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Town Board

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Town unanimously approves comptroller’s plan to breathe new life into aging vehicles through leasing

Smithtown Town Hall. File photo by Rachel Shapiro

Smithtown is going ahead with plans to upgrade its vehicle fleet.

The Smithtown Town Board voted unanimously at its meeting last Thursday night, Jan. 21, to enter into an agreement with Enterprise Fleet Management and gradually upgrade its aging vehicle fleet. Over the next year, the town will begin phasing in 23 new high-mileage vehicles into its fleet with more to come, according to the agreement with Enterprise FM Trust.

The proposal came from town Comptroller Donald Musgnug, who brought Enterprise representatives to the board before a work session earlier this month calling on the town to upgrade its 192-vehicle fleet. Most of those vehicles, Musgnug said, were approaching two decades in age and six-digit mileage numbers.

“Clearly we have an aging fleet,” Musgnug said to the board at the work session. “Enterprise is one of the leaders in this industry. The proposal is on the table.”

Musgnug said Smithtown had about $986,000 set aside in its 2016 budget for the purchasing and maintenance of the town’s vehicle fleet used across various departments, and with Enterprise’s help, the town would be replacing about 173 of its vehicles over the next five years and save money while doing it.

According to the deal, Enterprise would purchase the vehicles directly from various manufacturers and use government incentives while leasing them out to the town for prices Smithtown would not be able to acquire on its own, the Enterprise leasing representatives said.

“We’ve been doing this with a lot of New York entities,” said Jacob Garth, government marketing manager at Enterprise at a work session earlier this month. “We do more than just managing and acquiring vehicles. When we look at the fleet, one of the key objectives we make is to lower the age of the fleet, and a significant portion of your fleet is more than 10 years old.”

Garth said that municipalities like Smithtown typically purchase their vehicles via state contractors, which often limit purchases to only one manufacturer. Enterprise, however, has more than 1.6 million vehicles in its fleet from a range of manufacturers, which Garth argued would give Smithtown more opportunity for savings through open-ended leases.

Fleet consultant Jay Greene of Enterprise also said his group has already signed onto similar agreements with Brookhaven and Huntington towns and started discussing plans with Smithtown back in September.

Councilwoman Susan Berland first tried to limit leaf blowers two years ago. File photo

There was a strong desire for change blowing into town hall during a Huntington Town Board meeting on Jan. 12.

More than a dozen residents spoke out asking the board to reconsider a limit on gas-powered leaf blowers, citing the health problems the blowers can cause. But board members are divided about taking action.

“Lots of people have asthma in Huntington and gas leaf blowers make it worse,” Donald Payne, a Centerport resident said at the meeting. “The particles they release stay in the air for hours.”

Payne also brought up the fact that the town could be losing money by continuing to invest in gas-powered leaf blowers.

“When you pay someone to rake or sweep, most of that money stays on Long Island,” he said. “If you buy gasoline, most of that money leaves Long Island.”

Peter Calcandy, a Halesite resident, said he was concerned with the noise disturbance these blowers continue to have on the community.

“The daily noise from gas-powered leaf blowers that occur nine months out of the year seven days a week and up to 12 hours a day has eroded this wonderful lifestyle,” he said at the meeting.

Bonnie Sager, a Huntington resident, said that residents are not asking for a ban, but merely a restriction during June, July and August.

“There are no leaves in the summer and all gas leaf blowers do is create more emissions and unreasonable levels of noise,” she said at the meeting.

Sager said the town should make the switch to lithium battery blowers, which do not use gasoline, have batteries that can last several years, are recyclable and are much quieter.

She is part of Citizens Appeal for Leafblower Moderation, an organization that wants Heckscher State Park to be used as a model for a green zone, which is an area maintained with zero emission lawn-care equipment. CALM’s goal is to limit the use of commercial gas leaf blowers during the summertime and educate the public about the health hazards gas blowers have.

More than 700 residents have signed a petition asking the town’s board to limit the use of these blowers during the summer months, but this is not the first time this issue has come to the board.

In May 2014, Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) drafted legislation to limit the use of leaf blowers. However, there was not enough support from the board to pass the bill.

Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) said at the meeting last Tuesday that this idea was left open-ended in 2014 because he felt the board needed more information and added that the issue needed to be tackled gradually.

“One of the issues at the time was the fact that it must be, one, phased in or, two, there has to be an educational promotional program that will bring people to an understanding and, number three, there has to be an explanation of the various forms of technology,” he said. “Until then, it’s a project that’s very difficult to examine and implement without doing a full-fledged program.”

He said the town had success when they used an educational program for limiting grass clippings a few years back. The program included teaching residents about mowing fewer times a week and using a specific type of blade to reduce the impact of clippings. Petrone said it was highly successful.

“This is the direction we have to go with,” Petrone said. “We said we would be willing to examine a program and that offer still sits there from my point of view.”

He also said the program would have to focus on educating landscapers and giving them proper direction.

Berland said at the meeting that she is still “absolutely in favor of this,” and that her challenge is convincing the rest of the board to agree.

In a phone interview, she said she would be open to starting with just banning the blowers on Saturdays and Sundays and then working their way up to the entire summer.

Berland said she thinks enforcing this would not be too difficult, because if any resident sees a gas-powered leaf blower in use when it shouldn’t be, they need only take down the name of the landscaping truck or residence and report it to code enforcement.

Some of her fellow councilmembers disagree.

“I think it would be very difficult to enforce,” Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) said in a phone interview. “It could be a significant hardship on business. We would need to see if it’s even feasible for our workforce.”

Councilman Gene Cook (I) said he thinks banning the leaf blowers for the summer months would be too much of an abrupt change, but he is open to learning more about the alternatives and seeing if there is a possible way to enforce change.

“I think we would need a slower method to get people used to the idea,” he said in a phone interview.

Deer rutting season means more of the animals running out on local roads. Photo by Rohma Abbas

With the first deer-hunting season in Eaton’s Neck coming to a close, Huntington residents and town board officials are evaluating if the new bow hunting rules are a success.

Huntington Town spokesperson A.J. Carter said in a phone interview that the board plans to gather different viewpoints and “assess what to do going forward,” to see if the town achieved its stated goal of cutting down the deer population.

The board voted to allow bow hunting of deer in early September, amending the town code to allow it in Eaton’s Neck under the direction of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation during the state’s deer hunting season, between Oct. 1 to Jan. 31.

Joe DeRosa, an Eaton’s Neck resident and president of the civic group Eaton’s Neck Corporation, said he thinks this season has gone well.

A petition on Change.org calls for an end to deer hunting in Eaton's Neck. Screen capture
A petition on Change.org calls for an end to deer hunting in Eaton’s Neck. Screen capture

According to DeRosa, the community has hunted and removed more than 60 deer — and residents have noticed a difference.

“During the day, you don’t see too many deer at all,” DeRosa said in a phone interview. “The number of sightings has drastically declined since this time last year.”

DeRosa said his expectations for the town measure have been met.

Some residents do not share that sentiment.

A petition on activism website Change.org, created in November, now has more than 500 supporters who want the Huntington Town Board to stop allowing hunting in residential areas. The petition expressed safety concerns from neighbors who have hunters on adjacent lots acting close to their own properties.

“These deer slayers now roam freely in the Town of Huntington with no enforced restrictions, regulations or policing of any kind,” the petition states. “They come and go, killing and wounding at will.”

When the law passed in September, Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) said measures would be taken so “it’s not just ‘Joe the hunter’ coming in.”

According to the resolution, anyone with a DEC permit can hunt on their own Eaton’s Neck property or on such a property where they have the owner’s consent.

DeRosa said residents were advised to call the Suffolk County Police Department with any complaints or concerns they had after the law was enacted, but neither a police spokesperson nor a DEC spokesperson could immediately confirm whether their departments received any complaints.

Many of the people who signed the petition are not actually from the Huntington area, with some living as far as Delaware and Pennsylvania.

DeRosa said the petition does not reflect the overall consensus of the community.

The Eaton’s Neck Corporation conducted a resident survey earlier this year, before the town took action, and more than 85 percent wanted something done about the perceived overpopulation of deer in their area, according to DeRosa.

“The community asked for help and they got what they wanted,” he said. “This is a community effort.”

