TBR News Media 2021 political endorsements

TBR News Media 2021 political endorsements

Stock photo

TBR News Media published its endorsements in the Oct. 28 editions of our papers, which run from Wading River in the Town of Brookhaven to Cold Spring Harbor in Huntington along the North Shore. As always, these are only our opinions, and we urge you to learn about the candidates and make your own decisions as to whom you will give your vote. We merely share our impressions with you, feeling it our duty since we have personally interviewed them.

Sini is leading DA’s office in the right direction

Photo by Rita J. Egan

We were impressed with the passion of both Tim Sini (D) and Ray Tierney (R), and they both brought good ideas to the table during the recent TBR News Media debate. They also were ready to back up what they said during the interview with documentation.

While Tierney has more experience in the courtroom, Sini made a good point during the debate that being DA is more than being a prosecutor, it’s also about managing the office. This is an important fact as the DA’s office, like many in Suffolk County, has a great deal of taxpayers money to manage. We felt that the current DA has more of a sense of the overall responsibilities.

The relationships Sini has forged through the years with fellow elected officials in the county are also important. Being voted into office after Tom Spota (D) was removed as DA, Sini was tasked with revamping the office. We think he has done a good job in doing so, and we would like to see him continue in the office.

We hope that Tierney, who said he never thought he would be involved in politics, will stay in the arena. He has a lot of good ideas and the passion behind them to fight for the public.

Toulon the only pick for county sheriff

File photo by Kevin Redding

With current Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr.’s (D) only opponent effectively just a name on a ballot box, as he is not actively campaigning, Suffolk voters only really have one choice come Nov. 2. However, we can still give our sincere endorsement to Toulon, who for the past four years has been a pillar of integrity in law enforcement and beyond.

Our interview with Toulon also revealed just how hard change can be regarding Suffolk’s jail system. Despite inroads with trying to help the county’s nonviolent jail population, especially with great ideas like the sheriff’s START Resource Center, a lack of adequate funds for more in-house psychologist staff means it remains tough to give people aid before they reenter society. We agree with Toulon that mental health remains a constant problem in society. The nonprofit advocacy group Prison Policy Initiative reports that more than 44% of locally run jail populations are diagnosed with a mental illness. It only makes sense to get them help when in jail before they have another encounter with law enforcement.

We hope that Toulon keeps pushing for such funds. It was also concerning to hear just how understaffed the sheriff’s department currently is, and it remains incumbent on Suffolk officials along with the Sheriff’s Office to recruit staff. Unfortunately, like much of the law enforcement community, too many of the Sheriff’s Office law enforcement remain unvaccinated. Combined with them interacting with a population of inmates with low vaccination rates, the spread of COVID-19 among officers and inmates remains a key concern.

While we appreciate the COVID precautions in Suffolk jails, and while we understand there is no requirement in Suffolk that law enforcement be vaccinated, we believe top brass of law enforcement need to do more to campaign for vaccinations among staff.

Still, Toulon remains a steadfast and effective sheriff who has found support from both sides of the political divide. We hope he continues with the good work and we look forward to the next four years.

Go with Cuthbertson’s experience in the 18th Legislative District

Photo from Cuthbertson

Both Mark Cuthbertson and Stephanie Bontempi bring a lot of good ideas to the table, and we appreciated their cordialness toward each other despite their campaigns getting off to a bad start with contentious mailers. Both also seemed apologetic about the literature. It shows that both are capable of reaching across party lines and working with others. The fact that they agreed on many issues also demonstrated this character.

In this race, we endorse Cuthbertson whose approach we felt was backed by more facts and data than his opponent. The town councilman also has experience working with elected officials on all levels which would help him to hit the ground running if chosen as county legislator in his district.

We hope that Bontempi will continue to be involved in the town and seek public office in the future if she’s not elected on Nov. 2 to the county legislator seat, as she has a fresh perspective that would be an asset during these divisive times. We were also impressed with her concerns for those in the social services system.

