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Town Supervisor

Bob Doyle is looking to win a seat as a Smithtown councilman. Photo from Nicole Garguilo.

After an intense shake-up in the Smithtown Republican party last week, four GOP candidates for town council seats are now left standing. Newcomers Bob Doyle and Tom Lohmann, who both have no prior experience running for public office, are hoping to unseat incumbents Tom McCarthy and Lynne Nowick.

Doyle, a Nesconset resident, is a Vietnam Army veteran and retired Suffolk County homicide detective. He said he wants to bring strong leadership back to the town board.

“There is not an advancing agenda right now that will help this town to grow,” Doyle said in a phone interview. “I am looking to be that energy. I believe I can build a consensus and look beyond a political agenda.”

Doyle has a more than 35-year career in law enforcement, where he wore many hats and oversaw several different departments and programs. He said he wants to bring the same guidance he brought to the police department, where he helped bring many MS-13 gang members to justice, as well as other bank and commercial robbers.

“I created the Suffolk County liaison with the FBI that would become the first Suffolk County gang task force,” Doyle said. “It was extremely successful, and made for a tremendous amount of arrests that involved both gang members and seizing of drugs.”

Tom Lohmann wants to represent Smithtown as a councilman. Photo from Nicole Garguilo

After Doyle left the force in 2010 he started a consulting firm that works with police departments across New York State, introducing them to new technology devices to assist law enforcement, as well as training them in how to use it.

The retired officer is also a former Eagle Scout, and president of the Country Pointe Homeowners Association for about nine years. He said he’s proud of the work the board has done to protect and preserve clean groundwater for the residents.

“I am not looking for a career here — I’ve already had a full career and then some — I am looking to put my skills to use,” Doyle said. “I believe we’ve stagnated as a town.”

He said he wants to focus on the failing business districts in the different hamlets of Smithtown, as well as promoting the development of more sewer systems to help make it possible for more businesses and residential areas to lay down roots in Smithtown. He also said he wants to work on improving failing infrastructure, and communication between the town board and the school board.

Lohmann, a Smithtown native, is also looking to lend his experience in law enforcement to the citizens of the town. He started his career as a member of the New York Police Department, and spent more than 30 days working search and rescue at Ground Zero as a 9/11 responder. He retired from the NYPD in 2002, and now works as an investigator for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Insurance Crimes Bureau and part-time as a Head of the Harbor police officer.

“I’d like to thank Bill Ellis and the Republican committee for having the trust in me to do the job and do the job right,” Lohmann said after receiving the nomination at the Smithtown Republican convention last week. “I’ve seen this town grow and I’ve seen change to this town in the last 10, 15 years that I personally haven’t been happy with. My venture into politics hasn’t come without a lot of soul searching. I’ve never backed away from a fight in my life, and I’m running because I think it is the right thing to do.”

According to Lohmann’s media relations team, he intends to resign from his current career if elected, and would treat the job as a full-time position. He wants to focus on uniting law enforcement and local coalitions to end the growing gang violence and substance abuse problems that are affecting towns across the North Shore, as well as repair parks, green spaces and infrastructure in the town.

Former Huntington Councilwoman Tracey Edwards won the Democratic town supervisor primary. File photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

Huntington Town Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) is determined to serve her community no matter what. After the lifelong Huntington resident was diagnosed with breast cancer in Jan. 2016 — the beginning of her second year on the board — she spent the better part of nine months in and out of the doctor’s office, undergoing chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries. Yet  she didn’t miss a single board meeting.

“I came in with my hat, I was bald, but I was there because the residents elected me to do a job — I’m efficient,” Edwards, who is now cancer-free, said with a smile.

That efficiency, along with a list of initiatives to better her community, has put the restless 55-year-old on track for town supervisor.

On Monday, May 1, Edwards sat down for an interview, at Panera Bread on Main Street in Huntington, to discuss her achievements so far on the town board, her upbringing, and campaign for supervisor. Born in Huntington Hospital and raised by a narcotics detective, her father, and a civil activist, her mother, Edwards married her high school sweetheart at 17. She and her husband live in Dix Hills and have three children, and two grandchildren.

Edwards was elected to the town board in 2014, after serving 10 years on the Elwood board of education. She previously served on the board of directors of the Long Island Association and worked for 37 years at Verizon, starting as an operator and climbing the ladder to regional president of network operations.

