Bridget Fleming has been one of the most active and effective lawmakers since her election to the legislature four years ago. Her accomplishments range from environmental advances to infrastructure.
Fleming, 59, a Democrat from Noyac, helped revamp the county's sanitary code and was instrumental in setting up a grant and loan program to help homeowners install high-tech septic systems to reduce nitrogen pollution. She has worked to reduce tick-borne illnesses and collaborated with environmental groups on a mapping project to help generate community solar installations. She has been a strong proponent of affordable housing and public transit, and she formed a working group that goes to Albany every year to lobby for money for the county bus system, an effort that generated $2 million this year.
Her latest initiative is a capital fund to invest in developing regional solutions for sea-level rise and coastal resiliency. It's a good idea, and one that was seeded with $200,000. Republican challenger Linda Kabot opposes the program, saying the county must shore up its finances before it engages in more capital spending.
Kabot, 51, a Realtor from Quogue, is staking her candidacy onfixing Suffolk's budget woes, but is a flawed messenger on that front. Kabot was a Southampton Town Board member for six years and supervisor in 2008-09, but when she lost a reelection bid in 2009, the town was in a financial crisis. Her successor shepherded Southampton back to fiscal health, but Kabot says that was based on a corrective plan she started. Fleming, who joined the town board after Kabot departed, disagrees.
Kabot, however is right to focus on finances. She says services the county is not required to deliver should be subject to cuts. She singled out mailers and the county planning department for reductions, and suggested selling some county-owned properties. Kabot might develop into a capable legislator, but is too single-minded in her focus and too keen on waging old battles.
Fleming has shown she can get things done.
Newsday endorses Fleming.