Trotta fights the good fight

Photo by Rita J. Egan

During this election campaign, we have found many candidates who are just placeholders on the ballot. We were disappointed to find that Suffolk County Legislator Rob Trotta’s (R-Fort Salonga) opponents in the 13th Legislative District were not available to debate him. His Democratic opponent is not actively campaigning, and while his Conservative opponent has plenty of signs around the district, he didn’t respond to our requests to debate Trotta. We understand that he has not debated Trotta at all this election season.

We respect that, as a former law enforcement officer, Trotta doesn’t just rubber stamp pay increases for county police officers. While he believes they should be properly compensated, as do we, he doesn’t believe that pay raises should be three times the cost of living. In other words, he understands that one of his jobs is to manage taxpayers money.

He also is a proponent of sewering in the district and is ready to work with towns on this matter.

Rob Trotta has our endorsement.

Leslie Kennedy steps up to the plate

File photo by Desirée Keegan

In the race for Suffolk County legislator in the 12th Legislative District, we endorse Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset).

While some have criticized Kennedy for having a laid-back attitude at times, the legislator has shown time and time again she cares about her constituents.

She can be seen regularly at community events talking with residents, trying to find out what’s on their minds. When she has to deal with an issue, she talks to all parties involved. Sometimes an elected official doesn’t have to grandstand to make a difference.

We were disappointed that her opponent Mike Siderakis (D), stopped actively campaigning a few months ago. Last year he ran for state senator against Mario Mattera (R-St. James) and had a lot of good ideas and solutions. We would have liked the opportunity to sit down with him and hear how he felt about county issues and how to solve them, especially since earlier in his campaign he organized a few press conferences to discuss local issues.

Kennedy has shown once again that she is there to represent her district.

A tough decision for District 4

Nick Caracappa. Photo by Julianne Mosher

While incumbent Nick Caracappa (R-Selden) and newcomer Dawn Sharrock of Selden both have their pros and cons, TBR News Media will leave the choice to you, our readers.

Caracappa, won a special election in 2020 to fill the vacant seat of former District 4 legislator, Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma) and for the last year has done great things.

In the short amount of time in his position, he spearheaded the removal of Stagecoach Elementary School as a voting site, assisted senior veterans with receiving the COVID-19 vaccinations early on and composed a letter to then-governor Andrew Cuomo (D) addressing the dire conditions of our local roadways — which was signed by all 17 legislators and later resulted in the state allocating an addition $30 million to roadway repairs.

However, it is concerning that he led a “anti-mandate” rally, which encourages people to say “no” to the COVID-19 vaccine. While vaccinated himself, and his family, we feel that the role of government is to protect its citizens — especially during a worldwide pandemic that has taken hundreds of thousands of lives.

Dawn Sharrock. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Sharrock is sharp and has a bright future ahead of her. Her roles working on the Middle Country School Board have been impressive. She’s good at it, and we hope she will continue doing that for now. A mother within the district, and one who is involved and caring of our children’s well-beings, we encourage her to attend meetings and get more county experience.

We want her to continue doing the great work she does with our local school district and to keep growing while doing so. With more experience, she could be an excellent candidate down the road for higher office.

Kara Hahn will continue to lead in 2021

Kara Hahn. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Hahn has proven herself over the last several years in her position as county legislator. The current deputy presiding officer, she has done wonderful things for the local community and has always been there to help her constituents when asked.

As an elected official who cares for her environment, Hahn has sponsored legislation to reduce the use of single-use plastics, ban the sale of products containing microbeads, increased fines for illegal dumping and preserved open spaces in Setauket and Port Jefferson Station.

She has improved public access to county parkland by adding parking facilities where none previously existed at McAllister County Park in Belle Terre and new amenities at Forsythe Meadow County Park and Old Field Farm by West Meadow Beach.

But she has also been an advocate for victims of domestic violence and a supporter of small business.

Hahn’s opponent, Republican Salvatore Isabella, has not been actively campaigning and refused to talk to media throughout his run.

