The gun violence issue has entered the increasingly negative campaign for supervisor in Huntington.
A former county legislator called for town board member and supervisor candidate Gene Cook to step down after excerpts of a 2012 quote in which he says of discussing issues at Town Hall, “I think it would be a whole lot easier to carry a gun,” were made public.
Cook, an Independence Party member who also has the nomination of the GOP and the Conservative lines, made the comments at a meeting of the Conservative Society for Action where he was discussing his first 30 days as a board member. The comment was the focus of a recent television ad put out by the campaign of town Supervisor Frank Petrone, a Democrat who has the Working Families lines.
“It was a flip, reckless, disrespectful comment to make when you are talking about Town Hall,” Jane Devine, a Democrat and former Suffolk County legislator for the 17th District, said at a news conference at Town Hall Wednesday. “That is an attitude that a person has, so it’s deep inside.”
Devine said Cook’s comments were particularly disturbing because there was gun violence at Town Hall in 1979. A gunman held nine women hostage for 4 1/2 hours.
Cook referred calls to his campaign manager Nick LaLota, who said Cook has no plans to step down.
“This is a Hail Mary attempt by a 19-year supervisor and a 16-year councilman just to cling to power,” LaLota said, referring to Petrone and town board member Mark Cuthbertson, a Democrat who also has the Working Families line. “They are trying to distract voters from the real issues by resurrecting something that happened three decades ago based on a one-line comment of a 20-minute monologue.”
Petrone could not be reached for comment, but his campaign manager Eric Rotondi said he is focused on doing the work of the government.
“Right now the supervisor is concerned about battling LIPA and protecting Huntington taxpayers,” Rotondi said.