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Long IslandColumnistsJoye Brown

Joye Brown: Islip needs a town supervisor, and soon

Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci, shown in Sayville

Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci, shown in Sayville on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, will vacate his post in January when he moves to the State Senate. Photo Credit: Ed Betz

The last thing Islip residents need is even more time without a voting town supervisor, which is why the town board should move swiftly to ensure the post is filled with an appointee before the November election.

Come January, when current Supervisor Tom Croci, a Republican, moves to the State Senate, the post will be vacant.

Yes, Deputy Supervisor Eric Hofmeister handled administrative duties for almost a year after Croci left in 2013 to serve with the Navy in Afghanistan, although the deputy had no vote on the town board.

Hofmeister, a Republican, was Croci's choice as a temporary replacement, which was fine because Croci was the voters' choice for the post.

But that changes in January, when Croci, who was back in Islip a few months before deciding to seek a Senate seat, goes to Albany. That departure will sever the deputy's tie, through Croci, to Islip voters.

What happens then?

Islip could keep Hofmeister as a nonvoting supervisor until November, when voters select a new supervisor.

But that's not a good idea.

For one, leaving the supervisor's post open for so long calls into question whether the job has any significance at all.

It also leaves residents one voice short in town matters, which is no small thing because Islip is facing challenges from budgets to toxic waste cleanup within its borders.

Yet, the town board -- which has three members interested in seeking the supervisor's post -- is not likely to appoint Croci's replacement until early next year.

Why?

Politics, of course.

Croci's appointed successor would serve out the balance of Croci's term -- which, come November's election, would convey the benefit of incumbency.

The town GOP has started probing the issues and candidates that likely would resonate with voters.

Once that's done, according to party leader Frank Tantone, the GOP will announce its candidate for town supervisor -- who then, in theory, could be appointed supervisor by the town board months before the election.

But there's a twist.

Potential Republican supervisor candidates include Islip town board members John C. Cochrane Jr., Trish Bergin Weichbrodt and Steve Flotteron.

A council member appointed to the supervisor post would give up his or her board seat, with no guarantee of success in the general election.

Should the GOP decide to go with one of its other possible candidates -- among them Suffolk County Treasurer Angie Carpenter and Suffolk County Legis. Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore) -- the board could appoint one of their own anyway, though that's considered unlikely.

Tantone said Wednesday he is aggressively vetting candidates now rather than, as he said was usual, in March. Then it will be up to board to decide whether to appoint the party's candidate.

That could come as early as February, Tantone said.

But politics and process likely mean less to Islip residents at this point than having a supervisor and five voting members on the town council.

And that should come as quickly as possible.

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