Edward Romaine's tenure as Brookhaven supervisor got off to a rocky start. After winning a special election last November to replace Mark Lesko, he plunged into the town's post-Sandy recovery. Then the February blizzard hit. It crippled Suffolk, but Brookhaven took longer to recover than anyone. Romaine's snow response is the central campaign issue for his opponent, Vivian Viloria-Fisher.
Romaine, 66, a Republican from Center Moriches, was vacationing in Jamaica but says he was in touch with officials back home; Viloria-Fisher says he should not have left with the storm about to hit. Romaine was disappointed with the highway department, but says he has no control over its superintendent, an elected official. Viloria-Fisher, 65, a Democrat and former county legislator from Setauket, says a supervisor is responsible for emergency preparedness and faults Romaine for too narrowly defining his job. And she is right to advocate for abolishing the highway superintendent as an elected position and creating a department of public works under supervisor and town board control, a stance to which Romaine will not commit.
To his credit, Romaine has addressed problems exposed by the blizzard. He has worked with the new elected highway superintendent -- begging the question of why that kind of cooperation was not possible earlier -- to purchase heavy equipment and develop a computerized system to track plowing.
Romaine has had unqualified successes. He's calmed partisan infighting on a famously fractious town board still split by party allegiance. Lesko failed to get approval for his plan to protect the Carmans River, but Romaine crafted a different approach endorsed by environmentalists and developers and passed unanimously by the board. He has reduced town debt, and says the town is about to convert to single-stream recycling -- reducing solid waste, saving money and extending the life of the town landfill.
Romaine says you learn more from failure than success. We'll take him at his word.
Newsday endorses Romaine.