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Sound Beach Civic Association

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.

Kevin Mann, president of the Rocky Point Rotary Club, announced that the local area has become the 402nd International City of Peace at this week’s Sound Beach Civic Assocation meeting. Photo by Inge Goldstein

By Ernestine Franco

The meeting started with a short history by Bea Ruberto, president of the civic, who stated that on Aug. 16, 1974, the Sound Beach Civic Association filed a certificate of incorporation with the purposes of promoting the civic and general welfare of Sound Beach, disseminating information on ordinances and laws affecting the area and promoting a more engaged and friendly relationship among the residents of Sound Beach.

On May 5, from 2 to 5 p.m., the civic will hold a celebration commemorating 50 years of serving the Sound Beach community at the Heritage Center in Mount Sinai. Students from the Rocky Point High School Music Department will provide music from about 2 to 3 p.m. 

Ruberto explained that admission is free but because of limited seating, reservations are required. To reserve a seat, email the civic at [email protected]. 

A raffle auction at the event will launch a new civic revitalization initiative, Ruberto said, adding, “We continue to being committed to doing whatever we can for the economic improvement, beautification and overall quality of life issues in the hamlet of Sound Beach.” Proceeds from the raffle auction are earmarked for the children’s park on New York Avenue.

International City of Peace

Kevin Mann, president of Rocky Point Rotary Club, and Patrice Perreca, civic membership chair, made an important announcement: The area encompassing Rocky Point, Miller Place, Shoreham-Wading River and Middle Island school districts has become the 402nd International City of Peace in the global network of 75 countries on six continents.

First and foremost in this global adventure is to reject violence and become people of peace. International Cities of Peace is an association of communities that, by history or proclamation or concerted community peace building, are doing just that by self-defining their cities or neighborhoods as official Cities of Peace. This redefinition requires building a consensus network of business, government and community leaders who value safety, prosperity and quality of life. Then the work begins with a vision that delivers on the promise of a deep and empowering culture of peace. 

As part of the local Corridor of Peace, Mann explained that residents need to “come up with three things that will increase peace” in their hamlets. Perreca will head this program in Sound Beach.

Brookhaven National Lab presentation

Rounding out the evening was Amy Engel, manager of environmental and community engagement at Brookhaven National Laboratory, who initially gave a short history of BNL, its science and the impact it has on the local economy. She discussed some of the programs offered at the lab: Educational programs for K-12, undergraduate and graduate students; fire management and prescribed burns; upcoming plans for the electron ion collider; and exciting developments in its medical isotope program, which helps cure cancer.

She encouraged anyone who may be looking for employment to attend a career day this Saturday, March 16, at the lab. At last year’s event some were offered employment that day.

At the end of her presentation, Engel said, “I love working at the lab, I love doing these presentations.” She added that she enjoys sharing with different communities all that the lab has to offer.

The next civic meeting is on April 8 at 7:30 p.m. The guest speaker will be Suzanne Johnson, president of Rocky Point Historical Society.

The recently planted peace pole on Shore Drive in Sound Beach. Photo by Ernestine Franco
By Ernestine Franco

“May Peace Prevail on Earth.”

This sentiment appears on a peace pole recently installed by the Sound Beach Property Owners Association at the East Beach entrance on Shore Drive, between Amagansett and Brookhaven drives, overlooking the Long Island Sound.

In addition to English, seven other languages — two on each side of the pole — proclaim the plan to promote peace.

The Rocky Point Rotary Club is sponsoring a plan to link 10 communities along the corridor of routes 25 and 25A to promote peace.

Starting in May, Patrice Perreca, the Sound Beach Civic Association membership chair and a board member of the SBPOA, became interested in the International Cities of Peace movement, the goal of which is to encourage the establishment of cities of peace around the world.

The mission is to promote, document and provide resources and information for organizations working to establish peace throughout communities.

The peace pole embodies the motto, “’Let there be peace on Earth,’ one of my favorite hymns,” Perreca said. “And the best line is, ‘Let it begin with me.’”