The issue was a hot debate in the summer and fall, with many people concerned about the traffic danger deer posed as well as the threat of spreading Lyme disease.

In addition to the bow hunting law, the town board created a deer management program to research alternative methods of lowering the deer population, such as contraceptives or herding programs. Carter said that program is still in the early stages of development.

Friends, family and town officials gather to remember Maggie Rosales, Danny Carbajal and Sarah Strobel in Huntington Station on Thursday. Three trees were planted in their honor. Photo by Mary Beth Steenson Kraese

Huntington residents are calling on their elected officials to change the way their Public Safety Department operates.

At a Dec. 8 town board meeting, residents said former Suffolk County Chief of Detectives Dominick Varrone, who is a consultant for the town department, is not necessary as the town’s connection to the 2nd Police Precinct to increase safety and control crime.

The Huntington Town Board hired Varrone as the town liaison to the police department in 2014 and gave a $50,000 budget to his company, Varron Solutions LLC, to provide consulting services and act as the town’s contact with the police, community leaders and social services agencies. The business was also required to assist in restructuring Public Safety to better protect and control crime in the Huntington Station community — the main reason the town hired Varrone.

But residents are saying Varrone isn’t essential to reducing crime.

According to Huntington Matters member Robert Rockelein, Varrone hasn’t been very active in his role to increase safety in the town.

“The Huntington Matters and the Huntington Matters Neighborhood Watch have not seen or heard of any policy, procedure or project initiated or influenced by Dominick Varrone over the last year,” Rockelein said during the meeting, speaking for the two civic groups.

He added that his organization attends meetings regarding safety in Huntington, but he has seen Varrone at only a handful of those meetings.

Other residents said the town doesn’t need Varrone at all.

“I think $50,000 a year for Dominick … we could spend $50,000 somewhere else,” Jim McGoldrick, a Huntington Station resident, said during the meeting. “We could spend it on our children, on a drug program or something like that.”

He also said 2nd Precinct Commanding Officer Christopher Hatton is doing a good enough job on his own when it comes to the town’s safety.

The town hired Varrone in November 2014, after a series of murders in Huntington Station and subsequent demands and fears from residents regarding security. Maggie Rosales, one of the victims, was stabbed to death in Huntington Station that October, a few blocks from her home.

Huntington Matters was also born out of that series of incidents, with the goal of facilitating better communication between the government, the community and the police.

Despite resident comments on Dec. 8, Huntington Town spokesman A.J. Carter said Varrone works closely with police and other agencies to address safety concerns and crime in the area.

Councilman Eugene Cook (I) was the only board member to vote against extending Varrone’s contract into 2016. He said Varrone’s sparse appearances as the town’s liaison swayed his decision.

“I think Dominick is doing a good job, but he needs the presence,” Cook said in a phone interview. He added that safety within the town is important to him, and he planned to meet with Varrone to discuss improving his presence in the community.

Varrone did not return messages seeking comment.

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File photo

The Smithtown Town Board is changing the way it allows the public to speak during its regular meetings.

The board voted 4-0 at its Nov. 19 meeting to amend Chapter 76 of the town code, which regulates public participation at town meetings, adding a three-minute limit to remarks and restricting the sharing of that time with other speakers. In an interview, Smithtown Supervisor Pat Vecchio (R) said the amendments were borne out of the nature of recent Town Board meetings in which some speakers spoke aggressively or with hyperbole.

“Members of the public and Board members shall be allowed to state their positions in an atmosphere free of slander, threats of violence, or disorderly conduct which disturbs the peace and order of the board meeting,” the amendment said.

Councilman Ed Wehrheim (R) was not present at the meeting.

According to the amendment, speakers must submit their names to the town clerk before a meeting if they wish to speak, while also specifying what they will be commenting on. The speakers will be allotted three minutes, which starts at the beginning of their remarks and includes any time that passes during questioning or colloquy, the amendment said. That time cannot be shared with other speakers.

Over the last several years, residents often approached the board with specific concerns, oftentimes directed at council members who serve as liaisons to specific departments. But now, those kinds of concerns cannot be directed solely at a specific member of the board, as the amendment said that remarks could only be addressed to the board as a body, and speakers cannot mention any specific member.

