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Suffolk County

All photos by Steven Zaitz

Hauppauge High School was the scene this past Saturday for over 200 girls who will participate in flag football this year.  Suffolk County footballers from as far away as East Hampton and Eastport-South Manor were put through their paces at eight different drill stations as they steam ahead toward opening day. 

A little closer to home, Northport, Huntington, Sachem East, Amityville, Patchogue Medford, and of course, host Hauppauge all threw, ran, stretched and caught passes from coaches.  Eagles Head Coach Steve Mileti ran the running back and flag-grabbing drill and Northport Head Coach Pat Campbell and Assistant Coach Perry Marinelli taught receivers how to catch the ball and run routes. 

There was spirit of team building as the groups, comprised of a mash-up of girls from the participating schools, rotated around in 10-minute shifts, laughing and getting to know each other along the way. 

The girls flag football season starts locally on March 29 when Hauppauge travels to Harborfields. Northport’s first game is on April 3 on the road against Half Hollow Hills.

Local offices are on the ballot this November, with legislative positions at the county and town levels up for grabs.

Suffolk County’s 6th District

Dorothy Cavalier, left, and Chad Lennon are the Democratic and Republican nominees, respectively, for Suffolk County’s 6th District. Left from Cavalier’s campaign; right courtesy Lennon

Six-term incumbent Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker is termed out, setting up an open contest to fill her seat. In Anker’s absence, two major party candidates — both attorneys — have emerged.

Dorothy Cavalier, Anker’s chief of staff, has received her party’s nod. Cavalier began her legal career with AIG and Dime Savings Bank of New York, later transitioning to a small family practice in Ronkonkoma.

She joined Anker’s staff in February 2019. Asked why she entered the 6th District race, she told TBR News Media that her four years in Anker’s office had opened her to the possibilities of government.

“I started to see all of the good things that can be done in government,” she said. “I would like to stay in office, hopefully taking her seat, so I can continue those good works and the good things that we started.”

She added, “There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done, and I think I’m the one who needs to be in the office to do it.”

If elected, Cavalier offered to prioritize environmental issues, focusing on measures promoting water quality and preserving open space.

“We need to protect our sole-source aquifer,” she said. “We need to continue to work on getting our water, keeping it clean and making it safe for everybody.”

The Democratic candidate cited coastal erosion along the North Shore as a critical situation for the 6th District. She also noted affordable housing and expanding mental health programs for veterans are priorities.

Representing the Republican Party in this race is Chad Lennon, an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and an attorney focusing on military and veterans law. 

He has worked part-time for state Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) as a special assistant for veterans affairs and U.S. Congressman Nick LaLota (R-NY1) as a congressional aide.

“I have been someone who’s served my country, and I wanted to continue to do that at the local level,” he said. “I believe my experience with being an officer in the military, being an attorney, as well as the other positions I have held bring a level of leadership that no one else is bringing.”

He added, “I think I have an ability to lead from the front, put myself at the point of friction and make myself available to the constituents of the district.”

Lennon committed to tackling issues associated with public safety, stabilizing the county’s budget and finances and thoroughly investigating the September ransomware attack against the county’s information technology network.

He pledged to “work with the county to make sure we find out what happened with the cybersecurity breach and make sure that we have accountability, policies and training put in place to make sure that this kind of breach does not happen at our county in the future,” he said.

The Republican also cited the need for “standing with local officials to stop the ‘Queensification’ of Suffolk County that Gov. [Kathy] Hochul [D] is seeking.”

Brookhaven’s 2nd Council District

Carol Russell, left, and Jane Bonner are the Democratic and Republican nominees, respectively, for the Town of Brookhaven’s 2nd Council District. Left courtesy Russell; right from the Brookhaven Town website

The boundaries of Brookhaven’s 2nd Council District underwent a considerable transformation during last year’s redistricting process. Most notably, the district stretched southward, now encompassing a sizable swath of Coram.

Incumbent Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) is up for reelection this year, along with the other six members of the Town Board. Before entering office in 2007, Bonner served as a legislative aide to Dan Losquadro (R), then-Suffolk County legislator and now incumbent Brookhaven highway superintendent. 

Bonner also served as a trustee on the Rocky Point board of education and president of the Rocky Point Civic Association. In an interview, Bonner said she is running for reelection to continue working on various long-term projects.

“Every year you serve is like peeling another layer on the onion to tackle long-term issues,” she said. “In my years in office, we’ve done major stormwater remediation projects all along the North Shore, upgrades to our parks,” adding, “I would say, succinctly — to continue to do the good work on behalf of the residents.”