Peace poles are symbols of May Peace Prevail on Earth International, founded in Japan in 1955. An estimated 250,000 peace poles throughout over 190 countries have been “planted” over many decades.

On Sunday, Oct. 8, at 3 p.m., Kevin Mann, president of Rocky Point Rotary, will perform the dedication. All are invited to partake in the culture of peace.

Rocky Point School District administrators and Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner, third from left, and Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker, third from right, flank filmmaker Leon Adler, fourth from right, and author Bea Ruberto, fourth from left. Photo courtesy RPSD

Joseph A. Edgar Elementary School students recently learned about Sound Beach when they participated in an assembly program featuring local filmmaker Leon Adler and author and Sound Beach Civic Association President Bea Ruberto on June 7. 

Adler directed the film, “The History Upon Our Shores: Sound Beach, NY,” based on the book, “Sound Beach: Our Town, Our Story,” by Ruberto.

The event for third and fourth graders, coordinated by Rocky Point’s director of humanities, Melinda Brooks, gave students a glimpse into the process of storytelling, research and the value of preserving local history. 

Students welcomed the creative duo, presenting artistic gifts of thanks for their visit. The school also welcomed Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) and Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai), who shared their experiences representing the local community.

Above, Sound Beach Fire Department Chief William Rosasco, left, and 2nd Assistant Chief James McLoughlin Jr. present a memorial wreath. Photo by Raymond Janis

Community members, first responders and veterans groups gathered on Memorial Day, May 29, with services paying tribute to the fallen.

The Sound Beach Fire Department hosted its annual memorial service, recognizing the departed members. James McLoughlin Jr., 2nd assistant chief of the department, shared the meaning of the service and the importance of recognizing first responders who have laid down their lives in the line of duty.

“The death of these fine men and women merits recognition and honor by our department,” he said. “While we are saddened by their deaths, we also testify to their many contributions in making their communities a better place to live, and we pay tribute to their memory.”

In Rocky Point, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6249 held a service honoring the departed members of the post and recognizing the sacrifices of American service members.

Members of Rocky Point VFW Post 6249 with Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner and New York State Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio, above. Photo by Raymond Janis

Joe Cognitore, commander of Post 6249, delivered an address to the many in attendance. He expressed his gratitude for those who had paid the ultimate sacrifice, risking their own lives to protect the freedoms of others.

“As we stand together today, we are reminded of the true cost of freedom,” Cognitore said. “While we as a nation mourn the lives lost, we celebrate the lives and are forever grateful.”

He added, “In an attempt to pay back our debt as American citizens, we also must not only remember the fallen, but it is our responsibility to teach our youth that nothing comes without a cost and that sacrifices are meaningless without remembrance.”

Bea Ruberto, president of the Sound Beach Civic Association, during a Memorial Day service on Monday, May 29. Photo by Raymond Janis

Rounding off the ceremonies for the day, the Sound Beach Civic Association hosted a service at the Veterans Memorial Park, recognizing the hamlet’s fallen service members. Musical renditions were performed by members of the Rocky Point High School Music Department, with veterans of the U.S. armed services raising the flags of their chosen branches of service.

SBCA president Bea Ruberto reflected upon the motivations behind the annual service, calling the event a means to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. 

“Each year, we come together on this day and in this place to reflect upon their sacrifice and honor their memory,” she said.

At each of these events, memorial wreaths were placed as a symbolic tribute of thanks to the fallen.

Sound Beach Civic Association President Bea Ruberto, left, and Dorothy Cavalier, Democratic candidate for Suffolk County’s 6th Legislative District, celebrate during the hamlet’s 2nd annual Spring Festival. Photo by Raymond Janis

Along New York Avenue in Sound Beach, before rows of storefronts and restaurant spaces — some filled, others not — thousands gathered on Saturday, April 22, for the 2nd annual Sound Beach Spring Festival and Street Fair.

The event featured dozens of local businesses and merchants tabling outside, along with food stands, face painting, music and other festivities.