The new additions to the town code also included a chance for board members to warn speakers that they may be cut off at any time if they violate the new rules.

“Any person making offensive, insulting, threatening, insolent, slanderous or obscene remarks or who becomes boisterous or who makes threats against any person or against public order and security during a Board meeting or engages in any disorderly conduct which disturbs or disrupts the orderly conduct of any meeting shall be called to order by the presiding officer,” the amendment said. “If, after receiving a warning from the presiding officer, a person persists in violating the rules of decorum, the presiding officer may order that person to leave the meeting.”

The blighted Oxygen Bar property in Rocky Point could soon be demolished. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Rocky Point may soon have one less eyesore in its downtown business district.

After four years, Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) said the town finalized its purchase of Rocky Point’s Oxygen Bar property. The Town of Brookhaven acquired the land for $525,000 — a sum $275,000 less than the property owner’s asking price.

On May 9, 2011, the town shut down the business after four people were involved in a non-fatal shooting on the premises. The bar’s Place of Assembly permit, which allows people to gather and conduct activities at the location, also expired.

For several years, the owner of the Oxygen Bar property rented the establishment to various operators and promoters. Cafe Brianna was one of many businesses that used the establishment before the Oxygen Bar, but that eventually closed due to limited parking. When the bar came into town, initially the CVS across the street allowed cars from the neighboring business to park in its parking lot, but that agreement changed after the shooting.

As the area strayed from a family-friendly location, the town hoped purchasing the property would help revitalize the area — something Bonner started working on before she got into office.

According to Bonner, the bar’s poor business plan contributed to its failure in the business district.

“It’s one thing to always have a dream,” Bonner said. “It’s another thing to meet and discuss your business plan.”

The bar owners held wet T-shirt contests, gentlemen’s nights and other events to attract residents to the premises, but their attempts were unsuccessful. Since the bar closed in 2011, the property has remained vacant.

Now, the town may demolish the building before spring. The plan is to landscape and beautify the property after tearing down the building. The project would add to the property’s infrastructure improvements, which the town finished last year.

“This is wonderful for Rocky Point,” Bonner said. “[The bar’s] always been a blight and an eyesore even when it was operating.”

Councilmen Mark Cuthbertson and Gene Cook, at opposite ends, argue at a town board meeting on Thursday, Nov. 5. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

The Huntington Town Council approved its $188.7 million budget on Thursday, but not without a heated discussion between Councilman Gene Cook (I) and Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) over Cook’s vote.

The budget passed with a 4-1 vote, with Cook as the lone opposition.

The budget included a 0.2 percent decrease in overall spending, a 1.3 percent increase in property tax levy and a $15 million capital budget, the town said in a press release.

This budget will amount to a $29 increase for the average homeowner.

The $15 million capital budget also focused on improvements to the town’s infrastructure, such as rehabilitation of various plants and pump stations in the Dix Hills Water District and headwork improvements in the Huntington Sewer District. Funding was included for road rehabilitation, drainage infrastructure and paving.

The town budgeted an additional $1.9 million for the town’s highway department, due to last year’s severe winter. That increase was offset by “little-to-no” increases in the other major town funds, and decreased spending in some of the special districts, the town said in a press release.

“This was a difficult budget to put together, given the limitations of the tax cap and increases in costs, such as health insurance,” Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) said in a statement. “But I am pleased that we were able to maintain services and programs our residents want and have come to expect.”

Cook said he was not in support of the budget.

“We, as taxpayers, will be given $15 million worth of bonding,” Cook said at the meeting, just before the budget was approved. “I find that horrendous. I think there are better ways of doing this, so I will be voting no.”

Cuthbertson said that this has become an annual right of passage for Cook.

“I have taken to calling this ‘having your cook and eating it too,’” Cuthbertson said at the meeting. “For the fourth year in a row now, Councilman Cook has offered no advice on the budget and no budget amendment. He simply votes no.”

Cook countered, asking Cuthbertson if he felt better after making that comment and Cuthbertson said he did, because he had stated his case.

“Tell us what you would do instead,” Cuthbertson said.