If reelected, Bonner said she would focus on the environment, noting, “We continue to battle and deal with climate change. The North Shore is always under attack, and there are more projects that I’d like to see come to fruition.”

Referencing examples of initiatives she has worked on with the Town Board, she cited cybersecurity, tax and spending caps and anti-nepotism legislation. The incumbent added that she would “continue fighting for Long Island to be a suburb and not a city.”

Challenging Bonner is Carol Russell, a resident of Coram. A retired nurse and trial attorney, she spent nearly 30 years defending doctors, nurses and other health care providers in litigation. Russell has also served as a mentor for the Dress for Success Brookhaven initiative and has volunteered to coach the mock trial team at Longwood High School.

“I look at our society, nationally and locally, and I see it is so divided and so broken,” she said. “I think people want to be listened to and included. I think our Town Board can do a better job at that, and I want to be a part of that.”

She referred to existing dynamics within the town government as “sort of a one-party rule for a good number of years now, and I’m not really sure the Town Board understands its residents or at least part of its residents.”

She regarded the two central issues within the town as the affordability crisis and the looming Brookhaven landfill closure.

“I’d like to see what can be done to alleviate some of the tax burdens on our residents,” she said, adding, “And I’m particularly concerned about the closing of the landfill, which is going to leave a huge gap in our budget.”

She further cited homelessness as an area of concern, particularly in Coram. “Homelessness is not exclusively but predominantly a mental health issue,” she said. “I think that there are ways that we as a town, in partnership with the county and the state, can do better.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and county officials announced Friday, Feb. 17, that Suffolk has made progress restoring cybersecurity.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, County Clerk Vincent Puleo and Chief Deputy County Executive Lisa Black were on hand Feb. 17 to announce the county’s progress in restoring cybersecurity. Suffolk County photo

The announcement comes after county websites, servers and networks have been offline since September last year — the results of cyberattacks that first struck at the end of 2021. The county’s main website was restored online Friday, with more services coming online this week.

Bellone thanked everyone involved, including county IT professionals and County Clerk Vincent Puleo (R), who entered office earlier this year.

“His leadership and his partnership in the brief time that he’s been on the job has allowed us to make incredible progress, and he’s responsible for the announcement that we have today,” Bellone said.

The county executive reviewed key findings from a forensic investigation of the cyberattack that began in the County Clerk’s Office in December of 2021. According to Bellone, hackers were able to enter the clerk office’s system, and for eight months were able to operate before securing additional credentials to migrate into the general county system.

Bellone added that an IT director in the clerk’s office had been placed on administrative leave after, the county executive said, the director obstructed efforts, resulting in countless delays to restore security.

Bellone said every county office was deemed clean by Oct. 17, except for the County Clerk’s Office, and the expense of the security breach has been “extremely costly to taxpayers of this county.”

Despite hackers demanding $2.5 million from the county, Suffolk refused to pay the ransom.

Bellone said the county had replaced the County Clerk Office’s firewall with the most updated protection.

“The clerk’s office has been deemed clean, and we are able to start to restore online services beginning with the county website,” he said.

The county executive said he knows now the segregated IT environment within the various county offices was a mistake. He added it was fair to criticize him.

“I should have more quickly implemented the recommendations in the 2019 cybersecurity assessment, which I commissioned, to hire an additional executive level leader focused on cybersecurity,” Bellone said.

Puleo said the county’s IT department’s dedication has been unwavering during the process.

“Going forward, we will do everything we can in the clerk’s office to cooperate and get things where they belong and keep the protection so that the whole county IT is protected from future attacks,” the county clerk said.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, announced the first round of recipients of opioid settlement funds at a Jan. 12 press conference. Photo from Steve Bellone’s Flickr page

County Executive Steve Bellone (D) announced the names of 34 organizations who will receive $25 million to combat the opioid crisis in the first round of funding secured by the county’s settlement against manufacturers, distributors and others involved in the crisis.

Suffolk County Legislature Minority Leader Jason Richberg, at podium, was on hand to announce the first round of recipients of opioid settlement funds at a Jan. 12 press conference. Photo from Steve Bellone’s Flickr page

The grant recipients, who were among the 111 that applied for funding, include community groups, nonprofits, for-profit groups and county agencies and will receive the funds over a three-year period.