While he may be a placeholder, we are disappointed that the political party chose not to have someone serious on the ballot.

Hahn, however, should be applauded for her constant professionalism and dedication to her community — so much so that she has announced a bid for the Democratic Party’s nomination to run for U.S. Congress next year in New York’s 1st Congressional District.

Her advocacy for the environment, mental and public health, as well as the safety of everyone from children to first responders is admirable. We know that for her last legislative run, she will continue to represent her constituents well and be there as a helpful leader just as she has over the last six terms.

Incumbent Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) was the only one who responded to TBR News Media’s invitation for an in-person debate for the election of county legislator for District 5.

We’re looking forward to seeing what her next accomplishments for the county will be.

Anker again for the 6th District 

Sarah Anker. Photo by Julianne Mosher

TBR News Media has chosen to endorse county Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) to represent the 6th District.

Anker, who would be in her seventh term if reelected Nov. 2, proved again that she should finish all the bills and policies she has worked on throughout her near-decade career in politics.

While opponent Brendan Sweeney was enthusiastic during our in-person debate Oct. 11, we believe that Anker should follow through with her final term this year.

Over the last 10 years, Anker has shown true leadership and empathy to her constituents. An elected official who cares about the environment, children and small business, she also cares about the people in the community who might not say thank you — and even her opponent.

Sweeney, at just 28, has a great career ahead of him and has already made milestones for a millennial.

Currently working for the Town of Brookhaven, he would be able to bring that experience to the county, if elected, but we feel he needs just a little more time to truly grow.

Knowledgeable about what the town has done during COVID-19 and with other policies, Sweeney should consider looking more into county data and learn more about the constituents he would like to represent.

Anker knows her area, she has raised her children and worked here for years.

She should finish up her time with the county and, once completed, she can let a new person take the reins — maybe Sweeney down the road.

 Change is welcomed for Huntington Town Supervisor

Rebecca Sanin. Photo by Julianne Mosher

After a series of unfortunate controversies in the Town of Huntington over the last few years, change is welcomed, and Rebecca Sanin is a breath of fresh air.

While Deputy Supervisor Ed Smyth and town board member Eugene Cook are seasoned from their roles and have a wealth of knowledge devoted to the town, Sanin brings a new level of expertise to the table.

As president and chief executive of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, Sanin knows how to talk to people and listen. She said a leader needs to be empathetic and that is something she can do well.

A resident of Huntington Station, she can see all sides of the town from the safer areas to the neighborhoods that struggle with crime and could use a bit of TLC. The three runners each have their strengths; Cook is a strong individual who we admired during the debates. Smyth, an intellectual, has a wealth of knowledge and eagerness to serve. Sanin who at just 43 would be the second female supervisor in Huntington history, and for a community founded in 1653, that change is certainly welcomed.

We think that everyone on the ballot can bring something to Huntington, but Sanin can be a brand-new start for the town.

 Go with Bennardo and Ferro’s depth of knowledge

Photo by Rita J. Egan

When the four candidates for Huntington Town Board walked into TBR News Media’s offices, the atmosphere did not grow strained, as it often does for political candidate debates. In fact, a sense of decorum and comradery settled over the room.

The candidates chatted, listened to each other and complimented each other, while us reporters and editors sat stunned on the other side of the table. It’s a shame that there are not four open councilperson seats up for grabs, as we would have liked to see what could be accomplished if that spirit of compromise we saw around our newspaper’s conference table was transferred to behind the dais in Huntington Town Hall.

However, of the two Republicans David Bennardo and Sal Ferro, and the two Democrats Joseph Schramm and Jennifer Hebert, we were most impressed by Bennardo and Ferro’s depth of knowledge, as well as the more concrete plans they had to bring business to Huntington while stabilizing the tax base.

Bennardo’s experience as superintendent of South Huntington will serve him well in town leadership, and we appreciated Ferro already having a grasp of the amount of money available for environmental grants.