Cook, who just finished months of campaigning for a successful re-election bid, has said at many events that he feels there is a lot of mismanagement and misappropriation of funds within the town budget. He said he wants to see more consolidation to save taxpayer dollars.

“I want to start each department with a $0 budget, and have them tell us why they need money,” Cook said. “We need to have the directors of these departments be more responsible.”

Cuthbertson questioned if that was possible.

“I don’t see the building department starting off with a $0 budget,” he said. According to Cuthbertson, budgets start with requests from departmental heads.

“We scrutinize those requests very carefully,” Cuthbertson said in a phone interview on Friday. “But at the end of the day, we have to deliver services.”

Cuthbertson said that every councilmember has an obligation to offer amendments if they disagree with the budget.

“But he never does that; he never offers suggestions,” he said of Cook.

At the meeting, Cook suggested that he might present his own budget next year.

“I think it’s about time,” Cook said. “But the problem is, nobody listens to me.”

But county Legislator Sarah Anker has just one-vote lead; longtime Smithtown board member ousted; and all local boards maintain huge majorities

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Legislator Sarah Anker are all smiles on Election Day. Photo by Rohma Abbas

The incumbents won big on Suffolk County’s North Shore this Election Day, with only a couple real upsets at the county and town levels.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) handily won a second term at the helm against his Republican challenger, lawyer Jim O’Connor, with 57 percent of the vote.

Bellone thanked many people for his victory and also thanked his opponent for a “good race.”

Steve Bellone gives a speech after being re-elected Suffolk County executive. Photo by Rohma Abbas
Steve Bellone gives a speech after being re-elected Suffolk County executive. Photo by Rohma Abbas

“Tonight the people of Suffolk County delivered a mandate: to advance the issues we talked about in this campaign,” he said, at the Democratic Election Night headquarters in Hauppauge. “To continue the reform government so that we can protect taxpayers, make government more efficient and effective. To reverse the decades of decline that we have seen in water quality so that we can protect this precious natural resource for ourselves and future generations.”

He vowed that he would work hard for the voters.

“To the people of Suffolk County: I want to thank you for the confidence you placed in me and this incredible team of legislators. I can guarantee you we will repay that confidence by working hard every single day to make progress on the issues that matter to you and to you families. We may celebrate a little bit tonight but that work begins tomorrow.”

Though Bellone was the clear winner early on, O’Connor said he was proud of his campaign.

“I think we talked about the issues that need to be talked about here on Long Island,” he said.

Despite the results, the challenger enjoyed himself: “I love this. … In America we run for office, we put our ideas forward and we let the people decide.”

Steve Tricarico, Legislator Sarah Anker's Republican challenger, feels confident about a win on Election Day. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Steve Tricarico, Legislator Sarah Anker’s Republican challenger, feels confident about a win on Election Day. Photo by Giselle Barkley

In the Suffolk County Legislature, incumbents from Brookhaven, Smithtown and Huntington towns won re-election, one of them by a razor-thin margin: Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai), who represents the 6th District, was leading her challenger by just one vote after the polls closed. It was not immediately clear if absentee ballots would tilt the scales in the favor of Republican candidate Steve Tricarico, a Brookhaven Town deputy highway superintendent. But Anker said Tuesday night that she felt “cautiously optimistic.”

Tricarico felt the same way.

“I’m feeling very confident,” he said before results were in. “This shows … that people are looking for a change. That’s what I’ve been offering.”

According to Tricarico, Republican absentee ballots outnumbered those of the Democrats, which he said boosts his confidence.

But Suffolk County Democratic Party Chairman Rich Schaffer was calling it in the other direction: “Sarah Anker — mark my words — in about two weeks will be a newly re-elected legislator.”

Anker said her election demonstrates that each vote counts. Asked what could have led to such a close race, the legislator said she’s got the political cards stacked against her as a Democrat representing a largely Republican district.

Legislator Kara Hahn and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone embrace after both are re-elected. Photo by Rohma Abbas
Legislator Kara Hahn and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone embrace after both are re-elected. Photo by Rohma Abbas

“Most political strategists have never understood how I won it the past three times, much less this fourth time,” she said. “But I feel it’s because the people appreciate what I do. They’re looking for leadership.”

