An invitation to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone to speak to the New York State Building Trades Council in Florida last week was withdrawn to keep the appearance from being viewed as a political issue in an election year.
Matty Aracich, president of the Building Trades and Construction Council of Nassau and Suffolk, said both Bellone and Nassau County Executive Laura Curran were originally invited last fall to speak to the group at its annual meeting in Hollywood, Florida Curran, who is not up for re-election this year, later bowed out because she is preparing her state of the county message, Aracich said.
The council decision came after Suffolk’s Republican Comptroller John M. Kennedy Jr. late last month announced his candidacy to run against Bellone in November.
“We wanted to make sure it was a nonpolitical event,” said Aracich, adding the invitation was rescinded to “dispel all fears” that it might be considered any other way. “That was never the intention."
Kennedy’s late father was a longtime Long Island building trades council head. The council’s annual golf outing to raise money for its political action committee is named after him. Aracich, however, said Kennedy’s late father’s former role had nothing to do with the decision.
“This is a political year,” said Mario Mattera, business agent of Plumbers Local 200, which has 1,100 members. “If the county executive attends … then I feel the comptroller should also have been invited.“ But, he added, “It’s best that both not attend.”
Bellone was scheduled to take part Saturday take part in a labor breakfast in Albany that is part of the annual SOMOS Conference, centered on the needs of New York’s Latino population.