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Contenders clash in battleground Suffolk districts
Contenders have begun clashing in two open Suffolk legislative districts on the South Shore that now are held by Democrats.
In the eighth district, Democrat Bill Lindsay Jr., son of the late Presiding Officer William Lindsay, has called on his Republican opponent Antony Musumeci, an Islip planning board member, to return $11,550 in donations from developers and construction companies, some of whom have appeared before the board.
“Whether the donations influenced his votes or not, the appearance of impropriety is enough to make it a conflict of interest,” Lindsay said.
Chris DeLuca, Musumeci’s campaign manager, countered that Lindsay should return contributions he has received from unions that back developments including Serota Properties’ Islip Pines project, a 136-acre mixed-use development along Sunrise Highway in Holbrook.
“This seems desperate to me as well as hypocritical,” said Musumeci. “His campaign accepted $50,000 from unions pushing these kinds of development projects as hard as they can.”
Lindsay mailings also have attacked Musumeci for “doing nothing to stop” the controversial project.
“Frankly I’m a little surprised by how naive he is about the planning process,” said Musumeci, who says he has the backing of local civic leaders.
Musumeci said the developer was slated to update the board with a new traffic study in July but failed to present the new data. He said it would violate the town ethics code to take a stand before a vote, but added, “For someone running for office to be this misinformed has to make you wonder how qualified he is for the position.”
In the 14th district race between GOP candidate Kevin McCaffrey and Democrat Tom Dolan, Suffolk Democratic chairman Richard Schaffer blasted McCaffrey, Lindenhurst deputy mayor, for missing nearly 30 percent of village board meetings between 2007 and 2011, including two key budget votes.
Schaffer also attacked McCaffrey, a Teamsters local official, for making a total of more than $800,000 for managing the union pension while cutting members’ benefits.
McCaffrey countered that Schaffer in the past has endorsed him for village office and he is “cherry picking” attendance records. He said he missed less than 15 percent of meetings since he was first elected in 1990, and noted that he also sits on other village committees.
McCaffrey, president of Teamsters Local 707, said his board absences were the result of his work over several years negotiating national union contracts. He said he would restrict the schedule if elected as a county lawmaker.
“Just because I missed a budget vote does not mean that I did not have input into preparing the budget,” McCaffrey said. “We balance the budget every year — something Suffolk, has forgotten to do for a long time.”
McCaffrey also called Democratic opponent Frank Dolan “inexperienced” and noted he rarely appears in public without a more veteran Democrat accompanying him. “In my career I’ve attended 400 more meetings that he has,” McCaffrey said.
McCaffrey also said Schaffer’s pension numbers are misleading, and that he only made $100,000 a year managing the pension. He said benefit cuts were the result of the Wall Street meltdown, not any mismanagement, and noted his union members re-elected him unanimously last year.
“I did not turn into an evil ogre overnight,” McCaffrey said, “But I guess they think I’m a different person because I had the audacity to run for higher office.”