A compiled list of the Suffolk County candidates up for election on Nov. 5.
Suffolk County Executive
Steve Bellone (D),
Steve Bellone is running for a third term as Suffolk County executive. When he was first elected, Bellone decided to cut his own salary, pay into his own health care plan and refuse other services like a county vehicle. Bellone says the key for our region is to create more high-paying jobs.
“We’re a high-cost region,” he said. “So in order for us to retain young people, we need to continue to expand business growth and get new businesses to locate here.”
The county executive also noted his economic development plan called Connect Long Island, which he says looks to retain and attract young people. He is also proud of his Bethpage Ride, a bike-share program that has been implemented in Patchogue and Babylon, and is coming to other downtown communities in the future.
Also, water quality has always been a big issue for Bellone and his team. He said he has secured hundreds of millions of dollars to improve infrastructure and create sewers. He also mentioned the county’s septic improvement program, which uses county grants to help homeowners replace old septic tanks that leak nitrogen into the groundwater.
Bellone is opposed to fusion voting, an arrangement where more than one political party nominates the same candidate. When asked to reflect back on the last eight years, Bellone stated: “It’s difficult to change large organizations. There’s a desire to protect the status quo. But the truth of the matter is, if we want to make this place better, more livable, more attractive to young people and to families, if we want to bring down costs and create more high-paying jobs, we have to change. You can’t do business as usual.”
Bellone previously served as Babylon Town supervisor and currently lives in West Babylon with his wife and children.
John Kennedy (R, C, I)
Republican comptroller John Kennedy says his big issue is fiscal responsibility.
“It’s something every elected [official] is supposed to have,” he explained. “In one respect or another, we’re fiduciaries.”
The comptroller noted that before being elected to his current post, he served as a county legislator for 10 years. Now, as county comptroller, Kennedy said his administration has saved the county $56 million.
In order to rectify what he sees as a mismanagement of the county’s finances, he said, every department needs to be examined from the bottom up. He noted that Suffolk County has 25 departments. When he joined the county government in the 1980s there were 26 departments, pointing out the only consolidation to take place in that time was in 2016, when the comptroller’s office and treasurer’s office merged.
“Every department needs to be examined from the bottom up,” he said. “We need to implement effective technology and, in some cases, merge [more] departments.”
Kennedy said he’s seriously considering bringing the Parks Department under the Department of Public Works. He also said the county also needs to stop an increase in borrowing and establish more reserve funds to improve the bond rating and prepare for a potential recession.
When asked about crime and the opioid problem, Kennedy said that if elected, he would work in conjunction with the federal government and put additional police details in the areas that are most impacted. He also believes homeless and mental illness problem, within the county, isn’t being addressed and called for reopening the John J. Foley building, in Yaphank, and establishing a long-term substance treatment facility.
Kennedy lives in Nesconset with his wife, who succeeded him as legislator in the 12th district. They have four adult children and seven grandchildren.
Greg Fischer (L)
Greg Fischer is running for Suffolk County executive on the Libertarian Party line in the upcoming elections. Fischer, 62, from Calverton, sees himself as an alternative to the well-known county executive and his challenger the Suffolk County comptroller.
Professionally, Fischer is a consultant to businesses, nonprofits and government. Fischer believes his experience would be an asset to the county.
“I know how to make people win,” he added. “When you’re doing business, you don’t say, ‘Let’s talk to a lawyer.’ You say, ‘Let’s talk to a [businessperson].’”
Fischer said the economy is wrecked, and contributes to the number of residents who have already left Long Island or are planning to leave. He also argues that residents’ paychecks didn’t keep up with the cost of living.
Fischer said overdevelopment benefits the developers, not renters or the community. The inevitable high cost of rent, he added, makes these developments a “scam” because they’re initially marketed as affordable housing.
In regards to the region’s opioid problem, Fischer said it’s largely caused by economic hardships. He added that the focus on gangs, like MS-13, contributing to the drug problem is misguided. Fischer also voiced his support for Scared Straight programs, where young people are brought to prisons and sober homes to see, firsthand, the slippery slope to what addiction can cause.
He expressed criticism of fusion voting, an arrangement where more than one political party nominates the same candidate. He also stated that if elected, it’s a goal of his not to take a salary until he improves the county’s bond rating.
Fischer recently made two unsuccessful runs on Democratic Party lines for New York State senate (District 1) in 2018 and 2016, respectively. He is a single father of four children.
Suffolk County Legislator, District 11
Steve Flotteron (R),
A former Town of Islip councilman, incumbent Steve Flotteron is running for re-election for Suffolk County’s 11th Legislative District Office on the Republican ticket.
Flotteron, who has experience as an insurance agent and stockbroker, played a pivotal role in the revitalization of Bay Shore in the 1990s.
“More than half of the storefronts were vacant,” Flotteron said, adding that criminal activity on Main Street was frequent and normal.