From there, it was smooth sailing. Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), the 5th District legislator, beat Republican challenger Donna Cumella, of Port Jefferson Station, with 63 percent of the vote. In the 13th, Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) beat Kings Park Democrat Rich Macellaro with more than 70 percent of the total.

In Huntington, Legislator Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills) won his final term in the 16th District against Republican attorney Tom McNally with 60 percent of the vote.

“We understand what’s on the minds of our constituents, we listen to our constituents, and we deliver for our constituents,” Stern said.

Also, Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) took the 18th District against his challenger from the right, Grant Lally, after garnering 56 percent of the votes.

“It’s exhilarating,” a joyous Spencer said. “It’s really is. After two years of hard work and six-month campaign, to really have the people recognize I’m giving my heart and soul to try to support us means a lot to me.”

Doc Spencer celebrates a win on Election Day. Photo by Rohma Abbas
Doc Spencer celebrates a win on Election Day. Photo by Rohma Abbas

Despite her loss, Cumella stayed positive and said she wouldn’t let this year’s election deter her from running for the same position in the future. She said she is now “a little bit more educated with the political arena.”

About her victory over that Republican, Hahn said, “I’m really gratified by the confidence the community has shown in me and I very much appreciate it and I plan to work just as hard as I’ve worked in the last four years.”

Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma), the 4th District legislator, and the 12th District’s Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset) were effectively unopposed for re-election and secured their next terms.

“I’m ecstatic,” Muratore said. “Maybe we can bring some of our ideas to the table … We’re about doing the right things to people.”

Supervisor Ed Romaine celebrates his re-election as the head of Brookhaven Town. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Supervisor Ed Romaine celebrates his re-election as the head of Brookhaven Town. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Kennedy said she did not spend time campaigning and was pleased with the outcome.

“I want to go home and go to bed so I can wake up tomorrow ready to vote on the Operating Budget Committee board,” she said.

Brookhaven Town saw its supervisor, Ed Romaine (R), and its highway superintendent, Dan Losquadro (R), re-elected easily — Romaine won 72 percent of the votes against Democratic challenger Douglas Dittko and Losquadro beat out his own Democratic opponent, Jason Kontzamanys, with 69 percent of the voters’ support.

Romaine called his landslide victory “encouraging” and Losquadro said, “I really feel that this is a validation of the work that we’ve been doing in the town.”

“It’s such a big department, and really, for the fundamental services that people expect from their tax dollars are that their roads are safe, cleared of snow and debris, and I’m very excited to be given the opportunity to continue to do that work.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright go in for a kiss after both win re-election. Photo by Rohma Abbas
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright go in for a kiss after both win re-election. Photo by Rohma Abbas

The three incumbents running for re-election to the Brookhaven Town Board on the North Shore were returned to their seats. Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) beat Republican challenger Ed Garboski, the president of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association. She had 56 percent of the vote to his 44 percent.

“I worked really hard,” she said Tuesday night. “The community came together.”

She has no small task ahead of her. If all of the election results stand, she will be the only Democrat on the Town Board next year, after her effectively unopposed North Shore colleagues Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) and Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) won re-election, as did South Shore Republican Councilmen Dan Panico and Neil Foley. But Cartright’s lone Democratic colleague, Councilwoman Connie Kepert, was ousted by Republican challenger Michael Loguercio Jr.

“I’m kind of speechless, which isn’t normally the case for me,” Bonner said about winning by a large margin. “I’m super, super excited to get started, move forward. I can’t wait to get to work tomorrow.”

LaValle called his own win an “honor.”

Over in Huntington, town board incumbents Gene Cook (I) and Susan Berland (D) were returned to the board after a four-way race with 27 percent and 24 percent of the vote, respectively. Democratic challenger Keith Barrett and Republican challenger Jennifer Thompson fell short, each garnering about 22 percent of the vote.

“I can’t wait until tomorrow,” Cook said Tuesday night. “I felt good throughout today because I’m always honest and I think I’ve shown that in the last four years.”

Councilmen Ed Wehrheim and Bob Creighton discuss the Smithtown board election results. Photo by Phil Corso
Councilmen Ed Wehrheim and Bob Creighton discuss the Smithtown board election results. Photo by Phil Corso

Berland said she was “proud and humbled” to be re-elected.

