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Suffolk IDA postpones election of chairman, other officers

Theresa Ward, commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning on Sept. 14, 2016. / Barry Sloan

The Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency, in an unusual move yesterday, tabled the election of officers, including chairman of its board of directors.

The agency, which provides tax breaks to expanding businesses, had been widely expected to name Theresa Ward. She is commissioner of economic development and planning in the administration of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

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The Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency, in an unusual move yesterday, tabled the election of officers, including chairman of its board of directors.

The agency, which provides tax breaks to expanding businesses, had been widely expected to name Theresa Ward. She is commissioner of economic development and planning in the administration of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

Commissioners have frequently, but not always, led the seven-member IDA board.

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After the eight-minute IDA meeting, board members said the election was postponed until the Feb. 23 meeting to give time for the chairman candidates to garner support.

One board member, who requested anonymity, said the goal was to settle on one candidate who could win unanimously.

The chairman’s seat has been vacant since late last year after Joanne Minieri left the post of economic development commissioner to join RXR Realty.

Ward, Minieri’s top aide, was tapped to be commissioner in December and was appointed to the IDA board at the same time by the county legislature.

Acting IDA chairman Grant Hendricks said in an interview that “there is no contention” on the board. He also said that Bellone played no role in the election delay and has not stated a preference as to who should be chairman.

Last night, Ward said she should be elected because as economic development commissioner she works with the IDA, is familiar with other county programs and works closely with expanding businesses. “I have my finger on the pulse,” she said.

Before joining Suffolk’s government, Ward spent 25 years working in real estate for companies and New York City government.

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Another candidate, IDA treasurer Peter Zarcone Jr., said he would bring “strong leadership” to the office of IDA chairman and 11 years of board service. He is also an officer of Local 66 of the General Building and Construction Laborers union. Zarcone said, “I think I would do a good job.”