Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone will not seek a seventh term in November, but may run for another elected office in the future, he announced Thursday.
Petrone, 72, a Democrat who lives in Melville, said in an interview with Newsday that it’s time to move on, after taking the town from near bankruptcy when he started as supervisor in 1994 to its current AAA credit rating from major financial ratings agencies.
“It’s time for me to step aside, time for someone else to come in and take the town to the next level,” Petrone said. “Although I’m a little sad because I really love this job and the people I work with, but there comes a time where you have to look at your personal life situation, you have to weigh that.”
He cited the retirement of his wife, Pat, and the impending birth of a granddaughter as among the reasons to move on. He hinted that another public position was a possibility, but he stressed he is not now seeking elected office.
“I’m going to be looking for new opportunities and challenges professionally and personally — anywhere even through to elective office, depending where it would be and what it would be,” he said.
Petrone said he would like to see one of his fellow Democratic town board members — Mark Cuthbertson, Susan Berland or Tracey Edwards — take his place.
Cuthbertson said Thursday he would like to continue Petrone’s legacy but he will not be running for supervisor. Berland said in an email she was out of the country. Edwards said she was “confident that the Town of Huntington residents will elect the best candidate that will continue to move the town forward.”
Petrone first was elected supervisor in 1993 on the Republican-Conservative slate. He had previously been chief of staff for the Suffolk County Legislature and the former Huntington Town environmental director. In 2002, after cultivating a bipartisan image in the town, he changed his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat.
He was re-elected to his sixth term in 2013 in a close race with town board member Gene Cook, an Independence Party member.
Cook on Thursday said he has “nothing but respect for Petrone” and that “I would like to hear from the residents on whether they would like me to run or not and I will certainly contemplate it.”
Suffolk County Democratic chairman Rich Schaffer and Huntington Town Democratic Committee chairwoman Mary Collins both praised Petrone for his hard work, fiscal savvy and dedication to the town.
Collins said four or five people have been screened with her committee for the supervisor job, including Centerport resident Darryl St. George, who announced his candidacy earlier this year. There are two more screening dates set for April, she said.
Huntington Town Republican Committee chairwoman Toni Tepe said the vacancy was an opportunity for the GOP. “This year is a year where we might be able to turn things around, and we’re going to be putting forth some excellent candidates,” Tepe said. “I think most people in the town feel he’s been there, he’s done what he’s chosen to do, and that it’s time to move on and look to the future with new, vibrant young blood.”
Suffolk County and Huntington Town Conservative Party Committee Chair Frank Tinari said his committee has yet to screen anyone, but Petrone’s departure leaves a variety of options to fill the seat. At this point it’s wide open, Tinari said.
On Thursday, Petrone cited the town’s financial improvements, Huntington Station’s redevelopment advances, affordable housing increases, and “great strides” in environmental issues as helping him reach his decision to leave the supervisor’s office.
“I’ve given it a lot, a lot of thought,” he said. “I contemplated last time not running, and at this point I’m really comfortable with where the town is at.”