“I just want to keep doing good things for the people of the town and making the town the best place it can possibly be,” she said.

Smithtown Town Board experienced a bit of an upset. Councilman Ed Wehrheim (R) was re-elected to one of two board seats, after receiving 31 percent of the vote, but his colleague Bob Creighton (R) was unable to battle back after losing a Republican primary to newcomer Lisa Inzerillo.

Inzerillo was elected Tuesday night with 28 percent of the vote, as compared to Creighton’s 20 percent. The latter total was even lower than that of the lone Democratic candidate for Town Board, who lost after garnering just 22 percent of the vote.

Inzerillo held a private gathering at her home Tuesday night and did not respond to requests seeking comment, but took to her Facebook page to thank her team.

Larry Vetter says the people have spoken in choosing not to elect him. Photo by Kevin Redding
Larry Vetter says the people have spoken in choosing not to elect him. Photo by Kevin Redding

“I am grateful beyond words for all of the support I received from residents,” she said. “It is very humbling to know my grassroots campaign was successful. I look forward to working with the new town board and working for the residents that elected me.”

Wehrheim, who frequently works with Creighton on town projects, called Inzerillo’s win “a loss for Smithtown” and called his own victory “bittersweet” as he prepared to work with the newcomer. Creighton apologized to his room of supporters Tuesday night, adding that he was “sorry things didn’t work out.”

About his defeat, Vetter said, “The message is clear: The town didn’t want me. … Apparently the town is satisfied with what they have.”

Earlier in the night he had said, “If I lose and it’s tight, I might try again. If I get clobbered, I’m not gonna do it again.”

Rohma Abbas, Giselle Barkley, Phil Corso, Victoria Espinoza, Desirée Keegan, Kevin Redding and Eric Santiago contributed reporting.

Follow #TBRVotes on Twitter for up-to-the-minute posts on the election.

Suffolk County Executive
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, a Democrat, was running for re-election against Republican challenger Jim O’Connor. With 1,047 of 1,052 election districts reporting, Bellone was leading 57 percent to 43 percent.

4th Legislative District
Legislator Tom Muratore, a Republican, was looking for a fourth term against absentee Democratic challenger Jonathan D. Rockfeld. With all election districts reporting, Muratore had 74 percent of the vote.

5th Legislative District
Kara Hahn, the Democratic incumbent, was facing off against Republican challenger Donna Cumella. With 53 of 54 election districts reporting, Hahn had 63 percent of the vote to Cumella’s 37 percent.

6th Legislative District
Legislator Sarah Anker (D) faces a challenge from Republican Steve Tricarico, a Brookhaven Town deputy highway superintendent, in her quest for a third term. With all election districts reporting, Anker had 49.99 percent of the vote to Tricarico’s 49.98 percent. They are just one vote apart. Anker described her feelings as “cautiously optimistic.”

12th Legislative District
Leslie Kennedy, a Republican, was largely unopposed for re-election, against absentee Democratic challenger Adam Halpern. With 62 of 63 election districts reporting, Kennedy had 70 percent of the vote.

13th Legislative District
Legislator Rob Trotta (R) was running for another term in the Legislature against a familiar face, Kings Park Democrat Rich Macellaro. With 64 of 65 election districts reporting, Trotta had 71 percent of the vote.

16th Legislative District
Steve Stern, a Democratic legislator, wanted to win his final term in office against Republican attorney Tom McNally. With all election districts reporting, Stern won with 60 percent of the vote to McNally’s 40 percent.

18th Legislative District
Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D) was vying for a third term against Republican challenger Grant Lally. With all election districts reporting, Spencer won with 56 percent of the vote to Lally’s 44 percent.

Brookhaven Town Supervisor
Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) was running for re-election against Democratic challenger Douglas Dittko. With 294 of 296 election districts reporting, Romaine had 72 percent of the vote.

Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent
Dan Losquadro, the Republican incumbent, was in a race for another term against Democratic challenger Jason Kontzamanys. With 294 of 296 election districts reporting, Losquadro had 69 percent of the vote.

