Steve Bellone got what he wanted Tuesday night. Against his toughest opponent yet, he put up big numbers that will grab statewide attention in winning a third term as Suffolk County executive. He spent heavily to defeat county Comptroller John Kennedy, but Bellone’s performance must be judged in dual context: Republican President Donald Trump carried Suffolk in 2016, and voter fatigue often sets in when candidates seek third terms.
Significant challenges await and we encourage Bellone to be stalwart in meeting them. County finances must remain a focus; while improving, they are still not as strong as they should be. He should continue his war on nitrogen in our waters, and keep pushing the kind of smart development that will encourage skilled young people to remain on Long Island or relocate here. That includes downtown revitalizations, new sewers and moving the Yaphank train station to Brookhaven National Lab. That also means Bellone should push ahead with plans for a convention center at the Ronkonkoma Hub; it’s a good idea, but he needs to be more open about the process and involve the entire community in the planning. And it’s essential that he improve the quality of his legal team. That will be needed to navigate the wrongful conviction lawsuits certain to be filed in the years ahead.
One final reminder to the ambitious Bellone: Your term is for four years.
Voters in Hempstead turned back the clock in returning the town to complete Republican control. Tax Receiver Don Clavin declared victory as the new supervisor thanks largely to his attacks on Democratic Nassau County Executive Laura Curran’s reassessment plan, not really a town issue but one that apparently resonated with anxious voters. First-term incumbent Laura Gillen had made headway on her anti-corruption platform; it will be Clavin’s task to continue in that vein and not let Hempstead sink back into its old ways of patronage and nepotism.
Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas cruised to victory in her first reelection bid. She should continue her good work on getting opioid overdose victims into treatment more quickly, and on fighting gangs like MS-13. She must focus on navigating far-reaching criminal justice changes passed this year by the State Legislature — and, critically, be a forceful voice in the upcoming struggle to make needed revisions to some of the more misguided reforms, like the loosening of bail requirements that could lead to the release of dangerous defendants. And Singas needs to remedy two intertwined problems: She should work more closely with federal prosecutors and more diligently pursue cases of official corruption.
Congratulations, too, to Yvette Aguiar, who became the first Hispanic to win a town supervisor race when she upended Democratic incumbent Laura Jens-Smith in Riverhead.
It was difficult to see any of Tuesday’s results as a referendum on Trump, one way or another, as they were in other parts of the country. Trump campaigned Monday night in deep-red Kentucky for GOP Gov. Matt Bevin — and Democrat Andy Beshear claimed victory in a tight race. In suburban bellwether Virginia, Republicans asked Trump to stay away but lost control of both chambers of the state legislature. For the most part, neither Democrats nor Republicans on Long Island invoked him. Instead, local issues held sway. We applaud the winners, and expect them to get to work for all of their people. — The editorial board