Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, who often stresses the need for long-term vision, said Wednesday his second term will let him start implementing his blueprint for rebuilding Suffolk's downtowns and creating new rapid bus lanes to ease transit, and sewer lines to protect water resources.
"The first term was all about getting the county out of crisis," Bellone said. "The second term is all about creating a better future, and economic development is crucial for that."
Bellone, a Democrat, made his comments a day after scoring a 25,000-vote victory Tuesday over Republican James O'Connor.
Sounding conciliatory on election night, Bellone called on the six-member Republican legislative caucus to "work together" with Democrats to create "a bright future for all of us in this county. It's time for us to come together to do the peoples' business."
Bellone said that when he arrived at the office Wednesday morning, he found a congratulatory bag from a confectionary store in Babylon with peanut clusters and chocolate-covered Oreos. He also received calls from Sen. Chuck Schumer and state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. Bellone reached out to newly elected Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas to congratulate her on her victory.
Bellone said he met with Joanne Minieri, his top economic-development aide, to outline how to proceed with plans for projects already on the drawing boards. Bellone said he hopes to see progress in the first half of 2016 on installing sewer lines from the Ronkonkoma Hub to the Southwest Sewer District.
Bellone said he expects to use planning money to develop details of new rapid bus transit on Nicolls Road to tie research centers with downtowns and reduce reliance on cars. He also wants to move on proposals for a new train station at Brookhaven National Laboratory and a new terminal at MacArthur airport nearer the Ronkonkoma train station.
While many of Bellone's initiatives will take years to complete, the county executive said initial progress can motivate interest and investment.
"If things are moving, if there is new excitement and energy created in the region people will feel more optimistic, businesses will open and more young people will come back," Bellone said. "Things don't need to be fully complete; people just need to know they are happening."
But he was more circumspect on whether he might consider a sales tax increase in light of recent shortfalls. "We're not making any commitment on what we're going to do. A second term has not even begun yet," he said.
Bellone also said he was "not even thinking" of running for any other elected post, although he has $1.8 million remaining in his campaign coffers.
But he added, "You never know what is going to happen in politics."