The county hopes to provide funds in the next couple of weeks to combat a crisis that COVID-19 exacerbated in the last few years.

“We had begun to make real progress in the battle and in 2019, deaths declined for the first time in many years,” Bellone said at a press conference Jan. 12 announcing the recipients chosen by a bipartisan five-member committee. The pandemic “reversed that progress and, once again, we saw opioid-related deaths rising.”

Funds from the settlement against manufacturers and distributors of opioids total over $200 million, which the county will distribute over the next 20 years. The second round of funding will begin later this year. The county encouraged some of the groups that didn’t receive funding in the first round to reapply, while opening up the opportunity to other organizations that are similarly dedicated to prevention, education, treatment and recovery.


County Legislature Minority Leader Jason Richberg (D-West Babylon), who helped select award recipients, said the committee received over $170 million worth of requests.

“The goal is not only to have an immediate impact, but to have a long-standing impact,” he said in an interview. The committee wanted to take a “multifaceted approach when funding these organizations.”

Richberg said the group took a considerable number of hours to put together the list of recipients for the first round.

“We understood the urgency to make sure this came out in the best way possible,” he said.

The minority leader appreciated the perspective of fellow committee member Sharon Richmond, president of the Northport-East Northport Community Drug and Alcohol Task Force and a victim-advocate whose son Vincent died from opioids in 2017.

Richberg described Richmond as a “beacon of strength” who helped guide the group in the right direction.

At the press conference, Richmond said her son would have been “honored to know that so many people are going to get so much help” with these funds.

‘We want to reach individuals in the community and not necessarily have to wait for someone to come to our emergency departments.’

Dr. Sandeep Kapoor

Reaching out

The leaders of the groups that will receive this money have numerous approaches to combat an epidemic that has robbed the community of family members, friends and neighbors.

“We want to reach individuals in the community and not necessarily have to wait for someone to come to our emergency departments,” said Dr. Sandeep Kapoor, assistant vice president of addiction services for Northwell Health.

Northwell’s Project Connect Plus will receive about $3.5 million, which is the largest single award in the first round of funding.

Project Connect Plus would like to expand its reach and is partnering with domestic violence organizations and with Island Harvest food bank to create a pathway for people to access support.

“The goal of this initiative is to make sure we can navigate people [to services], build partnerships and ensure that people trust the process,” Kapoor said.

Project Connect Plus is emphasizing the importance of ongoing contact between health care providers and people who need support to defeat drug addiction.

He contrasted the attention most patients get after an operation with the lack of ongoing attention in the health care system for those people who come to an emergency room for drug-related problems.

‘It’s a significant amount of money that will have a significant impact. It means a lot to us to have the support of the county around harm reduction efforts.’

— Tina Wolf

Hospitals typically reach out to patients numerous times after knee operations, to check on how people are feeling, to make sure they are taking their medicine, to check for infection and to remind them of future appointments.

Someone with a substance use disorder typically receives no phone calls after an emergency room visit.

“If [the health care community] is doing right by people with knee surgery, why not take the same approach” for people who are battling addiction, Kapoor said. “We continually engage people to make sure they are not alone.”

Project Connect Plus is also partnering with other organizations, including Community Action for Social Justice, which is working toward increasing safety around drug use.

CASJ’s executive director and co-founder, Tina Wolf, provides direct services to reduce the risk for people who use drugs, such as syringe exchange and risk reduction counseling, overdose prevention training and harm reduction training.

CASJ is receiving $1.5 million from the opioid settlement.

“It’s a significant amount of money that will have a significant impact,” Wolf said. “It means a lot to us to have the support of the county around harm reduction efforts.”

Wolf said the funds will enable CASJ to double its existing harm reduction efforts in Suffolk County, which is important not only amid an increase in substance abuse in the aftermath of the pandemic, but also as people develop wounds amid a change in the drug supply.

In the last few years, amid volatility in drugs used in the county, some fentanyl has included xylazine, a pet pain reliever and muscle relaxant. In Philadelphia, Puerto Rico and Long Island, among other places, xylazine has caused significant nonhealing wounds.

“Some of this money is for wound care issues,” Wolf said.

Other grant recipients include Hope House Ministries of Port Jefferson ($600,000), Town of Brookhaven Youth Prevention Program ($75,000) and Town of Smithtown Horizons Counseling and Education Center ($111,000). 

A comprehensive list

The award recipients will update the committee on their efforts to ensure that the funds are providing the anticipated benefits and to help guide future financial decisions.