The annual festival is hosted by the Rocky Point Sound Beach Chamber of Commerce, an organization founded in 2018 to draw businesses and economic development into the neighboring hamlets.

Gary Pollakusky, president and executive director of RPSBCC, said there was a two-year gap in the first and second festivals due to COVID-19. With public health concerns abating, the chamber picked up where it had left off before the pandemic.

“We had, I’d say, over 65 vendors, and we had thousands of people come through, all seeing for the first time some of the new businesses in Sound Beach,” he said.

Bea Ruberto is president of the Sound Beach Civic Association, the leading advocacy group representing the hamlet’s roughly 7,000 residents. She has been a leader in raising awareness for this private beach community.

“One of the things that we as a civic have tried to do for years is make people aware that we exist, make our representatives aware that we exist,” she said. 

To do that, Ruberto has been forceful in distinguishing Sound Beach for its unique history and local identity. She authored “Sound Beach: Our Town, Our Story,” which was recently adapted into the documentary film, “The History Upon Our Shores: Sound Beach, NY.” 

Gary Pollakusky, above, president and executive director of the Rocky Point Sound Beach Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Raymond Janis

The historical uniqueness of Sound Beach established, Ruberto has her sights on the future. She said the annual spring festival represents a vital organ in drawing attention to the area. 

“I love it because it brings people outside of Sound Beach into Sound Beach,” she said. “We want people to get to know about our community.”

Though several restaurants and merchants are in business, the commercial strip is a ways away from a fully formed, traditional main street. That, Pollakusky said, will require additional advocacy work to keep occupants of the storefronts commercially viable.

“Seeing businesses come and go is heartbreaking sometimes because those are families that are local and that are losing their livelihoods,” he said. “To see a business that did everything that it could to survive and then fail, it’s heartbreaking.”

Pollakusky indicated that countering these trends will take time and effort from local organizations and government. He outlined his aspirations for the hamlet.

“I’d like to see that our storefronts are filled,” he said. “I’d like to see that people want to come to Sound Beach to live and to patronize our businesses.” The chamber president added, “I’d like to see that we have a robust business community that is self-sustaining.”

Putting this vision into action is not so cut and dry. Consistently, Sound Beach has competed for and lost out on limited grant funding against established downtown districts also debilitated by the pandemic. 

The commercial district’s small size is another limiting factor, cutting the hamlet off from certain types of grants.

“Sound Beach does not have a downtown,” Ruberto said. “We have two commercial nodes. Therefore, a lot of the downtown revitalization grant funding we can’t have.” The civic president added, “That has to be fixed.”

The Sound Beach commercial district is currently zoned J-2, a general business zoning classification typical for retail spaces. For Sound Beach to qualify for downtown revitalization funding, the Town of Brookhaven would have to rezone the hamlet to J-6, a Main Street Business classification.

Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) represents Sound Beach on the Town Board. Reached by phone, she commented on the difficulties of Sound Beach making use of those granting opportunities, stressing that Suffolk County should consider easing the criteria for qualification.

“Those funds are hard to come by,” she said. “I think the onus is on the county in being a little more flexible” in dispersing downtown revitalization funds.

 

Map of the Sound Beach commercial district, which is currently zoned J-2, a general business classification. Graphic from the Town of Brookhaven website

Currently, Sound Beach has much of the look and feel of a traditional downtown despite lacking the zoning classification of one. Bonner nonetheless remained open to the proposal to rezone the commercial district to J-6, potentially giving the hamlet a proper downtown and opening it to grants. 

“If any business owner wanted to come in to become J-6, it’s certainly something that we would obviously entertain,” the councilwoman said.

The U.S. Census Bureau indicates that Sound Beach’s population shrunk by more than 2.5% between 2010 and 2020. This population decline is comparable to those of neighboring hamlets in the area, including Rocky Point, Miller Place and Mount Sinai.

Dorothy Cavalier, legislative aide to Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai), is running to fill the seat of her boss this November as Anker is term limited. 

