wading River that was slated to be clear cut for a solar farm,” the incumbent said. “I was instrumental in helping craft that legislation that you can’t clear cut woods to create solar farms.”

She added that being mindful of the tax burden on residents remains another quality-of-life concern for her.

Vacant storefronts

Lining some of the primary commercial corridors within CD2, such as state routes 25 and 25A, are vacant storefronts, signaling a difficulty in attracting and sustaining businesses within the area.

Bonner supported adjusting land-use policies to adapt to the new commercial real estate climate created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As we evolve out of this pandemic, we need to go back and adjust these land-use plans to allow for different uses than [those that] were originally adopted,” she indicated. “And we’ve started to do that.”

Russell referred to these blighted commercial areas as “very complicated.” She called for creating a master plan to guide the development of these commercial zones. “I think we really need to find a good, comprehensive plan to bring back the stores and the commercial industry,” she said. “It’s changed over the years, but it hasn’t changed that dramatically since COVID.”

The challenger added, “People want to shop local. They want to be engaged with the business owners. … I just think we need to do better with a comprehensive development plan to redevelop those blighted areas.”

Traffic/pedestrian safety

Russell stated that “the roads around here are horrible.” She raised concern over trail crossings, advocating for roadway reconfigurations at these intersections. She also supported other pedestrian safety enhancements to promote walkability in places with greater foot traffic.

“We need more sidewalks,” she said. “Wherever there are shopping centers and strip malls, and particularly where they are crossing the street, we need to have sidewalks so people can park on one side and get to the other side if they need to.”

Bonner cited a recent article referring to 25 and 25A as among the most dangerous state routes on Long Island. To ameliorate traffic safety concerns, she said she has coordinated with the town’s Highway Department in obtaining grants for sidewalks, driver-feedback devices and striping.

She said continued collaboration with the New York State Department of Transportation, which oversees the state roadways, remains challenging. “I will tell you that the DOT is one of the most difficult agencies to deal with,” she said. “We work with other partners in government on the roads that [the town is] not responsible for, but they are responsible to help bring about some traffic-calming measures.”

Affordability

Throughout the region, seniors and young people are becoming priced out, fleeing the region for places with a lower cost of living. Given the land-use powers within town government, Bonner said the town is already pursuing some “large-scale affordability projects” within the district.

“The Mount Sinai Meadows project and the amenities that they offer will be geared toward millennials to keep them on the North Shore and in the community in which they grew up,” the councilwoman indicated.

She added that wastewater remains a factor in supporting new residential units. “We lack sewers on Long Island, especially on the North Shore,” she said. “I have every confidence that whoever our next county executive is he is going to figure out this sewer bill” — referring to the county’s Water Quality Restoration Act — “so we can hit the ground running regarding affordability projects for our seniors” and youth.

For Russell, promoting affordability starts with reforms within the Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency. “I think the Town Council has the responsibility when it appoints members of the IDA to not reappoint them if they’re not bringing in affordable housing — workforce housing,” she said. “That’s what’s going to keep our students when they graduate here. That’s what’s going to keep our seniors here.”

She agreed with the incumbent’s assessment of the need for modernized wastewater infrastructure but said the 2nd District would likely require Innovative/Alternative septic systems instead of sewers. She advocated for the town to take greater initiative in modernizing the area’s wastewater systems.

“I think what has to happen is a little less of, ‘That’s the county’s job,’ or, ‘That’s the state’s job,’ and a little more of, ‘We all need to be working together,’” Russell said, adding, “All of the departments have to be working together.”

Voters will get the final say on these two candidates Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Participants rush toward frigid water at Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai during the Town of Brookhaven’s 2022 Freezin’ for a Reason Polar Plunge event. This year’s plunge will take place Nov. 18. File photo by Raymond Janis
By Samantha Rutt

Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) started last Thursday’s Oct. 19 Town Board meeting with a moment of silence acknowledging the foreign conflicts overseas in Gaza and Ukraine. Romaine encouraged the board and all attendees to “pray for peace in this troubled world of ours.”

Before addressing the amendments, authorizations and related public business, Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) held a presentation introducing the Town of Brookhaven’s annual Freezin’ for a Reason Polar Plunge event. The event will take place Nov. 18 at Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai.

