Front-runners for Brookhaven supervisor

Long Island Advance

Front-runners for Brookhaven supervisor
Town Dems for Beedenbender; Romaine announces for Republicans


Brookhaven’s Democratic Committee decided on Brian Beedenbender, Mark Lesko’s chief of staff, on Monday night to run for the Brookhaven supervisor position, while Legis. Ed Romaine made his own announcement as a Republican in the running for the job Monday

“I have a wonderful job and I love my legislative district, but there are two reasons I want to run. One is the challenge of putting the town on the right track and the second is my son,” Romaine told the Advance. Romaine’s son, Keith Romaine, 36, had just been reelected as Brookhaven Town councilman in November 2009 and was jubilant on election night, even joking that he had lost weight during the campaign. Shortly after, he contracted pneumonia and died from complications that attacked his heart.

As Lesko’s chief of staff, Beedenbender, who grew up in Selden and Centereach, has had a hand in the town’s critical decisions and issues, working on the Blight to Light, Accelerate Long Island and Quality of Life task force initiatives. Beedenbender said if elected, the first focus would be the budget, as well as the Ronkonkoma Hub. Another main concentration would be North Bellport. “There are a lot of hardworking people trying to fight back the bad elements,” he said. “Whether it’s concentrating on better roads there, we have to invest in the infrastructure to help the area out,” he said, pointing to the community meetings to make Robert Rowley Park safer. There was no walkable supermarket or bank — needing attention, as well as the Bellport Outlets. Beedenbender said one resident
related he worked two jobs and had two good kids. “He said, ‘I just want to go down the street and not worry about them,’ ” Beedenbender related. “I think all community revitalization efforts have to be community based. If I’m supervisor, you’ll hear me talk quite a lot about that.”

Beedenbender also said job creation was key in his platform and touted Amneal Pharmaceuticals’ Oral Solids & Softgels location on Horseblock and Sills roads that created 400 jobs at good paying wages. He wrote the town’s redistricting law, has been one of the principals putting the budget together and chaired the Core Services Working Group that tapped JVC Broadcasting to operate the Brookhaven Amphitheater, at a savings of $200,000 annually.

Romaine said if elected he would follow the first principle of the Hippocratic Oath.

“First do no harm,” he said. “I’m very much for community planning and for the environment,” he told the Advance. “I’ve been endorsed by every major environmental group on Long Island. I truly look at Brookhaven Town as 44 different groups and am hoping to make sure each community is heard. Otherwise, you fail in your mission. When you miss one, you miss all.” While gravely concerned about the town’s fiscal health, Romaine said cutting employees would be last on his list. “I’d rather use employees than consultants,” he added.

He also pledged to protect the Carmans River watershed, restore impaired waterways like the Forge River and Moriches Bay, and scrutinize the threat of nitrogen contamination in the area’s groundwaters.

Romaine also promised to focus on job growth, resurrect blighted commercial and industrial properties and protect natural resources. Patchogue Village Mayor Paul Pontieri, a main candidate seriously considered by the Dems, pulled out as a contender. Pontieri, who won a contentiously fought election in March that drew a 60-percent vote, said his ultimate decision was influenced by his love of Patchogue Village, citing his job as “the best one could ever ask for” as well as his confidence -in Beedenbender. “He is smart, understands the needs of the town and most important he is young,” Pontieri said. “He understands what his generation needs for them to stay on the Island.”

“The Brookhaven Democratic Committee made that decision and we will recommend him to the full committee,” said Suffolk County Democratic Chairman Rich Schaffer of Beedenbender. "We need someone who knows the issues and who can hit the ground running,” he said. “And Brian knows what it’s like to be a relatively young person in these tough economic times.”

At press time, Brookhaven Republican Chairman Jesse Garcia still hadn’t announced the party’s choice, which, along with Romaine, included possible candidates like Assemblyman Dean Murray, up for re-election, who announced he would focus on his assembly district
campaign on Tuesday. “We’ve accomplished quite a bit over the last 2 1/2 years, but there’s still more work to do, bringing about real mandate relief and property tax relief and generally keeping things going in the right direction to make it a business friendly state to create jobs and improve the economy,” Murray told the Advance. “There’re always ongoing projects we’re working on with local government. I’m really happy with the progress and want to keep the momentum going.”

Garcia had high praise for Romaine. “Ed Romaine has been one of the most popular effective elected officials of our party, with a long list of accomplishments centered on protecting taxpayers, creating jobs and protecting the rural character of neighborhoods,” he said. “I have been speaking to members of Brookhaven’s executive committees as well as prospective candidates and have had conference calls with ward leaders and the Independence and Conservative parties to do due diligence in a selection. I am very encouraged that Ed Romaine has thrown his hat in the ring.” Beedenbender, 32, who lives in Centereach, has worked in government for eight years. He interned in Congressman Tim Bishop’s office in 2004 while attending graduate school, then worked as an aide for then-county executive Steve Levy. In 2007, he won his first election as Suffolk County legislator, representing District 4; also supported by the Working Family and Independence lines, he lost his re-election bid by 243 votes to Legis. Tom Moratore in 2009 and began serving as Lesko’s chief of staff in January 2010.

Romaine, 65, an elected official from Center Moriches for 27 years, is currently serving his fourth consecutive term as a county legislator for District 1 with a county office in Riverhead. He was re-elected last fall with nearly 80 percent of the vote. He also served as a county legislator in the late 1980s and 16 years as Suffolk County clerk before returning to the county legislature in January 2006.

Romaine lost the county executive bid in 2004 to Steve Levy. He’s won numerous information technology awards when he served as county clerk.