Four years ago, the editorial board chided Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone for coasting on past achievements. After 16 years, he seemed at times distracted and lacking energy. What a difference four years can make.
Petrone, 68, a Democrat from Commack running for a sixth term, is coming off what might be the best sustained performance of his long tenure.
His opponent is Eugene Cook, 51, of Greenlawn, an Independence Party member also running on the Republican line. Cook, who owns a construction company, says the town operates inefficiently. He wants term limits for the supervisor and town board, and says Petrone is out of touch with constituents. Cook's two years on the town board have given him a taste of governing but not enough experience to manage the town.
Petrone seems to have his finger on the pulse of what's good for Huntington; sometimes it just takes a while to get there. Petrone never wavered in his support for building more housing near Huntington's LIRR station or in his contention the Route 110 corridor in the station area needed to be redeveloped. Both are now underway. When the Inter-Media Art Center closed in downtown Huntington, Petrone said he'd get it reopened. The Paramount is now a magnet for visitors.
Petrone is fighting a settlement offer on the overassessment of the Northport power plant, calling the offer unfair to taxpayers and asking for an extension of the deadline for accepting it.
The campaign lately has devolved into a barrage of Democratic criticism of a remark Cook made to a tea party group in 2012. In response to a suggestion Cook take a camera to town hall to document its condition, he said, "It would be a whole lot easier to carry a gun." The remark reflects badly on Cook's temperament, but Democrats are wrong to try to turn it into a signature issue.
Petrone says he wants to continue to shepherd the redevelopment of Huntington Station. It's time to move that forward -- quickly.
Newsday endorses Petrone.