The board approved a designated area in the Smith Haven Mall to be a drop-off center for toys in conjunction with the 2023 Toy Drive, held yearly during the holiday season.

The board then set a date for a public hearing on the renewal of the Cable Television Franchise Agreement between the Town of Brookhaven and Suffolk Cable Corporation (Cablevision/Altice). The public hearing for this case will be held Nov. 16 at 2:30 p.m.

The board amended the Policies and Procedures Manual for the Home Investment Partnership Program. The H.O.M.E. program is a federal initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that aims to provide state and local governments with funds to support affordable housing initiatives, especially for low-income individuals and families.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The board acknowledged those diagnosed with breast cancer in the Town of Brookhaven each year, declaring October 2023 Breast Cancer Awareness Month, promoting breast cancer awareness and drawing attention to thousands of individuals facing breast cancer diagnoses each year.

With Halloween fast approaching, the Teal Pumpkin Project is back once again. The TPP was established to provide nonfood treats on and around Halloween for children with food allergies, medical digestive disorders and other dietary restrictions. In this week’s meeting, the board noted its support for the seasonal project, which seeks to benefit all children through nonfood treat options for trick-or-treaters. To participate in the project, participants should print the Teal Pumpkin Project sign and display it where it is visible for trick-or-treaters.

To continue inclusivity and community engagement, the board declared Nov. 15 as the Town of Brookhaven Recycles Day to further promote local awareness and participation in the town’s recycling efforts. 

The board will meet again Thursday, Nov. 9, at 5 p.m. for the budget public hearing.

Sound Beach residents and public officials rally outside the hamlet’s post office on New York Avenue Wednesday, Sept. 6. Photo by Sabrina Artusa
By Sabrina Artusa

Sound Beach’s residents and political representatives are fed up over the prolonged closure of the hamlet’s post office on New York Avenue, which has been closed for repairs since May.

New York State Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk), Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point), among others, rallied outside the post office Wednesday, Sept. 6, putting pressure on the U.S. Postal Service and the property owner to expedite reopening of the complex.

Some 15 weeks ago, the Brooklyn-based property owner of the building posted a sign on the door informing of its immediate but temporary closure. Sound Beach residents, blindsided by the abruptness, were forced to wait over a week to receive mail from nearby offices.

The private property owner has largely been unreceptive to attempts to reach out, according to Chad Lennon, a representative of U.S. Congressman Nick LaLota (R-NY1).

“We’ve been communicating,” Lennon said. “We haven’t seen reciprocation.”

USPS replied once, informing LaLota that they expected the landowner to make repairs and reopen the post office by Sept. 8. Despite this, the property owner hasn’t filed any permits for work on the building to date. Needless to say the office was not opened on Sept. 8.

The town is prepared to conduct an analysis of the building, along with repairs, when permitted. There are “building engineers on staff to come in this building and know right away what it needs to be up to code,” Palumbo said. “This is absolutely unacceptable.”

Palumbo suggested the landowner is “slow walking” the process while continuing to get rent from the federal government.

“You should not have to pay for services you don’t get,” Romaine said. “Just as the federal government shouldn’t pay taxes for a building that’s closed.”

Palumbo, meanwhile, considered the town “the most important entity” in prompting action and incurring change.

“The owners of this property need to be held accountable and held responsible to do the right thing,” Bonner said. “Bring this post office back to the residents and the community of Sound Beach.”

Some residents had time-sensitive packages, such as medication, that they were not receiving. One woman said that the contents had melted by the time she did received her package.

“We walked by one day, and it was closed,” said Patty Blasberg, who has lived in Sound Beach for 33 years. “That should be public knowledge,” adding that the post office closure “is detrimental to our community.”

Many in attendance, including Bonner, said that in a small hamlet like Sound Beach, the post office is vital to the “community’s identity.”

Blasberg said she always enjoyed the social aspect of going to the post office, where she could see her neighbors. “We want the community to thrive,” she said. “You can’t do that without a post office.”

According to Shirley Smith, another Sound Beach resident, the post office has needed repairs for a while and mentioned a leaking ceiling.