Editorial: Elect Schaffer for Babylon supervisor
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This is the first of this season's endorsements by the Newsday editorial board.
As if to prove that you can come home again, Babylon Supervisor Richard Schaffer is back at his former job and reveling in it.
The town board appointed him to the job this year to fill the vacancy left when Steve Bellone was elected Suffolk County executive. Now Schaffer is running for the one year left on Bellone's term.
As he did at the end of his 1992-2001 tour as supervisor, Schaffer, 48, of North Babylon, wears two hats: supervisor and chairman of the Suffolk County Democratic Committee. That raises the question: Can he handle the demands of both jobs, and can he avoid any conflicts?
He says juggling the two roles has not yet become a problem. As to conflicts, he won't let his county committee accept contributions from those who work for, do business with or have applications before the town.
His Republican opponent, Mark Gallo, 44, of Lindenhurst, has not made it an issue, but Schaffer needs to keep thinking about whether he can do both well.
Gallo does not really differ from Schaffer on much. He's a former immigration officer who runs a security business and has twice run, unsuccessfully, for county legislature.
Schaffer has a firm grasp on the key issues in town. One of them is Wyandanch Rising, the effort to bring economic vitality to one of the most economically challenged communities on Long Island. Bellone got it started and still keeps a close eye on it, but Schaffer has jumped right in.
Gallo says people ask him about possibly redeveloping West Babylon and Deer Park and wonder about the cost of the Wyandanch project. But Schaffer argues that, if one part of the town is hurting, it's just a matter of time before that affects the rest of the town. The vacant and dilapidated properties in Wyandanch are lowering tax revenue, and Wyandanch Rising will benefit the whole town.
Schaffer has to wrestle with day-to-day issues, such as garbage carting. But he can't let that necessary work distract him from the long-term issues, such as Wyandanch and developing a bus rapid transit system on Route 110. He should work to show further real progress on both in 2013.
Gallo says he's in this race to give the voters a choice. But the choice boils down to someone earnest and decent, but totally inexperienced in town government, and Schaffer, who knows all the intricacies, from garbage to pensions. It's hard not to like Gallo, but Newsday endorses Schaffer.