As he seeks his second full term as supervisor, Republican Edward P. Romaine is one of Long Island's most seasoned and judicious political hands. Any challenger would have a battle unseating him.
Making an effort is longtime Brookhaven activist Douglas P. Dittko, a Democrat from Manorville. It's his third run for a seat on the town board, this time for supervisor.
Dittko, 64, says he's running because the seven-member board lacks balance, with the two Democrats feeling frustrated about advancing their causes. He served on the town planning board for almost seven years, briefly as its chairman, and he believes the Brookhaven board should be run with the same regard for fairness over politics. As the former president of the Manorville-East Moriches Civic Association and Affiliated Brookhaven Civic Organization, Dittko has been outspoken about land-use issues. He now works for the Suffolk Board of Elections.
Romaine, 68, of Center Moriches, won a special election for supervisor in November 2012 after serving as county clerk and a county legislator. He has demonstrated fiscal prudence by reducing the town's debt and beginning to sock away money to pay for closing the town landfill, which he says is just 10 years out.
At the same time, Romaine is trying to extend the landfill's life. He introduced single-stream recycling, which collected 23 percent more household paper, plastic, metal and glass in 2014 than the previous year. And the supervisor has championed an anaerobic digester in Yaphank, a facility that will turn organic waste, such as food and grass clippings, into energy and compost.
While Romaine's environmental commitment is genuine, his intransigence over the Brookhaven Rail Terminal development in Yaphank is becoming counterproductive. The supervisor should find a way to settle this long-running dispute and work with the BRT operator to bring in more freight by rail, reducing truck traffic that jams and degrades Long Island roads.
Dittko is critical of a new limit on parking at rental housing -- a measure the Brookhaven board passed earlier this month to unblock roads, especially around Stony Brook University. Landlords are packing students into boardinghouses, neighbors contend, turning streets into virtual parking lots. Dittko says the code change to restrict vehicles to the number of bedrooms plus one is unenforceable. "You've got to go after the people who own the homes," he insists. The town board's solution is at least an effort to deal with the problem. Let's give it time to work.
While it's true that Democrats are outnumbered on the town board, Romaine is an able administrator who brings members together in most cases to accomplish important goals.
Newsday endorses Romaine.