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Political activist to challenge incumbent for Brookhaven town supervisor

Will Ferraro, 35, of Selden is running on

Will Ferraro, 35, of Selden is running on the Democratic ticket for Brookhaven Town supervisor. Credit: Ferraro campaign/Ashley Hunt-Martorano

A Selden political activist has been chosen by Brookhaven Democrats to try to unseat incumbent Republican Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine in elections this fall.

Will Ferraro, 35, a senior contracts manager for New York City, said he would campaign on a platform of fixing what he called the town's broken recycling system, repairing town roads and addressing issues at the Brookhaven landfill. This is his first run for elected office.

Brookhaven, like other municipalities, abandoned its single-stream recycling program last year as prices for recyclables plummeted. The town has been cited by state environmental officials for air quality violations at the landfill stemming from odor complaints at the facility that were lodged in December.

“This is a campaign for working-class and working-poor people,” Ferraro said in an interview. "The main reason I’m running is we have a town government that isn’t working for people anymore.”

Romaine, 72, of Center Moriches, is seeking a fourth full term after initially winning a special election in 2012 following the resignation of former Supervisor Mark Lesko, a Democrat.

Romaine said he has never met Ferraro. If re-elected, Romaine said, he would seek to complete efforts involving recycling, roads, environmental protection, flood prevention and the landfill, which is slated to close in 2024.

“People in Brookhaven have been very kind to me, and it’s been a pleasure to represent them,” Romaine said in an interview. “In government it takes a long time to get things accomplished, and I don’t want to leave before I get everything done, if they give me the opportunity.”

Romaine and Ferraro will compete for a four-year term after Brookhaven residents voted last year to double the length of terms for the supervisor, town board members and the highway superintendent.

Ferraro, who grew up in Port Jefferson Station, holds a bachelor's degree in government and politics from St. John's University and a master's degree in public policy from Stony Brook University. He said he manages contract bids for the city Administration for Children's Services.

Ferraro, who said he expects to raise at least $150,000 for his campaign, is a co-founder of the Brookhaven Action Network, a political advocacy group. He said he has stepped away from managing the group while he runs for supervisor.

Brookhaven Democratic chairwoman Lillian Clayman said the party nominated Ferraro because he has “an enormous amount of energy.”

"The town has become complacent, stale, and that’s one of the reasons why the landfill hasn’t been solved," she said. "He brings that kind of energy, a vision of progress that I think we can count on.”

Ferraro said if elected he would restore curbside pickup of recyclable glass at least once a month and develop a "robust" educational campaign to help residents recycle better. “People are throwing recyclables into the trash because the town’s recycling plan is incoherent,” Ferraro said.

The town discontinued curbside glass collections last year, saying there was no market for glass at the time.

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