In Suffolk County’s 4th District, Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma) is seeking his sixth term and is being challenged by Democrat David Bligh, an environmental engineer from Holbrook. We reached out to both candidates via email to allow them the opportunity to fill us in on what is on their minds as they campaign.
Incumbent Tom Muratore
We asked Muratore what he was most proud of during his tenure as a county legislator. One was working with multiple government agencies as well as community groups to purchase land for a 24-acre park. The future Selden Park Complex will include multipurpose fields, a walking trail and more.
“This allows for more field space and places for our children to play baseball, field hockey, football, lacrosse, soccer and softball right here in our district,” he said. “The state-of-the-art facility is also a great place to host children with specials needs learning new sports through challenges and inclusive sports offerings.”
The county legislator also counted securing funds for a feasibility study for sewers in his district among his accomplishments.
“The availability of sanitary sewers has the potential to increase business investment, improve water quality and provide greater environmental protection in the Selden/Centereach communities,” Muratore said.
The legislator also has secured $6.6 million for road improvements on County Road 16, Horseblock Road. He said in addition to the road being repaved, handicapped-accessible sidewalks were installed and there were improvements to several crosswalks.
Among the issues facing the county, Muratore cites Suffolk’s financial crisis as one of the biggest issues.
“We must budget responsibly, hold the line on taxes and eliminate the outrageous fees, such as the red-light camera fee,” he said. “We must also reduce our capital borrowing. In the next term, I support a 5-10 percent reduction in capital borrowing.”
Other issues he said are protecting the environment and open spaces; supporting law enforcement and first responders for tackling the opioid crisis; and growing the economy by investing in our energy and transportation infrastructure and revitalizing downtowns.
Challenger David Bligh
Bligh said he feels the biggest issues facing Suffolk County currently are affordability, government accountability and responsiveness. The county’s deteriorating water quality he views as a crisis.
Bligh, who grew up in Ronkonkoma, said he hopes his three children will be able to afford to live on the Island when they grow up.
“We have to make Long Island affordable, especially here in Suffolk County, so that our young people and elderly can afford to stay here, and this county doesn’t simply become a place for the wealthy to dwell in their summer homes,” he said.
Bligh said he considers the deteriorating water quality in the county a crisis as it recently had the highest rate of emerging contaminants in New York State, according to the New York Public Interest Research Group May 2019 report entitled “What’s in My Water?: Emerging Contaminants in New York’s Drinking Water Systems.” He said “every elected official’s number one priority must be the safety of the constituents they serve.”
“If people cannot drink water without fearing toxins such as 1,4-dioxane, PFAS [polyfluoroalkyl substances], and other carcinogens, then we have failed as a government,” he said.
When it comes to government accountability and responsiveness, he said his team knocked on more than 14,000 doors while campaigning, and they repeatedly heard about “constituents calling their local officials about concerns in the community and being largely ignored.” He said too many times elected officials will say that an issue cannot be dealt with on their level of government or it’s outside of their jurisdiction.
He said if a legislator cannot handle an issue, they should call those who can and connect the constituent with them.
“We work for the people, not the other way around,” Bligh said.
If elected, Bligh said he would introduce a comprehensive package of ethics and good government reforms, and implement legislation that allows for the development of affordable housing units.
Also, he said as an environmental engineer for the past 15 years, his job entails remediating contaminated sites, and he looks forward to passing further legislation to protect the water quality and to safeguard Long Island from the effects of climate change.