Groups have to report on their progress, Richberg said, which is a part of their contract.

County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) was pleased with the work of the recipients.

“It’s a fantastic list” that is “really comprehensive and varied in the type of services and the location geographically,” she said. “We do need so much out there.”

She believes the funds will “do some
real good.”

Wolf said she hopes “we don’t all just do well in our individual projects, but we can link those projects together. I’m hoping there’s enough overlap that we can create this net together to really make sure people aren’t falling through the cracks.”

Above, Theresa Whelan. Photo courtesy Chambers of the Honorable Thomas F. Whelan

Theresa Whelan, of Wading River, a longtime Suffolk County judge who served for more than 10 years in family court and most recently as the county’s Surrogate’s Court judge, died Monday, Dec. 26, after a courageous battle with cancer. She was 60.

Theresa Whelan always knew she wanted to be in public service. As a young attorney fresh out of Albany Law School, she began her legal career in 1988 as a Suffolk County assistant county attorney. She entered the court system in 1990 as a senior law clerk to Supreme Court Judge Eli Wagner, in Nassau County. She went on to work as a principal law clerk in Suffolk County for Supreme Court Judge Mary M. Werner and, later, Supreme Court Judge William B. Rebolini. During her 17 years in the supreme court, she worked in nearly every part, including civil litigation, guardianship, tax certiorari and condemnation cases, as well as matrimonial matters.

She eventually took the bench herself in 2008 after she was elected to serve as a judge in Suffolk County Family Court. There, she heard primarily child abuse and neglect cases and presided over Family Treatment Court, where she worked to safely reunite families. Whelan became Suffolk County’s Surrogate in 2019, presiding over proceedings involving wills, trusts and estates as well as guardianship matters. She retired in the summer of 2022, marking 32 years within the New York State court system.

Known for her commitment to improving court practices to better serve the needs of the public, Whelan mobilized several initiatives that helped families and children and that expanded access to justice for all court users. She was appointed Supervising Judge of the Suffolk County Family Court in 2016, and one of the many reforms she spearheaded was providing remote access to temporary orders of protection, allowing individuals to petition the court from a hospital, a police precinct or a shelter. She was a catalyst of the FOCUS (Family Overcoming Crisis through Unified Services) initiative, a program that expedites access to services that address the trauma and developmental needs of children and parents in the court system. 

She also served as lead judge of the Suffolk County Child Welfare Court Improvement Project, part of a statewide initiative to address court practices in cases where the court has removed children from their parents’ care. In 2016, Chief Administrative Judge Larry Marks appointed her to the Family Court Advisory and Rules Committee. In 2018, former New York Court of Appeals Chief Judge Janet DiFiore appointed her to the New York State Commission on Parental Representation, which is tasked with holding public hearings and reporting on the status and quality of lawyers representing parents in child welfare cases. Since 2016, Theresa Whelan had been the chair of Suffolk County’s Attorneys for Children Advisory Committee, which is responsible for considering the qualifications of new applicants to the Attorneys for Children panel as well as reviewing the recertification applications for existing lawyers. 

An active member of the Suffolk County Bar Association, Whelan was co-chair of the Family Court Committee from 2013 to 2016 and lectured for the association’s law academy and other legal organizations. As a member of the Attorney for Child Task Force, she and the other members received the Suffolk County Bar Association’s President’s Award in 2016 for their work. She was also a member and past president of the Suffolk County Women’s Bar Association.

In March of 2022, in recognition of her leadership and commitment to improving the lives of children and families, Whelan was honored at a Women’s History Month celebration, “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope,” presented by Suffolk County District Administrative Judge Andrew A. Crecca and the Suffolk County Women in the Courts Committee. In June, Whelan was awarded the Marilyn R. Menge Award at the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York 2022 Convention.

Prior to beginning her legal career, she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a Master of Science degree in Policy Analysis and Public Management from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Her devotion to her family was boundless. She and her husband, Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Thomas F. Whelan, recently celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary. Together they raised two children, Joseph and Erin. Whelan was a proud grandmother to Erin’s one-year-old daughter, Andrea.

In her spare time, Whelan enjoyed the outdoors. She could often be found hiking, kayaking or spending time at the beach. She ran in several half marathons in recent years.

She continued her dedication to the public good even after her cancer diagnosis, volunteering to participate in clinical trials, despite the risks, in hopes of helping find a cure. Her family, friends and former colleagues remember her as someone who braved challenges with grace and compassion. She will be dearly missed by all who knew her. 