Brookhaven Town, 1st Council District
Councilwoman Valerie Cartright, a Democrat from Port Jefferson Station, was facing off against Port Jefferson Station civic leader Ed Garboski, a Republican, in the race for town board.
With all election districts reporting, Cartright won with 56 percent of the vote.
She said, “I worked really hard. The community came together.”
If all election results stand, Cartright will be the only Democrat on the town board next year — her one Conservative and four Republican colleagues won re-election and her only Democratic colleague was ousted by a Republican.

Brookhaven Town, 2nd Council District
Jane Bonner, the Conservative councilwoman, was running against an absentee challenger, Democrat Andrew Berger, in her quest for a fifth term on the town board. With 46 of 47 election districts reporting, Bonner had 69 percent of the vote.

Brookhaven Town, 3rd Council District
Kevin LaValle (R) was hoping to win another term as a town councilman against absentee Democratic challenger Christian DeGeorge. With 50 of 51 election districts reporting, LaValle had 74 percent of the vote.

Huntington Town Board
Incumbents Susan Berland (D) and Gene Cook (I) were running for new terms on the town board against Democratic challenger Keith Barrett, the town’s deputy director of general services, and Republican challenger Jennifer Thompson, a Northport school board trustee. In this race, the two candidates with the highest vote counts win seats. With all election districts reporting, Cook was on top with 27 percent of the vote to Berland’s 24 percent, Barrett’s 22 percent and Thompson’s 22 percent. Conservative Michael Helfer had 5 percent of the vote.
Cook said, “I can’t wait till tomorrow. … I felt good throughout today because I’m always honest and I think I’ve shown that in the last four years.”

Smithtown Town Board
Councilmen Bob Creighton and Ed Wehrheim, both Republicans, faced challenges from Republican Lisa Inzerillo, who beat out Creighton in a Republican primary in September, and Democrat Larry Vetter. The two candidates with the most votes win seats on the town board in this race. With all 92 election districts reporting, Wehrheim took the lead with 31 percent of the vote, followed by Inzerillo (28 percent), Vetter (22 percent) and Creighton (20 percent).
Wehrheim, who frequently works with Creighton on town projects, called Inzerillo’s win “a loss for Smithtown” and called his own victory “bittersweet” as he prepared to work with the newcomer.
Vetter said, “The message is clear: The town didn’t want me. … Apparently the town is satisfied with what they have.” Earlier in the night he had said, “If I lose and it’s tight, I might try again. If I get clobbered, I’m not gonna do it again.”

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Susan Berland and Gene Cook talk at a Huntington Town Board meeting. File photo

There’s a lot of fire in the race for Huntington Town Board this year: You could see unfriendly sparks flying between incumbents Susan Berland (D), of Dix Hills, and Gene Cook (I), of Greenlawn, at a debate hosted by TBR Newspapers. Passion for public office is one thing these two have in common, and that’s where the similarities end.

But it’s that, coupled with their experience in the positions and unique political strengths that this paper endorses Berland and Cook for four-year terms on the board.

Say what you will about Berland, who is unpopular in Elwood for her controversial vote in favor of rezoning land to make way for The Seasons at Elwood — a huge condominium development geared toward the 55-and-up community — but the councilwoman works hard; it is her full-time job. She has also worked to sponsor legislation that’s made a difference, including laws that help put an end to blight and legislation to regulate the invasive bamboo, which can frequently be a nuisance to neighbors.

Cook’s greatest strength lies in being the sole minority party member on the board, and his willingness to speak up when something fishy is going on, whether he’s right or wrong. The Democratic-majority board members fall in line on mostly all votes, and Cook is often the one to keep Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) on his toes. Dissension is important: It encourages compromise and analysis, and prevents elected officials from slipping controversial measures past residents.

This wasn’t an easy choice. Democrat Keith Barrett, of Huntington Station, is a fine candidate. He has good ideas and has already reduced expenses and reorganized services as head of the town’s general services department. With a few more years under his belt, he’d be ready to take another stab at Town Board.

While Republican Jennifer Thompson possesses great communication skills and the right attitude, she would be stronger in her current role on the Northport-East Northport school board.

Vote for Cook and Berland on Tuesday.