The candidate remarked upon the need for a larger governmental initiative to return small businesses to the area and keep residents from leaving the county for the Sun Belt. 

“We’re losing a lot of people to Down South and other places, and we really need to figure out how to get them to stay here,” Cavalier said. “We need to get the small businesses back here because once we get the businesses to come back, the people will follow. They’ll stay.”

In the meantime, Bonner emphasized that the businesses in Sound Beach are still recovering from the aftermath of the pandemic. To support those businesses, she encouraged the community to continue patronizing local mom-and-pops in their hour of need.

“The pandemic really brought a lot of people to their knees financially, and our small businesses are the ones that suffered the most,” she said. “That’s why we have to invest with our dollars, to shop locally and support them.”

Bill Pellenz (left) with Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner. Photo by Raymond Janis

The Sound Beach Civic Association met on Monday, Feb. 13, at the Sound Beach Firehouse, joined by public officials, first responders and special honoree Bill Pellenz.

A past president and longtime civic member who also accrued over 50 years in the Sound Beach Fire Department, Pellenz was recognized for his contributions to the greater area. Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) presented Pellenz with a town proclamation.

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) recognized Pellenz for his commitment to public safety. She recounted the many challenges faced in planning and launching the North Shore Rail Trail, which formally opened last summer. 

Anker said Pellenz was instrumental in bringing attention to key safety needs for the trail. “He understands where to go with issues,” she said. “We were able to make additional safety measures because of you, Bill.”

Bill Pellenz (fifth from right) poses with public officials, civic leaders and first responders during a meeting of the Sound Beach Civic Association on Monday, Feb. 13. Photo by Raymond Janis

Representing U.S. Congressman Nick LaLota (R-NY1) was Peter Ganley, who presented Pellenz with a certificate of congressional recognition, particularly noting his efforts to support veterans throughout the hamlet.

William Rosasco, chief of the Sound Beach Fire Department, chronicled Pellenz’s long service to the department, starting as a probationary firefighter and working his way up the ranks to captain of Engine Company 2. 

“In the 36 years that I’ve been a member of this department, it’s been a pleasure working with Bill and being able to call him a friend,” Rosasco said.

SBCA president Bea Ruberto discussed Pellenz’s several contributions within the civic, notably to Veterans Memorial Park. 

“On behalf of the Sound Beach Civic Association, I want to thank you for all the work that you have done for this organization and the community,” she said. “Also, I want to thank you for all of the work that you will do,” to which Pellenz responded: “I’m not going anywhere.”

General meeting

William Doherty, the Suffolk County Police Department 7th Precinct’s new inspector. Photo by Raymond Janis

Following the ceremony, the civic held a brief meeting. Members were introduced to William Doherty, the 7th Precinct’s new inspector. In a brief statement to the body, he referred to his recent promotion as “the cherry on top of my career.”

“I look forward to working with everyone in this room through your elected officials and through my community liaison officers,” he said. “I tell you in my heart of hearts that this is the assignment that I wanted,” adding, “I don’t think I would have chosen any other precinct but the 7th.”

Ruberto reported that the civic would soon welcome a student volunteer from the Rocky Point school district, who will attend meetings. 

“That’s one of the things that we really try to do,” she said. “We try to work with young people in our community.”

Following adjournment, the attendees enjoyed cake in Pellenz’s honor.

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker and Bea Ruberto. Photo courtesy Anker's office

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) presented Sound Beach resident Bea Ruberto with a proclamation.

The proclamation recognizes Ruberto as a Woman of Distinction in 2022 and for her ongoing dedication to her community. In addition to serving as president of the Sound Beach Civic Association, Ruberto is the co-owner of Pern Editorial Services, a member of the Brookhaven Anti-Litter Task Force, and a leader in local diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. She also served as president of the auxiliary of the Sound Beach Fire Department. 

“It is not primarily the geography of a town that makes it remarkable,” Anker said. “It is the passion and dedication of its residents that make a community distinguished. Bea makes Sound Beach shine, and it fills me with joy to present her with this recognition.”

