Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone Wednesday night accepted the Democrat Party nomination for a second term, saying his administration has accomplished a lot, "but there is still so much more to do."
Bellone, appearing before 200 party activists at the IBEW headquarters in Hauppauge, said when Democrats took over they "inherited a financial mess," and a county that had become a "national spotlight for intolerance," for its immigration policies.
"We have started to clean up the mess, we have changed the rhetoric and then we began to change the policies," he said. The county has reduced its deficit, got the state to back construction of a $112 million jail and made clean water the No. 1 priority, Bellone said. "We are fighting for the middle class across this county so every family can get a fair shake," he said.
In introducing Bellone, Suffolk Democratic chairman Richard Schaffer said, "Without question, we have the best county executive and best candidate in Steve Bellone. The other guys don't even have a candidate yet."
Republicans earlier in the day interviewed three potential contenders: former North Hempstead town board member James O'Connor, former Smithtown attorney John Zollo and former Suffolk police homicide detective sergeant Robert Doyle.
Later, however, Schaffer told committee members not to take the campaign lightly, warning Republicans may look to intentionally depress turnout. "This is still a Republican county," he said. "We have to work three times as hard to get the vote out. But we know how to do it."
At their convention, the county Democratic committee also put forward four new candidates and 11 incumbents to run for the county legislature, leaving nominations for three seats and county treasurer temporarily unfilled.
In seats Democratic officials have declared key battlegrounds, the convention named Bellone criminal justice aide Tim Sini, 34, of Babylon, to challenge freshman Legis. Kevin McCaffrey, the GOP caucus leader. Sini, an assistant deputy county executive and former federal prosecutor, has already knocked on 3,000 doors working in off-hours as an unpaid aide to Schaffer, a Babylon supervisor. McCaffrey, 61, a Teamster union leader and longtime former Lindenhurst deputy mayor, two years ago won a major upset in the 14th District seat where Bellone lives.
The party also named Southampton Town board member Bridget Fleming, 55, of Nayak, a former Manhattan prosecutor, to run for the 2nd District seat to be vacated by term-limited Legis. Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) at year's end. Republicans are running financial consultant Amos Goodman, the first openly gay Republican running for a county elected office in either Nassau or Suffolk.
Democrats also named challengers Jonathan Rockfeld of Centereach in the 4th District to take on Legis. Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma), and former Islip Democratic chairman Joseph Hagelmann of Ronkonkoma in the 10th District to oppose Legis. Tom Cilmi of Bay Shore.
The party last night did not nominate challengers against GOP legislators Tom Barraga in the 11th District, just elected Leslie Kennedy in the 12th District or freshman Rob Trotta in the 13th District.
The party also put off naming any contender for county treasurer, a job that now carries a truncated two-year term. However, the job could go out of existence by year's end if the county legislature decided to hold a new referendum to let voters decide whether to move up a merger of the treasurer with the comptroller office to year's end.
The convention, however, approved a resolution authorizing Schaffer to name candidates for those races later.
Democrats also renominated the following incumbents for county legislature: 1st L.D. -- Alfred Krupski of Southold; 3rd District -- Kate Browning, an Independence Party member of Shirley; 5th L.D. -- Kara Hahn of Setauket; 6th L.D. -- Sarah Anker of Mt. Sinai; 7th L.D. -- Rob Calarco of Patchogue; 8th L.D. -- William Lindsay III of Oakdale; 9th L.D. -- Monica Martinez of Brentwood; 15th L.D. DuWayne Gregory of Amityville; 16th L.D. -- Steve Stern of Dix Hills; 17th L.D. Louis D'Amaro of North Babylon, and 18th L.D. -- Dr. William Spencer of Centerport.
In the family court, the party renominated two incumbent Democratic judges, Marlene Budd of Setauket and Martha Luft of Riverhead.
Following the county convention, Brookhaven Democrats had a nominating meeting where they renominated town board members Connie Kepert in the 4th District and Valerie Cartright in the 1st District. They also named Christian DeGeorge of Lake Grove to run in the 3rd District and Alexander Piccirillo of Holtsville to run in the 5th District. They also nominated Jason Kosamanys of Port Jefferson Station as highway superintendent candidate.
The town party left unfilled nominations for town supervisor, the 2nd and 6th district town board seats and two district court judgeships.
Babylon Democrats meanwhile renominated town board members Jackie Gordon for a third term and Tom Donnelly for a second term.