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Long IslandSuffolk

Robert Stricoff seeks Suffolk IDA post

Robert Stricoff, Babylon's top economic development aide, was

Robert Stricoff, Babylon's top economic development aide, was named as the $155,000-a-year executive director of Suffolk's Industrial Development Agency, without screenings of any other candidates.

Babylon's economic development chief Robert Stricoff has applied to become executive director of the Suffolk Industrial Development Agency.

IDA board chairwoman Joanne Minieri expressed confidence Stricoff will get the $155,000-a-year post.

Stricoff, chief executive of the Babylon Town IDA for nearly 15 years, called Minieri Wednesday seeking the job. He had said in March he had no interest in the post, and that he planned to remain in his $125,00-a-year town job and in his post as Babylon Democratic chairman.

While a half-dozen others have applied for the county IDA job, Minieri said, "there's no question he [Stricoff] is the most qualified, committed and experienced professional for this position."

Backers say Stricoff at the Babylon IDA has closed 127 economic development deals that created or retained a total of 10,755 jobs and sparked $882.5 million in new investment.

Justin Meyers, spokesman for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, said, "We cannot imagine a better fit and if the IDA votes to appoint Mr. Stricoff, we would certainly support their decision."

Stricoff, 44, of Oak Beach, said he did not consider the job at first because the opening came while he was heavily involved in a number of pending deals in Babylon.

"When the dust settled, I realized the town IDA was doing well and . . . county economic development had to move forward," Stricoff said. "This was a chance to move to bigger, broader issues and have a greater reach in assisting the county executive."

Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Association, the region's largest business group, said Stricoff "knows the county, he knows the tools to use and understands the challenges facing local business. He won't need any on-the-job training -- the transition will be seamless."

Stricoff said he has told Richard Schaffer, Suffolk Democratic chairman, he will step down as town Democratic leader and the county party's vice chairman if he gets the county IDA job. County law bans department heads from serving as party leaders, but the restriction does not apply to the IDA post.

Several Republican county legislators have urged that the IDA post be kept free of politics.

Stricoff said he has recommended Peter Casserle, a former Amityville Village trustee and Babylon's former planning commissioner, to become Babylon Democratic chairman. Schaffer, also Babylon's town supervisor, said there's been no decision on filling the town IDA post.

Stricoff said that while he would relinquish his formal political roles, he would informally help Bellone's re-election campaign next year.

"There is no ethics law or statute that says I can't be the county executive friend or advise him on the campaign," Stricoff said.

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