Town of Islip Supervisor Tom Croci is not the perfect candidate for State Senate, but he's a pretty good one.
The biggest knock on the Republican going to Albany is that he will have served only half of his four-year term as supervisor at a time when the town is embroiled in an illegal waste-dumping scandal.
Croci, 42, of Sayville, returned this summer from a year of active duty in the Navy Reserve in Afghanistan, and he will still have a year left in the supervisor's job when the Senate term begins. Refusing military service was not an option, but it was his choice whether to complete his term as supervisor or to seek the Senate seat Lee Zeldin is vacating to run for Congress.
State Senate seats don't come open very often, and if Croci wants to continue to build a career in public service, he couldn't really pass up the offer when Republican leaders approached. They were looking for an edge after forcing out their first nominee, Islip Councilman Anthony Senft, fearing Senft's ties to the town's dumping scandal would doom his bid.
What recommends Croci is his moderate and knowledgeable approach to the issues. On Common Core, Croci sees weaknesses in the implementation that need to be addressed, and suggests waivers for students with learning problems and those who don't speak English. That makes sense. On developing the local economy and controlling taxes, Croci wants to find ways to compensate for the high cost of utilities and transportation for companies.
Running against Croci for the Democrats is Adrienne Esposito, a longtime activist who heads Citizens Campaign for the Environment.
Esposito, 53, of Patchogue, knows her stuff when it comes to water and air and land, and she's done great work in those areas. She led the fight to stop the Broadwater natural gas depot in Long Island Sound and is passionate about protecting the Long Island aquifer.
But outside of this expertise, her knowledge is thinner and her positions can come off as pandering. Her demand to stop Common Core standards entirely, go back to old school curricula, then switch again at some later date, makes no sense. Her assertion that the takeover of most Long Island Power Authority duties by PSEG has caused delivery rates to skyrocket isn't accurate. Long Island would be better served by her effective advocacy in her current role.
Croci has the personality of a natural consensus builder and he's shown in his fights with Islip GOP leaders that he won't buckle to dishonorable demands from the powerful even when they're his allies.
Newsday endorses Croci.