Theresa Whelan is survived by her husband, Justice Thomas F. Whelan; son, Joseph Whelan; daughter, Erin, her husband, Alex Meyers, and their daughter, Andrea; mother, Joan Bryant, and her husband John Bauer; brothers, Jack Bryant and Christopher Bryant; sisters, Vaughn Bogucki and Victoria Yule; together with many nieces and nephews.

Doctors recommend mask-wearing during indoor gatherings. Stock photo from Pixabay

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised Suffolk County residents to wear masks while at indoor public spaces regardless of their vaccination status

The recommendation is due to the increase in COVID-19 cases in the county. According to the Suffolk County Department of Health, for the week ending Dec. 3, there were 264-290 people hospitalized with COVID-19, and 14 died from the virus in the county. There were 4,168 new cases reported. The reinfection rate for Long Island increased from 10.3 to 18 per 100,000.

Flu cases have also increased. According to the SCDOH, during the week ending Dec. 3, flu cases increased in the county by 85%, from 1,577 confirmed cases to 2,916. 

In a video posted to the SCDOH’s social media pages, Dr. Gregson Pigott, county health commissioner, said the COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (or RSV) infection rates are surging in Suffolk. The cases are in addition to the rise of other common seasonal infectious diseases. 

“They are causing too many people to miss work or school and straining our health care systems,” Pigott said.

He urged residents to take precautions such as getting the vaccines for the flu and COVID, noting it is safe to take them together. He added the COVID bivalent booster “has shown to be effective against the older and newer strains of SARS-CoV-2.”

Pigott said the flu shot is a good match for this year’s circulating strains. Currently, there is no vaccine for RSV.

In the video, he reminded residents to wash their hands often and stay home when sick. He added that masks should be clean and well fitted, and used in enclosed public spaces.

“As we head into our third pandemic winter, let us be safe and do our best to protect one another,” Pigott said.

Nick LaLota, Congressman-elect for New York’s 1st Congressional District made an appearance at Stereo Garden in Patchogue on Election Night. Photo by Raymond Janis

While New Yorkers voted Democrat Kathy Hochul as the first woman elected governor, Republicans scored big in races throughout Suffolk County.

Due to September’s cyberattack, results for local races were delayed on Tuesday night as Suffolk County election workers struggled to upload votes.

After technical problems, election workers delivered voting booth memory cards to Yaphank headquarters for votes to be counted. The first voting results started trickling in by the early morning hours of Nov. 9.

Congressman Lee Zeldin, defeated gubernatorial candidate, made an appearance at Stereo Garden in Patchogue on Election Night. Photo by Raymond Janis

New York State governor

Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY1), the Republican Party’s gubernatorial candidate, made a surprise appearance en route to his official viewing party in Manhattan. At the Stereo Garden in Patchogue, Zeldin expressed gratitude for the people of Suffolk County, saying his night would not be complete without first dropping in.

Slowly, the returns began to come in, and the room took on a different tone and tenor as the gubernatorial contest was called for incumbent Hochul. 

With 94% reporting as of press time, Hochul carried the state by a 53-47% margin — unusually tight for a state that Democrats generally take handily. 

“Tonight, you made your voices heard loud and clear, and you made me the first woman ever to be elected to be the governor of the State of New York,” Hochul said in her victory speech. “But I’m not here to make history. I’m here to make a difference.”

Zeldin conceded the afternoon of Nov. 9 in a statement.

“This race was a once-in-a-generation campaign, with a very close margin in the bluest of blue states,” Zeldin said. “The unrelenting passion and hard work of our grassroots volunteers and supporters made this incredibly close race possible and helped us win at least 49 of New York’s 62 counties.” He added, “Republicans, Democrats and Independents united as New Yorkers, pouring their heart and soul into this campaign.” 


U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was declared the victor early on Nov. 8, receiving 56% of the votes as of press time.

Despite this and a lackluster Republican performance nationwide, some at Stereo Garden did have cause to celebrate. In the race to fill Zeldin’s congressional seat, Nick LaLota defeated Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming (D-Noyac) by a 56-44% margin with 94% reporting.

“Thank you to the voters of Suffolk County for placing your trust in me,” LaLota said in a statement. “I am extremely thankful for the trust and confidence you have placed in me, and I won’t let you down.”

