Babylon Republicans have named Mark Gallo, an assistant Suffolk elections commissioner, as their candidate for the seat in the 11th Assembly District, where 26-year Albany veteran Robert Sweeney is retiring at year’s end.
Gallo, 46, of Lindenhurst, was named after Lindenhurst Village Administrator Shawn Cullinane decided late Monday not to seek Sweeney’s seat. Cullinane, 60, had succeeded Sweeney as village administrator shortly after he was elected to the Assembly.
Tony Pancella, Babylon GOP chairman, said the party will begin circulating petitions for Gallo immediately. The GOP had not started getting signatures for Cullinane, even though he was designated as the candidate at the county convention last month, because he had not decided to pursue the race.
Democrats have named as their candidate Kimberly Jean Pierre of Wheatley Heights, director of the Wyandanch Community Resources Center.
While Babylon Republicans last year won a major upset in the county legislature with Lindenhurst Deputy Mayor Kevin McCaffrey, Pancella said the numbers in the Assembly district are much tougher for a Republican. Republicans have a 2,000-voter edge in the legislative district, while Democrats outnumber Republicans 32,000 to 17,000 in the Assembly district.
Gallo, who earns $92,900 a year as an assistant commissioner, is a Navy veteran, a former federal immigration officer and owns a private security business. He has run three times for public office, losing to Babylon Town Supervisor Richard Schaffer in 2012 and earlier losing two races to the county legislature.
Gallo acknowledged, “It’s an uphill battle, but people still need a choice.”
— RICK BRAND
Hindu temple construction begins
Construction of a 49,000-square-foot temple for the Hindu organization Bochasanwasi Shree Akshar Purushottam-Northeast (BAPS) has begun on Deshon Drive in Melville.
A groundbreaking and a ritual that included blessing the project and the ceremonial placing of shovels into the ground was held last Sunday. About 100 persons attended the event, including BAPS members, town officials said.
The construction of the temple emerged from a complex three-way deal that allows construction of a 261-unit income-restricted senior community, a park and the house of worship on two sites in Melville.
The temple is expected to be two stories with a covered patio. There are 220 parking stalls. The property totals 5 acres.
Last October, BAPS had a ceremony laying sacred stones on the site. The stones, which were to be placed in the foundation, had been sanctified and blessed by a swami in India before being sent to Melville. Construction is expected to last 12 months.
— DEBORAH S. MORRIS