Suffolk County Republicans named Comptroller John Kennedy on Monday night as their county executive candidate, saying he would end Democratic incumbent Steve Bellone’s “legacy of financial disaster" and "restore fiscal sanity to our county.”
Kennedy, 62, was designated by acclamation of about 130 Republicans at the Portuguese-American Center in Farmingville. Democrats held no convention, but prepared petitions for various local offices. Committee members in both major parties can begin circulating nominating petitions Tuesday.
Kennedy, in an interview before the convention, said, “We’ve gone through seven bond down ratings, six years of financial emergencies and . . . financial reserves that are dwindling.”
At the convention later, he said, “The Republican way is the way to bring our county back and solve our fiscal problems.”
Jason Elan, Bellone’s spokesman, said: “The Republicans are nominating a financial phony who has been anything but a fiscal conservative. In fact, he’s more liberal in many ways than Ted Kennedy.”
John Kennedy, a Nesconset resident, narrowly won re-election to a second term last year, and has about $120,000 in his coffers, compared with Bellone's $2 million entering the race.
Brookhaven Supervisor Edward Romaine, who nominated Kennedy, said the comptroller has faced uphill battles before, winning four years ago with only one ballot line and $120,000 against a foe who had four lines, and outspent him by eight times. “He is undoubtedly the leader Suffolk needs now,” Romaine said.
Hours before the convention, Republican Legis. Robert Trotta of Fort Salonga, who also had announced his candidacy for county executive, said he had decided to step aside so that the GOP will have a united front against Bellone. He also attacked Bellone’s massive fundraising, which Trotta said includes “money he laundered through bloated contracts.”
Richard Schaffer, Suffolk Democratic Party chairman, said the decision to forgo a convention had nothing to do with his continuing clashes with Bellone, who is seeking a third four-year term. Because of changes in state election law, Schaffer said, “Everything is rushed, and I’d rather have committee members talking to voters than filling helium balloons.”
Despite their disagreements, Schaffer said, he supports Bellone for re-election. “His record of accomplishments is second to none with the lowest crime statistics, the most up-to-date crime fighting technology and the most innovative water protection program in the country.”
The major parties nominated the following candidates in Suffolk's legislative districts:
1st L.D.: Legis. Al Krupski (D) and Remy Bell (R); 2nd L.D.: Legis. Bridget Fleming (D) and Linda Kabot (R); 3rd L.D.: Legis. Rudolph Sunderman (R) and Daryl Edelstein (D); 4th L.D.: Legis. Tom Muratore (R) and David Bligh (D); 5th L.D.: Legis. Kara Hahn (D) and John McCormack (R); 6th L.D.: Legis. Sarah Anker (D) and Gary Pallakowsky (R); 7th L.D.: Legis. Robert Calarco (D) and Dominick Thorne (R); 8th L.D.: Legis. William Lindsay III (D) and Anthony Piccirillo (R); 9th L.D.: Samuel Gonzalez (D) and Maria Vidal (R); 10th L.D.: Legis. Tom Cilmi (R) and Joseph Hegelman (D); 11th L.D.: Legis. Steve Flotteron (R) and Joseph McDermott (D); 12th L.D.: Legis. Leslie Kennedy (R) and Margot Rosenthal (D); 13th L.D.: Legis. Robert Trotta (R) and Janet Singer (D); 14th L.D.: Legis. Kervin McCaffrey (R) and Bridget Middleton (D); 15th L.D.: Legis. Tom, Donnelly (D) and Chris Connors (R); 16th L.D.: Legis. Susan Berland (D) and Hector Gavilla (R); 17th L.D.: Legis. DuWayne Gregory (D) and no Republican named yet; and 18th L.D.: Garret Chelius (R) Legis. William Spencer (D).
Correction: A previous version of the candidates' list accompanying this story misidentified the Democratic candidate in the 7th legislative district. The candidate is Legis. Robert Calarco.