As councilwoman, Edwards worked alongside fellow councilwoman Susan Berland (D) to expand affordable housing legislation for millennials and first-time home buyers to more easily live downtown and has been a strong advocate for youth-oriented programs that tackle drug awareness, encouraging the town’s partnerships with its school districts and churches to confront Long Island’s heroin and opioid epidemic.

She led the rewriting of the town’s ethics code to make it more transparent for residents. “The residents are our customers and the more I can do to bring government to the people the better it is for a more open government,” she said. She and the board are currently working on a resolution to modify registrations for bow hunting, which has long been a safety concern among residents in Asharoken and Eaton’s Neck.

She also spearheaded the creation of the Huntington Opportunity Resource Center, a program that offers assistance with resume preparation, job searches, exploration of career options and access to job training for unemployed and underemployed residents, many of whom are veterans.

“Tracey has always made the veterans feel like we’re an important part of the community and she’s been a great supporter of us,” Bob Santo, commander of Greenlawn American Legion Post 1244, said in a phone interview. “She’s very honest and straightforward and immediately welcoming. Most recently, HORC organized a special veterans service day where dozens gather to welcome veterans and provide information and social services to them…it’s all due to her leadership.”

If elected supervisor, Edwards said she wants to complete revitalization efforts started in Huntington Station, which includes the construction of veteran’s housing, art space, stores, sidewalks and a parking garage, while working with law enforcement to stamp out crime.

“Huntington Station is the entrance into the village and we need to make sure there is a look and feel all the way down on New York Avenue,” she said. “I saw what Huntington Station used to be with businesses along New York Avenue that were thriving. Unfortunately, that turned into parking lots. Paved parking lots for commuter parking is not what our community is all about.”

She said she also wants to continue to hold the line on taxes under the town’s cap, building on the foundation of financial stability laid by current Supervisor Frank Petrone (D).

Moving forward, she hopes to expand the town’s environmental initiatives, focusing specifically on solar and sustainability. She’s a lead sponsor on the county’s Focused Clean Water resolution that bans formaldehyde in marine water tanks.

Alissa Taff, a civic leader in Melville, said although her group can’t endorse candidates, she appreciates Edwards’ support in voting against a recent proposal to build a HomeGoods on a vacant special groundwater protection area on Route 110. The vote wound up 3-2 in favor of the application, with Petrone and other board members giving the go-ahead.

“She voted not in line with her party but in line with what’s right for the community and the wishes of our civic association,” Taff said. “[In doing so], she showed great concern for the environment and what will become a very high traffic area, and protection of park land. We admire her for that.”

Edwards graduated from Elwood-John Glenn High School in 1978 at just 16, doubling up on the essential courses and eliminating the rest so she could more quickly begin her career — she initially had her heart set on joining the police force but her father steered her away from that idea. She quickly got a job at New York Telephone, which later became Verizon, and felt at home.

But she said she feels most at home helping the people of Huntington.

“When people call me and say ‘I hate to bother you with this…’ I’m very quick to tell them, ‘listen, I work for you…when you’re calling me, don’t apologize. That’s what I’m supposed to be doing, working on your behalf,’” she said. “This town is important to me and I want to make sure I do everything I can for it.”

As incumbent bows out, potential challengers come out of the woodwork

Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone drives through the Cow Harbor Day Parade on Sunday, Sept. 20. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

After more than two decades at the helm, 72-year-old Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) announced last week he will not be seeking re-election this fall for another term as supervisor.

“It is with a considerable sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, as well as a little bit of sadness, that I am announcing today that I will not be a candidate for re-election this year,” Petrone wrote in an open letter last week. He said it was a difficult decision, but felt he had achieved what he wanted to when he first took office.

“Since becoming town supervisor … I have consistently pursued an agenda that mirrored my first campaign slogan: People before Politics,” he said. “My agenda was to run town government in a way that made quality of life for our residents my No. 1 priority. And now, looking back, I believe I have accomplished what I set out to do back in 1993. It is only when an elected official puts people first that politics can be used for the greater good.”

Since being elected supervisor almost 24 years ago, Petrone has worked on issues spanning from creating affordable housing, parking, revitalizing Huntington Station, improving local water quality and more. Petrone said he is proud of his fiscal management record, which includes reducing the debt service from 24 percent to about 7 percent in the operating budget and obtaining and maintaining an AAA bond rating. He also mentioned his environmental record, which includes spearheading the first open-space bond act on Long Island, protecting 1,000 acres of land from development, purchasing more than 300 acres for preservation, creating nine new parks and improving 73 others.