Serving on Bay Shore Summit Council in multiple fashions as well as chairing the code-enforcement committee, Flotteron took part in the overall cleanup of the hamlet and its neighborhoods.
His focus on economic development since then was also evident during his time affiliated with the Town of Islip and afterwards, too. Flotteron secured money and worked to help build 26 playgrounds in the tri-state area in areas that were affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Flotteron led a cause in 2016 to save Brookwood Hall in East Islip and renovate the structure.
Flotteron made note of Suffolk County’s financial situation.
“As one of the richest counties in the U.S., why are we in the worst shape?”
Flotteron said that county officials and decision-makers should focus and hone their particular skills to benefit the county in the most efficient and sufficient way possible.
“There are 18 legislators. Hopefully each one brings their own talents. I think I am the one who stands out as the money and budget guy,” Flotteron said, making note of departing his post at the Town of Islip after playing a part in upgrading the town’s bond rating to AAA.
Another topic of concern that Flotteron has flagged is the lack of focus on tourism on the south shore.
With help from volunteers, Flotteron created a historic trail map highlighting all the historic spots on the south shore, starting with the lighthouse to La Grange, Sagtikos Manor, all the historical sites located in Bay Shore on the national registry, Brookwood Hall, Connetquot River State Park Reserve, and everything in between.
Joe McDermott (D)
Serving as a trustee and later the mayor of the Village of Brightwaters, Joe McDermott is now running for Suffolk County’s 11th Legislative District office on the Democratic ticket. McDermott ran in the same capacity in 2017 and lost to Republican incumbent Steve Flotteron.
McDermott said he made hard decisions as mayor of the village and that an upcoming election cycle never had an impact on those decisions. He said that he would maintain that philosophy if he wins the county seat.
“When I knock on doors,” McDermott said, “I knock on Republicans, Conservatives [and] Democrats [doors] because my theory is when I win — because I’m in it to win it — I have to work for everyone the next day.”
On the topic of the opioid crisis, McDermott suggested to look into a subject in schools dedicated to educating students about drugs and gangs.
“You are not getting rid of gangs all the way, but we can chip away,” he said..
McDermott also mentioned that addressing mental health issues is the core of the opioid epidemic, noting that 22 veterans commit suicide each day.
“We need to focus more on the stuff that we don’t talk about,” he said.
McDermott said he takes issue with the current red light camera program currently instituted in the county. However, McDermott said that trashing the program completely would be a mistake.
McDermott said that serious infrastructure projects are called for across the district office’s jurisdiction. As mayor of the village, McDermott said he took the village to bond twice, once for $1.6 million, and received an AA rating, which directly affected the roadways within Brightwaters.
McDermott said securing funds for road infrastructure should be of high priority for any government that has a hand in Long Island.
McDermott stressed the importance of young adults remaining on Long Island.
McDermott works as a structural ironworker and has been a member of the Local 361 labor union for 23 years.
Joan Manahan (R, C)
Joan Manahan is running for Suffolk County’s 11th Legislative District on the Conservative line. A resident of the Village of Brightwaters, Manahan was a co-founder of the Conservative Party, a charter member and is a long-term committeeperson of the party.
Manahan led a campaign to instate term limits among Village of Brightwaters officials, including trustees. Now, individuals can only hold positions for a maximum of six consecutive years.
If elected, Manahan said she will enforce respect for the law, fiscal responsibility and standing for the American flag.
Suffolk County Legislator, District 10
Tom Cilmi (R, C, L),
Cilmi is running for his sixth and final term to represent the 10th legislative district.
One of his top issues has been more transparency when it comes to the county’s budget. He had been sponsoring a bill for years that would require multi-year budgeting for the county. While it wasn’t his bill that ended up passing, Cilmi said he was “happy to support” a similar proposal, which he insists the county executive “copied” from him and presented as his own.
Cilmi supports narcan training, when it comes to combating the opioid problem, and believes in stricter penalties for drug dealers.
He remains skeptical of the proposed Heartland and Island Hills developments in Brentwood and Sayville, which will ultimately be decided on by Islip Town. Cilmi has stated the current proposal in Brentwood is “too big” and believes, in time, will see a much different project. “We don’t want a bunch of empty [developments],” he added.
The legislator, who also serves as the minority leader in the Suffolk County Legislature, said one of his more recent accomplishments is the redesign of Union Boulevard.
Cilmi and his wife, Anna, have been married since 1987. They live in Bay Shore and have two grown children.
Joe Hagelmann (D),
Hagelmann’s name is on the ballot to represent the county’s 10th legislative district, but he does not appear to be actively campaigning. The multiple attempts this publication made to contact him, in weeks past, went unanswered. The Suffolk County Democratic Committee also wasn’t able to provide background information on the candidate.
Hagelmann, a retired union carpenter, ran for the same post four years ago on a platform that hoped to create more jobs and cleaner waterways. According to our previous reports, Hagelmann is a father and grandfather, and has been married to his wife, Sue, for over 30 years. They reside in Ronkonkoma.