State Assemblyman Keith Brown (R-Northport) was among the incumbents who retain his seat. Photo by Raymond Janis

State Legislature

At the state level, incumbent state Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) defeated Democratic Party challenger Skyler Johnson by 12 points. “This is a team effort, as you all know, and we don’t get here without the hard work of all of our volunteers,” Palumbo said in a speech.

Johnson said he wouldn’t make any promises about whether to run for another office. However, he hasn’t ruled it out, either.

“If I think that we have a viable path, and I think that what I can offer is what the constituents need, then ‘yes,’” he said.

State Sen. Mario Mattera (R-St. James) faced Democrat Susan Berland, formerly Suffolk County legislator in the 16th District and Town of Huntington councilwoman, for the seat in the 2nd District.

The incumbent retained his seat with more than 58% of the votes. Mattera said it felt great to hear the results of his race the morning of Nov. 9, even though he was disappointed that Zeldin lost the gubernatorial race.

“One party rule is upsetting to me because it’s like a business having a monopoly,” Mattera said.

The state senator said he is looking forward to returning to Albany to continue working toward bringing funds back to the area to help with infrastructure and local businesses. He added he was appreciative of the overwhelming support from his family, friends, law enforcement and trade unions, and the confidence they all have had in him.

In the state Assembly, incumbent Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio (R-Riverhead), who represents the 2nd District, easily won her race by a 32% margin over Democratic challenger Wendy Hamberger.

As of early afternoon Nov. 9, the race for Assembly District 4 was tight, with a mere 973 votes dividing the candidates. Incumbent state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) is in a competitive bout with Republican challenger Edward Flood. Flood maintains a 2-point lead with 96% of the precincts reporting as of press time, though that race has not been called.

Englebright said his last race in 2020 was a close one, too, and he was not ready to make an official statement as of press time.

In the state Assembly District 8 race, incumbent Michael Fitzpatrick received more than 68% of the votes. His opponent, Democrat Jeanine Aponte, did not run an active campaign.

In addition to parts of Suffolk County, state Assembly District 10 also takes in parts of Nassau County. Incumbent Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills) was the winner with 54% of the votes (25,879), while IT professional Aamir Sultan (R) received 46% (21,843).

In the state Assembly race in the 12th District, incumbent Keith Brown (R-Northport), faced Democrat Cooper Macco.

Brown retained his seat with 58% of the votes. Macco said he would consider running for office in the future.

“It was a learning experience,” he said. “I think that in the future, hopefully, I can take what I’ve learned” and apply it to a campaign.

County Comptroller John Kennedy (R) was among the speakers at Stereo Garden on Election Night. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Suffolk County

After losing a June primary, current Suffolk County Clerk Judith Pascale (R) did not run for the position. 

Republican Vincent Puleo, the town clerk of Smithtown, faced Democrat Lisa Jimenez, a newcomer running for political office. Puleo won the race with 59% of the votes. 

Incumbent county Comptroller John M. Kennedy Jr. (R) won reelection with ease at 60% over his inactive Democratic Party challenger, Thomas Dolan. During a speech at Stereo Garden, he thanked those who helped him secure victory and expressed his vision for the future.

“We left nothing untouched, ladies and gentlemen,” the comptroller said. “We will have change in Suffolk County, and we will restore Republican values, I’m confident.”


The $4.2 billion state Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022 was approved by about 59% of voters (93.64% precincts reporting).

The Suffolk County term limits proposition, to 12 years total, passed with a massive 86% approval. 

Stock photo

The Biden Administration has declared a national public health emergency for the monkeypox outbreak across the country. “This public health emergency will allow us to explore additional strategies to get vaccines and treatments more quickly out to the impacted communities. And it will allow us to get more data from jurisdictions so we can effectively track and attack this outbreak,” the White House said in a statement.

Monkeypox vaccines are available for Suffolk County residents at Northwell Health and Stony Brook Medicine Clinics. For more information, including links to schedule appointments, click here or call 311.

Pixabay photo

In late July, amid some of the hottest weeks of the year, the Suffolk County Water Authority put out a statement urging residents to conserve water.

“With continued hot and dry weather leading to excessive early morning water use that is pushing water infrastructure to its limits, the Suffolk County Water Authority is urging residents to immediately take steps to conserve water,” the statement read. “Though it is always important to conserve water, during hot and dry periods it is imperative to do so, as residents tend to overwater lawns and set their irrigation timers to the same period of time in the early morning hours.”

