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9 candidates IDd for Lesko's supervisor job

L-R: Mark Lesko, Town of Brookhaven supervisor; Scott

L-R: Mark Lesko, Town of Brookhaven supervisor; Scott Russell, Town of Southold Supervisor; Anna Throne-Holst, Town of Southampton Supervisor and Sean Walter, Town of RIverhead supervisor on a panel at the Suffolk County Planning Summit held at SUNY Stony Brook's Wang Center. (Feb. 8, 2012) Credit: Newsday/Audrey C. Tiernan

The political carousel has begun to turn in Brookhaven as Democratic and Republican leaders have identified nine potential candidates to succeed Democratic Town Supervisor Mark Lesko, who abruptly resigned Wednesday.

Brookhaven Republican head Jesse Garcia named state assemblymen Daniel Losquadro and Dean Murray, county legislators Ed Romaine and Tom Muratore, and town council member Dan Panico.

Top Democratic candidates, according to county chairman Rich Schaffer, are Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri, town Democratic head Marc Alessi, town Councilwoman Connie Kepert, and Lesko's chief of staff Brian Beedenbender.

The potential candidates who returned calls Thursday -- Murray and LaValle did not -- said they were interested in running for the office.

Reached by phone in Maryland Thursday, Losquadro said he would "seriously consider" attempting to replace Lesko, but couldn't as the July 16 deadline to accept or decline his Assembly re-election bid had passed.

When informed state election law allows him to accept a second nomination and decline the first, he replied, "I'm humbled that my name was brought up in the mix. I haven't spoken to any county leadership. But I will speak to county leadership when I get back from vacation."

Pontieri, whose leadership has helped revive downtown Patchogue, said Schaffer asked him to run. "I've been asked to consider it. And I will strongly consider it," Pontieri said.

Alessi said his focus is on nominating a strong candidate, but acknowledged, "I've gotten a lot of calls from people asking or telling me I should run. I have a lot I have to consider."

The upcoming special election -- likely to be held on the general election day, Nov. 6 -- will determine control of the council. The remaining six members include two Democrats, one Conservative and three Republicans, one of whom -- Deputy Supervisor Kathy Walsh -- often votes with the Democrats.

Lesko officially steps down next month.

"It's time for Republicans to step forward," said Garcia, whose party controlled Brookhaven for years until Brian Foley's election in 2005.

Schaffer said voters will have to decide if they want to continue Lesko's policies, noting the four candidates he mentioned "worked closely with Mark."

Romaine, who said he hasn't heard from the GOP about running for supervisor, said it's a tempting challenge in part because his son Keith Romaine served on the town board before his death in 2009. "I have a great job which I absolutely love as a legislator," he said, adding, "Should someone approach me, I would consider it."

Lesko will become the first executive director of the Accelerate Long Island project, which aims to transform the region into a hub for technology companies.

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