Leon Adler, left, and Bea Ruberto, right, together have brought the local history of Sound Beach to life. Photo by Aidan Johnson
By Aidan Johnson

Dozens of Sound Beach residents learned much more about their community on Monday, Aug. 8, during a second screening of the new local film, “The History Upon Our Shores: Sound Beach, NY,” at the Heritage Center in Mount Sinai. The well-received premiere was shown on June 10 at the same venue.

The film, produced and directed by resident Leon Adler, is based on the book, “Sound Beach: Our Town, Our Story,” authored by Bea Ruberto, president of the Sound Beach Civic Association.

“It’s exciting to be a part of sharing the town’s history with everybody, but I think it’s hard to say I’m among the first,” Adler said. “I imagine over many years, people were always telling stories through family members about the history, but I’m probably among the first to wrap it all up in a bow.”

The film tells the story of the quaint hamlet, from its beginnings as a summertime escape from 1929 onward to its present form as a community of over 7,000 residents.

Adler, who also narrates the film, infused humor throughout, keeping the audience laughing and learning as they digested plenty of information about Sound Beach.

Despite a runtime of under an hour, Adler devoted immense effort to getting the film over the finish line. According to him, two minutes of on-screen time could take up to four days of work to edit.

Furthermore, Adler put in months of his time to ensure that the narration, music and photos all synchronized perfectly. However, he said the finished product was well worth it to him.

“I think that when people know the history of where they live, it gives them a greater appreciation for it and just the whole background of it,” Adler said.

Ruberto was pleased by the interest that the movie garnered among the public. Despite living in Sound Beach for 45 years, she still considers herself a newbie to the area.

“I really began to appreciate Sound Beach when I got on the civic board,” she said. “Before that, I didn’t appreciate what a wonderful place it is to live.”

By joining the civic association, Ruberto realized the importance of local issues to both her and her peers. For her, in order to help keep the community beautiful, residents must remain active and engaged in it. 

The inspiration to write the book came to Ruberto about a decade ago when she was looking to get better bus stops for Sound Beach. “We were reviewing the stops, and a lot of them were wrong,” she said. “One of the bus stops was called Scotty’s Corner, and I had no idea where that was. I can’t tell you how long I spent trying to find it, and that’s when I realized that a lot of people didn’t know either.”

The seemingly nonexistent bus stop drove Ruberto to the realization that much of the history of Sound Beach was passed down by word of mouth. However, as the older generations passed on, the precious history they carried went with them. Ruberto has made it her mission to keep that history alive: to research it, write it down and to preserve it. With the help of Adler, she has done just that.

As the film concluded, the audience gave Adler a long round of applause. For some, the film brought back memories of the town that they knew while growing up. For others, it sheds new light on a place where they are only beginning to establish their roots.

County legislator discusses major initiatives coming out of her office

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) is working on several projects, from bike trails to erosion education programs and more. Photo courtesy Anker’s office

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) is at the forefront of several initiatives at the county level. In an exclusive interview with Anker, she opened up about her positions on public campaign finance, the North Shore Rail Trail, coastal erosion and more.

For those who do not know you, can you describe your background?

My background is that I’m a mother of three children and have been a Mount Sinai resident for 25 years. I’ve lived in Middle Island and in Coram, and I’m very familiar with this area and my legislative district. I worked at different ad agencies, did some independent contracting work and at some of the local shops in Patchogue. Then I took off for a handful of years to raise my kids. 

When my youngest was born, the New York State Health Department put out a cancer map showing that our area had a high frequency of cancer, particularly breast cancer, and my grandmother had just passed away from breast cancer. I decided to start a non-for-profit, the Community Health and Environment Coalition, around 2003. And this was basically to advocate to the state to come and do an investigation, tell us what we need to know, why we had these numbers and where these numbers were coming from. 

Eventually, they came back to the community and did testing, but unfortunately, they left more questions than answers. We continue to investigate and try to understand the causes of cancer.

