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GOP returns to top in Brookhaven

Republican Edward Romaine waves to his supporters at

Republican Edward Romaine waves to his supporters at Suffolk Republican headquarters in Patchogue after defeating Brian Beedenbender for Brookhaven Town supervisor. (Nov. 6, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Legis. Edward Romaine's election as Brookhaven supervisor has thrust Republicans back into a familiar spot -- leading the Brookhaven Town Council.

But the GOP has a tortured history in town -- one that cost the party its three-decade grip on leadership -- a legacy Romaine asked voters Wednesday to forget, asking them instead to focus on his record and plans.

"I'm starting a new administration with new people. I'm not worried about ghosts from the past," he said.

The ghosts are many, and Romaine said he's prepared to overcome the lot of them.

Through the 1970s, '80s and '90s, Brookhaven grew into a Republican stronghold, with such leaders as the late town and county GOP chairman John Powell ruling with an iron fist.

The party lost traction in the heavily Republican town as a series of leaders became embroiled in a slew of corruption charges and convictions, earning the town the moniker Crookhaven.

Frustrated voters turned to the Democrats in 2005, electing Brian X. Foley town supervisor. Then he ran for State Senate and was succeeded in 2009 by Democrat Mark Lesko, who led the council until he left in September to run Accelerate Long Island.

But Romaine dismissed the past Wednesday, instead saying voters should focus on his record and future plans, outlining an agenda that includes managing the budget, stimulating economic growth, creating jobs and devising a plan to preserve the Carmans River watershed.

In the short term, he said he would address the damage done by superstorm Sandy. Restoring power and heat is "a huge issue," he said. "The storm could put a huge debit to a town already financially strapped."

Brookhaven Town GOP chairman Jesse Garcia, said Romaine, 65, of Center Moriches, is a proven reformer and tax fighter who will control spending. Romaine's resume includes long service as county clerk and as a legislator, plus unsuccessful runs for county executive and Congress.

As for who will serve Romaine's remaining year in the legislature, Richard Schaffer, Babylon supervisor and county Democratic Committee chairman, identified Southold Democratic councilman Al Krupski as a candidate. John Jay LaValle, chairman of Suffolk's Republican committee, said there are at least a half dozen candidates interested in the seat. He declined to name anyone.

The Suffolk Legislature has 60 to 90 days to fill Romaine's seat via a special election once he officially resigns his county post. That is likely to occur after the election board certifies him as supervisor, which could take up to two weeks.

Meantime, Suffolk board of elections officials will be recertifying results of another contest, for the State Assembly 3rd District. Republican incumbent Dean Murray leads Democrat Edward Hennessey by 36 votes.

The recertification process could take all month as memory cards are verified, voting machines checked for unscanned ballots and officials determine whether any absentee ballots have been challenged.

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