We’re asking people to shift their watering patterns to the nonpeak periods.’ ⁠— Joe Pokorny

SCWA’s deputy chief executive officer for operations, Joe Pokorny, outlined the issues surrounding high temperatures. While the underground aquifer is not at risk of going dry any time soon, he said high water consumption is placing a greater strain on the water authority’s infrastructure.

“There is only so much water that we can pump at any given time,” he said. “The aquifers are full of water, but we have limited wells and pumps in the aquifer to deliver water to the customer.”

Strain on the pumps is a problem of supply and demand, according to Pokorny. Higher temperatures increase the demand for water, thereby limiting the supply of water. Pokorny asks that customers be mindful that simultaneous water use can overwhelm their pumps, which could lead to diminished water pressure, possibly harmful to communities.

“We just can’t keep up with demand, so we ask people to curtail [water consumption] because our pumps can’t keep up,” he said. “If that happens for long enough, then we start to see a decline in water pressure and then we get concerned about having enough water available to fight fires and general pressure for people to have in their homes.”

To alleviate the challenges associated with high heat, Suffolk County customers are asked to modify their water habits slightly. By cutting back on water during the peak hours of the highest heat, residents can ease pressure on the pumps.

“We’re asking people to shift their watering patterns to the nonpeak periods,” Pokorny said. “That gives our infrastructure a break. People will still get the water they want, they just get that water at a different time.”

‘Literally, the height of groundwater in the aquifer is declining by many feet during the summer period.’

— Christopher Gobler

The conversation around water conservation prompted a broader discussion around the Long Island water supply. Christopher Gobler, endowed chair of Coastal Ecology and Conservation and a professor at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University, discussed the unique relationship that Long Islanders share with their drinking water.

“We have a sole-source aquifer, which means that all of our drinking water comes from underneath our feet,” Gobler said. “When water hits the land, almost all of it seeps into the groundwater and, as it does, it carries with it what’s on the land. And once it’s in our aquifer, that’s our drinking water source.”

For those who tap into the public water supply, the water that they drink typically comes from within just a few miles of their own homes. For these reasons, community members and local governments have a certain obligation to be mindful of their activities on land.

Open space, according to Gobler, is generally most beneficial for promoting water quality within the underground aquifer. These spaces generally act as filters, flushing out contaminants as they work their way through the groundwater and into the aquifer.

“Different land-use practices have different impacts on the way that the water that is falling on land affects our drinking water,” Gobler said. “For example, pristine forests or undisturbed vegetation tend to be really good at, say, taking out nitrogen as water strikes land or falls from the atmosphere.” He added, “Without that, you have just impermeable surfaces and the water may run directly into the groundwater without any benefits of vegetative treatment.”

As summers continue to become longer and hotter due to climate change, the question of the long-term prospects for water supply is likely to arise. Gobler explained that the aquifer is drained and then replenished based on the seasons.

“On average in any given year, about half of the rainfall that falls on Long Island … is what’s called ‘recharged’ into the aquifer,” he said. “The other half that is not recharged undergoes a process called evapotranspiration, which essentially means it either evaporates or is taken up by plants.”

In the warmer months, little to no water gets recharged into the aquifer as it evaporates. Gobler said the window of time during which no recharge is taking place is likely expanding because of climate change.

“I think there’s an old paper from the ‘80s and it said that Sept. 15 is around when the aquifer starts recharging,” he said. “Well, that’s probably not the case anymore. Our falls are getting warmer, and particularly after a really hot and dry summer, the ground is going to be really dry.”

Gobler said SCWA is experiencing two dilemmas at once. During the summer months, the water authority must accommodate both zero recharge to the aquifer and maximal extraction of its water. “Literally, the height of groundwater in the aquifer is declining by many feet during the summer period,” he said.

On the whole, the aquifer is being recharged at a greater rate than it is being extracted from. Long Islanders are not at risk of having their aquifer drained dry. However, climate change is altering the balance, which could create issues decades down the road.

“In broad-brush strokes, we’re fine,” Gobler said, adding, “We’re not in the Southwest of the United States where they’re relying on the Colorado River for their water supply. But we are at a time when the balance of water-in and water-out is getting closer to even.”

Moving forward, residents of Suffolk County should remain aware of the impact that they have on both the quantity and quality of their water supply. “Everybody needs to recognize that there is not only a quantity issue but also a quality issue,” Gobler said. “Everyone impacts both, as do all of the activities that are happening on land.”

David Calone, left, with state Assemblyman Steve Englebright. The assemblyman is one of the local leaders who encouraged Calone to run for county executive. Photos from Calone’s campaign

A former congressional primary candidate is aiming for Suffolk County’s executive seat.

