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Suffolk County executive candidates appeal to municipal union voters

With less than 50 days until Election Day, the candidates for Suffolk County executive addressed voter concerns — from the migrant crisis, to affordable housing and sewer infrastructure at a rare forum Wednesday night.

Republican Ed Romaine and Democrat Dave Calone — appearing separately — largely agreed on many of the questions put to them by members of the Suffolk Association of Municipal Employees, which co-hosted the event with Schneps Media.

Romaine touted his record on economic development as the Brookhaven Town Supervisor and, and made measures to protect water quality while enhancing sewer infrastructure among his top priorities.

“If I'm elected county executive, I'm going to yell, scream and holler and shake that money tree,” Romaine said, noting that he supported the Biden administration’s infrastructure spending, as well as Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Environmental Bond Act. “We need that money. We need to rebuild our infrastructure.”

“We need sewers, particularly for the most densely populated areas of this county from Kings Park to Smithtown to St. James, to Sayville, to Mastic Beach — to even Southampton,” he added.

Romaine cited a number of critical issues, including bolstering child protective services in the wake of the high-profile case of eight-year-old Thomas Valva, who died due to abuse.

Calone, a businessman and entrepreneur who previously worked as a federal and state prosecutor, served for eight years as the chair of the Suffolk County Planning Commission. He said his combined experience in and outside government, makes him a unique problem-solver.

“If you want to make sure we have safety, elect someone who has been in law enforcement, who will work with law enforcement to keep our community safe,” Calone said. “If you want to make sure we have good paying jobs in an affordable place, elect someone who comes from the private sector, who for the last 15 years worked on building companies here on Long Island and all around the country.”

With legal expertise, Calone said he was particularly positioned to tackle issues, like crime, cybersecurity and affordable housing.

Both candidates said they would not support the use of county funds to build migrant shelters, and called on the federal government to revamp immigration policy to stem the tide of border crossings.

Democrat Steve Bellone, the current county executive, has held the position for the past 12 years and is ineligible to run due to term limits.

The forum was broadcasted by WRCN.

Desiree reports on the lives of military service members, veterans, and their families for WSHU as part of the American Homefront project. Born and raised in Connecticut, she now calls Long Island home.