Suffolk County Legislator Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma), 75, died Tuesday, Sept. 8, leaving behind a career of public service both in police and in local government.
His passing was announced by Suffolk officials Tuesday afternoon.
“For the last 10 years, he served his constituents with passion and unwavering dedication,” said Presiding Officer Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue) in a statement. “Around the horseshoe, he was a quiet warrior. He chose his moments carefully, and when he spoke, people listened. During the COVID crisis, Tom was there for his constituents in every way – even if that meant putting himself at risk – because that is the kind of public servant he was.”
Muratore was born Aug. 19, 1945 and graduated from Central Islip High School in 1963, according to his bio on the Legislature’s website. He has resided in Ronkonkoma with his wife Linda since 1970.
The 10-year legislator served the 4th District, which runs from the Brookhaven portions of Ronkonkoma through Centereach and Selden and as far north as portions of Port Jefferson Station. Before his start, Muratore was a Suffolk County police officer for close to 35 years. He would also become an instructor at the police academy and vice president for the county Police Benevolent Association, a position that he held for 18 years.
“In a changing world with new dangers threatening our families, Tom Muratore was a continuous, experienced protector of those he served,” Suffolk County Republican Committee Chairman Jesse Garcia said in a statement. “He was a one-of-a-kind gentleman who made the world a better place for all of us and cannot be replaced.”
The Ronkonkoma resident was elected to the 4th District in November 2009. He served as vice chair for the Public Works, Transportation & Energy Committee, and also sat on the Environment, Parks & Agriculture as well as the Veterans & Consumer Affairs committees.
Brookhaven town Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) got his start in public office under Muratore, becoming his chief of staff before deciding to run for office himself.
LaValle said the longtime legislator “had a heart of gold,” who would always put himself out to help both his friends and staff, though the line was often blurred between the two.
“He loved representing his district, he loved his residents — he absolutely was a dynamic man and great leader and more importantly a great mentor and friend,” LaValle said.
In 2014, he sponsored a bill to establish an Energy Utility Oversight Task Force. Among his other accomplishments, he was instrumental in helping get a bill passed to secure a 23-acre parcel on Boyle Road in Selden later developed into a Town of Brookhaven ballfield, park and walking trail called the Selden Park Complex. He also cosponsored bills to penalize illegal dumping and helped pass laws to monitor drones in county parks and to provide parking for veterans at county facilities.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) ordered flags at county facilities lowered to half-mast in his honor.
“Tom was the utmost professional, someone who was never afraid to reach across the aisle, especially when it came to working together to protect families, our veterans and our quality of life,” Bellone said in a statement.
In the community, he was known as a supporter of the Bethel Hobbs Community Farm in Centereach. The legislator was also known for his desire to secure funds for sewering in the Selden and Centereach communities. In his last election in 2019, Muratore secured his seat by almost 19 percentage points higher than his nearest opponent.
Hobbs Farm vice president Ann Pellegrino said that Muratore was more than supportive to the community farm that grows fresh produce for a network of food pantries and food programs.
“Without him being in our corner, I don’t know if it would have gone as far as we did, in fact I know we would have never gone as far as we did,” Pellegrino said, trying to talk through holding back tears. “I don’t know if anybody can fill his shoes, his passing is a great loss to our community … the flag has never flown half-mast at the farm, but today it flew half-mast.”
This post was updated Sept. 9 to include quotes from Ann Pellegrino and Kevin LaValle.