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Theresa Ward confirmed as Suffolk development commissioner

Theresa Ward is seen in a Sept. 14,

Theresa Ward is seen in a Sept. 14, 2016 file photo. Credit: Barry Sloan

The Suffolk Legislature on Tuesday confirmed Theresa Ward as the county’s new $173,000-a-year commissioner of economic development and planning and appointed her as a board member of the Suffolk Industrial Development Agency.

She replaces Joanne Minieri, who also held the title of deputy county executive and made $178,000 a year in those posts. Minieri announced her resignation in July and last month became executive vice president of RXR Realty.

Under questioning by lawmakers, Ward said the county’s “strength is its diversity” with its mix of universities and hospitals and East End farmland, parks and beaches.

A Southold resident for the past decade, Ward said she worked in the past as an economic development aide to former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

Ward, who joined Suffolk County in December, 2015 as a $158,922 a year chief deputy to Minieri, will report to Deputy County Executive Dennis Cohen.

Ward said that although she will fill the IDA vacancy left by Minieri, she could not say whether she would become board chair, a position Minieri also held. That will be determined by a vote of the unpaid seven-member board, which has the power to give tax breaks to keep, expand or bring in new businesses to the county.

Also Tuesday, county lawmakers approved $500,000 to build a new culvert to help restore Canaan Lake in Patchogue. Sponsor Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue) said the culvert will allow the county to drain the lake in off season, remove invasive species that clog the waterway and clean up the lake.

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