Last week, Setauket’s David Calone announced his intention to run for county executive on the Democratic ticket in 2023. Due to term limits, Steve Bellone (D) will not be running.

“I would bring a lot of different perspectives and a lot of backgrounds to the regional leadership of the county executive position,” Calone said in a phone interview. 

Running for the office is something he has been thinking about for a few months. The candidate said he became more committed to his goal after conversations with many who provided strong moral support, such as John Durso, president of the Long Island Federation of Labor, state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), county Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) and Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook).

Without any formal fundraisers, Calone has already raised nearly a million dollars for his campaign, he said.

Currently, Calone, a former federal and state prosecutor, is the only one who has thrown his hat in the ring, but candidates have until early next year to submit their petitions. If other candidates decide to run for county executive on the Democratic ticket, a primary would be held.

The candidate said he wanted to start campaigning early because Suffolk County is a vast area to cover.

“I’m looking forward to meeting with people across Suffolk County over this next year and hearing their ideas and issues, and then we can work to solve those challenges,” he said. 

When he ran in the Democratic primary for Congress in 2016 in the 1st Congressional District, he lost to former Town of Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst by a slim margin of slightly more than 300 votes. He said from the experience he learned how to run an extensive campaign.

“I was able to learn about all the issues affecting people across Suffolk County,” he said. “Many issues are common across the whole area, but there were also some very specific local issues,” adding while some may worry about environmental issues, in contrast others are trying to make ends meet.


Calone grew up in Mount Sinai and graduated from Port Jefferson high school. He went on to achieve his undergraduate degree from Princeton University and his law degree from Harvard. He and his wife, Presbyterian minister Kate Jones Calone, have three children and moved to Setauket 10 years ago when Jones Calone joined Setauket Presbyterian Church.

While a federal prosecutor, his focus was terrorism and international corporate fraud. As a state prosecutor, he fought health care fraud, and won a case that, at the time, was one of the biggest returns of taxpayer money — more than $70 million, according to him.

He is president and CEO of Jove Equity Partners LLC, which helps to start companies and works with owners to build their businesses.

“I’m looking forward to meeting with people across Suffolk County over this next year and hearing their ideas and issues, and then we can work to solve those challenges.”

— David Calone

County issues

Calone listed protecting the environment, improving transportation and economic development among his biggest concerns.

Working in the private sector and being involved in various businesses for more than 15 years, he said experience has provided him with a good deal of knowledge regarding economic development.

The candidate said he believes in supporting small businesses and providing workforce development to make sure “people get the skills they need for the next generation of jobs.”

“I think it is going to be critically important, too, because we live in a very high cost area,” he said. “We need to have people getting good paying jobs to be able to afford to live here.”

His company also created the Long Island Emerging Technologies Fund to help launch businesses coming out of local research labs, which in turn creates local jobs.

As board chair of Patriot Boot Camp, which was recently acquired by Disabled American Veterans, Calone has played a part in helping veterans, active military members and their spouses start their own businesses. He said while the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs holds job fairs, they don’t focus on entrepreneurship, which many military members may be well suited for due to being disciplined and hardworking

He also feels there are different ways to bring town governments together to address similar problems.

When he was chair for eight years of the Suffolk County Planning Commission, the group worked on streamlining solar panel permits throughout the county as each town had a different set of rules, which caused headaches for solar panel companies. The towns came together and agreed on one form, which made the process more streamlined, and the committee received the National Association of Counties 2012 National Achievement Award for the effort.

Calone said he would also like to improve transportation in the county, pointing out that many of the buses are empty or nearly empty and therefore a waste of fuel. He said he would like to see the pilot program that county Legislator Bridget Fleming (D-Noyac) started in Southampton expanded to the whole county. When someone needs transportation, they use a cellphone app and smaller buses are used. He said requesting a bus would be similar to using Uber or Lyft and the service overall would be more efficient.

Regarding development in the county, he said developing near major roadways and travel hubs such as Ronkonkoma train station, as other elected officials have suggested in the past, makes sense. He also said it’s important to create more affordable housing.

“We need to have more housing that works for people at different times of their lives,” he said. “One of the key things is if young people move away, because they can’t find housing here, they’re more likely to stay away and not come back. But if we can keep them here because we have the kind of housing that they need, and the good-paying jobs that they need, they’re more likely to stay here and be the buyers of those single-family homes in the future.”