“Since becoming town supervisor … I have consistently pursued an agenda that mirrored my first campaign slogan: People before Politics.” — Frank Petrone

The supervisor credited his achievements to his ability to run a bipartisan government.

“We hired people based on their qualifications and not their party affiliation,” he said. “We worked together as professionals and, when necessary, we reached across party lines to move initiatives forward.”

He thanked the many people in government he’s worked with throughout the years, as well as his wife Pat Petrone “for understanding that the demands of this job are 24/7 and for allowing me to focus on my public responsibilities, sometimes at the expense of family ones.”

At the town board meeting Tuesday, April 4, residents thanked Petrone for his service, and those very people are exactly what he said he’ll miss most.

Town board members praised Petrone for his leadership.

“The supervisor has a great ability to bring people together toward a common goal,” Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) said in an email. “We will miss his guidance, leadership and passion for our great town.”

Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) echoed the sentiment.

“A little more than 23 years ago, Frank Petrone assumed the office of supervisor and inherited a town adrift in fiscal instability, laden with debt and countless quality of life issues needing immediate attention,” he said in an email. “Pledging to place the people above politics, Supervisor Petrone worked in a bipartisan manner to restore Huntington’s fiscal health, implemented numerous programs and enacted commonsense legislation to protect our fragile environment, expand housing opportunities for seniors and moderate income families. Throughout his distinguished tenure as supervisor, Frank Petrone never wavered from doing what was in the best interest of his residents. He demanded the best from his fellow town board members and staff, always stressing the importance of upholding our commitment to fair and just public service. It has been an honor and privilege to serve alongside a compassionate and caring gentleman. He has been a faithful and trusted mentor, and I wish him the absolute best in his impending new role as grandfather.”

Town Councilman Gene Cook (I) said he hopes Petrone’s future is as bright as possible.

“I wish him the very best,” Cook said in a phone interview. “I have the utmost respect for him and I hope his future is everything he wants it to be.”

“Frank Petrone never wavered from doing what was in the best interest of his residents. He demanded the best from his fellow town board members and staff, always stressing the importance of upholding our commitment to fair and just public service.”
— Mark Cuthbertson

As for his own future, as a challenger to Petrone’s seat just four years ago, Cook said he’s interested in hearing from residents to see if they would like him to run for supervisor again.

“It’s up to the people of Huntington to decide and I’d really like to hear from them,” he said. “If there’s support I’ll look into it and see how I feel about it.”

Cook encouraged residents to call or email him if they would like to see him represent them as town supervisor, or even “give me a thumbs-up when you see me in town.”

Darryl St. George, a Greenlawn resident who announced his bid for town supervisor last month also praised Petrone.

“Supervisor Petrone has committed over 20 years of his life to town government,” he said in an email. “I thank him for the positive contributions he has made to our town.”

St. George said he believes the timing is right for a new leader to bring change.

“I commend him on his decision as I know it was a difficult one,” he said. “Now is a time for new and energetic leadership to engage our community, and bring real and meaningful change to our neighborhoods. I am dedicated to doing what is right for the people of Huntington and listening to their ideas and concerns.”

Petrone’s announcement seems to have widened the pool of candidates for his soon-to-be vacant seat, as Huntington Station resident Brian Muellers said soon after Petrone announced he is “very seriously,” considering a run.

Muellers is a former Nassau County Legislator. He served in the 18th District from 2000 to 2003, and is looking to enter the public arena again after leaving his leadership role at Pall Corporation, a global supplier of filtration, separation and purification products. He recently volunteered for the congressional campaign of U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) which Muellers said reinvigorated his desire to give back.

“I am determining for myself if there’s enough interest in the background, experience and leadership I bring for a run for office,” he said in a phone interview. “I have the ability to win tough elections, and I have a strong desire to serve my community.”

Petrone said he feels comfortable leaving office now, as many of the projects he set out to work on when he first campaigned are completed and successful.

“It was a good breaking time for me personally and a good breaking time for the town,” he said at the town board meeting. “Some new blood will come in and sit in this seat and will maybe have some new ideas that I didn’t have. And that’s what the town needs. It needs to keep moving forward and it needs to keep new ideas floating. So I think it’s time to give someone else an opportunity to do that.”