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Suffolk County Democrats announce new legislative leaders

Democrats want Suffolk County Legis. Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue)

Democrats want Suffolk County Legis. Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue) as their new legislative presiding officer. Credit: James Carbone

Suffolk County Democrats have settled on a new leadership team for the County Legislature after the recent announcement by Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Copiague) that he will step down next month.

The Democratic caucus, which will have a 10-8 advantage in January, has nominated Deputy Presiding Officer Robert Calarco (D-Patchogue) as presiding officer and Majority Leader Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) as his deputy, officials said. 

Republican Minority Leader Tom Cilmi said his caucus had not yet made a decision on a slate of candidates.

Legislators will vote on the positions at a Jan. 2 organizational meeting.

Calarco and Hahn said if they are selected, they will reach across the aisle and focus on water quality, the environment and the opioid epidemic.

Also, William Spencer (D-Centerport) was chosen as majority leader after a Dec. 16 vote by the Democratic caucus.

Gregory is leaving the legislature to join the Babylon Town Board, replacing Jackie Gordon, a Democrat who is running for Congress in the 2nd District.

Jason Richberg is a potential candidate for Gregory’s legislative seat. But Richberg, a Democrat and Gregory's former chief legislative aide, said “nothing is concrete” and that he is focused on his reappointment as legislative clerk at the organizational meeting.

Republicans will begin the candidate screening process in January, party chairman Jesse Garcia said.

Legislators also are expected to name a new director of the nonpartisan Budget Review Office on Jan. 2. Former director Robert Lipp retired in September.

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