Democratic candidate starts highway campaign in earnest

Lori Baldassare, Democratic candidate for Town of Brookhaven

Lori Baldassare, Democratic candidate for Town of Brookhaven Highway Superintendent, at Town of Brookhaven Democratic Headquarters. (July 22, 2013) (Credit: James Escher)

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A former official in the Brookhaven Highway Department has formally announced that she is running for the agency's top post this fall.

Lori Baldassare, a Democrat and government liaison for the Suffolk County Department of Public Works, said Monday she will challenge Republican Highway Superintendent Daniel Losquadro. She will run on the Democrat and Working Families lines in the November general election. Baldassare was the town's chief deputy highway superintendent until January, when she was fired by acting superintendent Michael Murphy. He resigned after he and other town officials were criticized for their response to the February blizzard, which dumped as much as 30 inches of snow and left many residents homebound for days.

Losquadro, 40, a former state assemblyman from Shoreham, won a March special election to run the department. He is seeking a full four-term; the job pays $98,534 annually.

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Baldassare, 54, of Mount Sinai, said her experience in town government -- she was acting supervisor for three months in 2009, following the resignation of Supervisor Brian X. Foley -- make her a strong candidate.

"I worked there through hurricanes and the blizzard of 2010," she said Tuesday in an interview. "I certainly know what needs to be in place to manage a snowstorm."

The highway superintendent oversees a department with an annual budget of about $100 million and more than 200 workers who repair and plow 2,100 miles of roads.

Following the February storm, Baldassare said the department was unprepared and lacked leaders with experience fighting major storms.

In an interview Tuesday, Losquadro said Baldassare's criticisms ring hollow because she had been a top highway department manager. "Everything that was here [during the snowstorm] . . . was instituted during the time that she was here," he said.

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