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Long IslandSuffolk

Election 2009: Challenger sets sights on Huntington supervisor's job

Bill Dowler is running again for the Huntington Town Board, but there is a change in his election strategy this time around. Instead of vying for one of the four town council seats as he did twice before, he has now set his sights on being the supervisor.

Dowler said as supervisor, unlike a town board member, he would have a commanding voice and a "bully pulpit" to use to speak out to residents.

"I can do a lot for Huntington," said Dowler, 42, the Republican candidate. "With my background as a CPA I have the ability to reduce taxes; I can also restore integrity and I would implement term limits."

But incumbent Democrat Frank Petrone, 64, who also holds the Independence and Working Family endorsements, is running for his fifth term. He says the board has integrity and touts his fiscal management and quality of life initiatives over the past 16 years as an example of his stability and leadership.

"I want to keep the town's Triple A rating, no tax increases as I've done for next year and to continue to cut spending," Petrone said.

Dowler, of Dix Hills, said the current board votes in "lockstep" and operates in a stealth manner.

He questioned how is it possible to reduce the budget by $10.5 million, as proposed in the 2010 budget, and still provide the same quality of services.

"If it's possible, why didn't we do it last year and the year before or in perpetuity?" Dowler asked.

Petrone said he will continue to focus on revitalizing Huntington Station, creating more affordable housing, moving the town in a "green" direction, acquiring more open space and improving transportation concerns, especially the town's HART bus system.

"I want to take a progressive approach in my next term," Petrone said. "I have the experience and proven track record that has helped make Huntington one of the top towns on Long Island."

Still, Huntington's more than 200,000 residents have another option when they go to vote.

Melville resident Peter Nichols, 45, the Conservative candidate who enjoys quoting literary notables such as Mark Twain, is making his first run for the town board.

"I believe that the best government is not only limited in its scope, but clear in its purpose," said Nichols, who twice ran unsuccessfully for the Half Hollow Hills school board. "The purpose is to protect the individual rights of the forgotten man and the taxpayer, who aren't connected like the privileged or those who have access to those in power."

Nichols said he works as the director of facilities management for the nonprofit FEGS Health and Human Services in New York City.

He advocates for term limits, limited growth of government and councilmanic districts.

Both Dowler and Petrone agreed the residents should decide whether council districts should be brought to Huntington.

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