I got a job working as the chief of staff for [Councilwoman] Connie Kepert [D-Middle Island] at the Town of Brookhaven. She pulled me in and then they got a $4.5 million grant for solar programs. Working with Connie, we started the programs and then I was promoted to be in charge of creating an energy department at the Town of Brookhaven. I left that position to run for this position.

I ran for office and have been elected seven times. I’m term limited, so I can’t run anymore. I’m a Democrat but fairly conservative — moderate and in the middle. I find the common denominator and I focus on that. I don’t go too far left or too far right, and I’m here to represent my constituents and to kind of settle the storm when there are issues out there. My top priority is public safety and the safety of my residents. I did that for my kids and my family. I do that now for my constituents.

How did your most recent project, the North Shore Rail Trail, come to fruition?

That one was very challenging. I had to overcome some major obstacles and challenges along the way. 

The three main challenges were getting the county exec on board. The former one was not supportive; the current one, Steve Bellone [D], supported it. I also had to get the energy folks from LIPA on board. I had worked a lot with them while running the energy program at the Town of Brookhaven and we had a good professional relationship. 

That worked because they were open to the idea of LIPA having this as a wonderful public relations project. The third one was getting the community on board. The ability to see this through stemmed from the fact that there had been fatalities related to people attempting to ride their bikes, jog or run along our local highways. Because all of those concerns and challenges were in place, it was time to move forward.

Hopefully, and I stress this, people need to use common sense and they need to take responsibility for their safety when they cross the intersections. But this provides a safe place for people to be able to recreate. 

Can you discuss the work you are doing related to coastal erosion?

Erosion is a huge issue. I was meeting constituents and I was on Culross Drive in Rocky Point and as I walked up to a house, I noticed that their neighbor’s house had fallen off the cliff — literally, it was down the cliff. This was 10 or 11 years ago.

I found that a lot of constituents in my area are part of beach associations. Miller Place, Sound Beach, Rocky Point — these are private beach communities, so they don’t qualify for federal funding. I’m using the resources we do have to educate them on certain seagrasses, different brick structures, just give them ideas to try to address it. 

Unfortunately, if one addresses it and this person doesn’t and this person doesn’t, then it creates issues for the people that do. So I’m trying to see if we can get everyone on board to address the erosion issue. We’ll do what we can.

Public campaign finance has been an ongoing dispute between the county executive and the Legislature. Can you elaborate on your stance regarding the public campaign finance program that was repealed last week?

I support funding campaign finance reform. I support it. It’s a program that was started last year. We put money into it and it’s a shame that we couldn’t try it out. We do pilot programs all the time and I would have hoped that they could have at least done that. 

It was a project that the former presiding officer, Rob Calarco [D-Patchogue], had advocated for. He worked for a long time on it. I respect him and the amount of effort that he put into that. I would have preferred to at least give it a shot and see where it was going.

If it wasn’t doing well or there were some issues or problems with it, we could have always changed it. I voted to have another way to finance campaigns. Any large organization that has a lot of money can create very, very challenging campaigns for any individual — and I’ve been there personally. 

What is it about the communities that you represent that makes them so distinctive and unique?

I think that we have a lot of folks who understand how important it is to take an active role in their community. We have a lot of folks that participate in projects and events and activities that continue to inspire the people around them. Like the butterfly effect or a ripple in a stream, it just keeps going and I see that in my community.

Right now, in this complicated political climate, we need to understand that we all have something in common and we can all be part of addressing issues and accomplishing our goals by working together collaboratively. I’ve seen that and I do that, and I think that — whether it’s unique to us or not — it’s something that’s important that is happening in our district. 

We get what we put into our community. And right now, the people that have contributed to and who have improved our community, I’m really honored and privileged to work with those folks. 

Whether it’s Bobby Woods with the North Shore Youth Council or Bea Ruberto from the Sound Beach Civic Association, you really see who the true heroes are within your community when you work with them. And I feel very honored to have the ability to be part of what they are trying to create, which is a place that we can call home.