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Steve Bellone announces new staff moves to aid virus battle

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has announced new

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has announced new staff assignments in an "all hands on deck" effort to confront the COVID-19 pandemic. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has announced new staff assignments in an "all hands on deck" effort to battle the COVID-19 outbreak.

Bellone has moved around 10 staffers, installing a new chief of staff, chief deputy county executive and county attorney. 

Bellone said the appointments are part of an “all hands on deck” effort to help the county come out of the crisis “stronger and more resilient.”

“These outstanding public servants will shift to roles that will enable the county to have the most effective response possible,” Bellone said in a statement.

Bellone said the appointees will serve on the county’s recovery task force, led by Deputy County Executive Jon Kaiman. Bellone said the moves will save taxpayers a net $61,000 because some are filling vacancies at lower pay than predecessors.

The appointees include:

  • Dennis Cohen will serve as county attorney, pending confirmation by the county Legislature. Cohen, a longtime friend of Bellone's, served most recently as chief deputy county executive and worked previously as county attorney. He is filling the vacancy left by Dennis Brown, who recently became director of the county’s real tax property services agency.
  • Lisa Black, most recently chief of staff, replaces Cohen as chief deputy county executive.
  • Amy Keyes replaces Black as chief of staff. Keyes most recently was assistant deputy county executive for intergovernmental affairs.
  • Vanessa Baird-Streeter as deputy county executive for community recovery. She served most recently as assistant deputy county executive for special projects.
  • Nicole Amendola as director of intergovernmental affairs after serving as an intergovernmental relations liaison.
  • Darnell Tyson, previously the acting public works commissioner, will serve as that department’s chief deputy commissioner.
  • Philip Berdolt will be deputy commissioner of public works, a role he previously held. Berdolt served most recently as parks commissioner. Bellone attempted last year to appoint Berdolt as public works commissioner, but the nomination failed to get legislative approval.
  • Jason Smagin replaces Berdolt and act as parks commissioner after serving as director of real estate.
  • Steve Randazzo, deputy director for performance management, will serve as assistant deputy county executive.
  • Olga El Sehamy, who was part-time deputy director of the youth bureau, will be director of human services.

Separately, the county Legislature appointed Amy Ellis as legislative clerk last week. Ellis replaces Jason Richberg, who was elected as a county legislator in a March special election. Ellis had served recently as deputy clerk to the Legislature.

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