We wholeheartedly ask that whichever two candidates do not secure enough votes Nov. 3 should continue in public life and use that spirit to the benefit of the community at large. Some would call it naive to believe politics could return to a sense of shared bipartisanship, especially once newcomers really start to feel the sting of modern politics, but it’s still something worth trying for.

Keep Wehrheim as Smithtown Town Supervisor for continuity

Photo by Rita J. Egan

The past four years has been a time of change for Smithtown, and with change inevitably comes controversy. Despite that, change, especially regarding aiding Smithtown’s aging infrastructure and struggling small business sector, is an imperative. We here at TBR News Media feel, with the two candidates running for Smithtown supervisor, that incumbent Ed Wehrheim (R) is the best fit for pushing that revitalization.

Wehrheim’s expertise from spending years in the town parks department has paid dividends for the town’s recreation assets. He has a pragmatic sense toward development that’s seen him gain respect of elected officials from across the aisle and in higher levels of government, which is why there are big hopes for the Kings Park Psychiatric Center property to be used partially for sewage treatment. In the four years he’s been in office, Wehrheim has paved the way for St. James and Kings Park revitalization. Part of that rejuvenation is in new apartments, but those new developments have not disrupted the character of Smithtown as some people feared.

In many ways, Democrat Maria Scheuring represents the past, of a suburban ideal being threatened by the changing times. It’s a case of having your cake and eating it, too. She wants small businesses on Main Street to thrive, but she is against new apartments that would bring foot traffic into these downtowns. She agrees with the necessity of protecting the environment but shares no specific alternatives. The Gyrodyne project does require scrutiny, but there is an absolute necessity for Long Island to move away from antiquated cesspools in order to protect both the groundwater and coastal bays.

Not presenting any real answers for how to deal with these problems will only lead to stagnation. We hope Scheuring continues being involved, and that she participates in more town meetings to let her voice be heard.

Wehrheim has the right attitude and work ethic, and we hope to see more of those attributes in the next four years.

Choose Nowick and McCarthy for Smithtown Town Council

Lynne Nowick

After hearing about the vast revitalizations these two candidates have worked on together for the town of Smithtown, TBR endorses both Lynne Nowick and Tom McCarthy council.

Actively setting up a plausible solution to the sewering of Smithtown, both Republican candidates have reached milestones for the town, helping to improve not only the environment but the quality of life for residents. They are well on their way to setting up a plant in Kings Park, which will benefit Smithtown.

Both Nowick and McCarthy have been insistent that New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) helps fund the sewering of Lake Avenue, Main Street, and Kings Park, and do not stop at any obstacle in their way.

Tom McCarthy

They have also revitalized 75% of the town by funding parks, beaches and golf courses, creating a small economic engine for the town, which is something that all residents can appreciate. If elected, they will continue to finish the 25% of the revitalization work left.

TBR likes to endorse candidates that have shown their capability and willingness to live up to their promises. We believe that Nowick and McCarthy truly love their town and will go above and beyond to make sure that the Smithtown residents are happy.

Keep Donna Lent as Brookhaven town clerk

In the race for Town of Brookhaven’s town clerk, TBR News Media endorses Donna Lent (R) for the position.

We believe Lent is the right choice as her experience as town clerk since 2013 has helped the Town of Brookhaven in many different ways.

Donna Lent

Not only is her experience and realistic view of the community something we can all respect, but she has shown us she has not halted in her work when it comes to helping the community such as getting the right permits and documentation they may need.

We were impressed by her detailed responses when posed with the issue of software difficulties and the FOIL process, and we appreciate her continuing efforts to help make information readily available to the public.

Although we are inspired by the passion, vigor and refreshing ideas her opponent Ira Costell (D) has for the position, we hope he continues to use his passion toward other public services. We were especially impressed by his desire to help with mental health problems. Perhaps he could be named “mental health czar” by the town supervisor?

Costell is knowledgeable about the Town of Brookhaven and will go out of his way to help the community.

Understanding there are restrictions to the position as town clerk, TBR sees the improvements made by Lent and we hope to see her make even more if reelected.