The Republican and Conservative parties will officially announce their Suffolk County executive candidate selection later today, Thursday, Feb. 23, at the Holbrook Long Island MacArthur Marriott, as Brookhaven Town supervisor Ed Romaine. Current Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone is term limited and will leave office at the end of 2023.
“Ed Romaine is a political force countywide,” Suffolk County Republican Party chairman Jesse García said. “As supervisor of Suffolk’s largest town, he’s had to take on multiple challenges to right the financial ship of Brookhaven and propel it forward. Ed Romaine proven vote-getter with a record of accomplishment. Romaine is pro-taxpayer, pro-small business, pro-quality of life, pro-environment. Romaine will fight the plan by Kathy Hochul and her Democrat allies to turn our rural county into Queens.”
After going through a screening process, Romaine, 76, said he was ready to officially announce his candidacy. Though he is sad to let his supervisor job go, he said that he is eager for the new position.
“I don’t think of myself running against anyone, I am running for the position,” Romaine said, promising a clean campaign on his end. “I am ready for this. I know the county and was an elected official in the county for 28 years.”
Romaine said he will be running to create a government that is fiscally responsive, just as he did with the town. He wants to increase the county’s bond rating and manage it in such a way that it becomes cost efficient while also restoring the public’s faith in government.
“I am running to work for the future of this county and its residents,” he said of his campaign. “We need safer neighborhoods. We leave from the burden of high property taxes, less traffic, and overdevelopment, and a county government that works and is responsive to its residents.”
He also noted that he can’t support the governor’s affordable housing plan, which he said, would force the island to grow without proper sewers in place. He also promised to maintain his goals for the environment, focusing on clean water.
“This is going to be a challenge,” he admitted, stating that he could be doing other things with his life. Instead, he said, he hopes to take his life experiences and put it to work. “This is for the future of Suffolk. My grandchildren are growing up here, and I want them to stay here.”
Romaine and his wife, Diane, have three grandchildren who live in East Moriches.
“They are my joy,” he added. “I lived here most my life, since I was 6 months old. I want a better future than what I see on the horizon. I envision a better future and want to work towards that future as county executive.”
The Center Moriches resident began his career as a history teacher in the Hauppauge School District, then served in Brookhaven’s Housing and Community Development and Economic Development departments. Romaine was elected Suffolk County legislator, then county clerk, then was elected again to legislator between 1986 and 2005, during which time he wrote the county’s first Clean Water Act, acquired thousands of acres of open farmland, urged and supported dredging projects throughout the county, and froze county general fund taxes.
After winning the 2012 Brookhaven supervisor election to complete former supervisor Mark Lesko’s term, the Romaine ran again in 2013 for his first two-year term, also on the Conservative and Independence lines.
As supervisor, some of Romaine’s top priorities included making sure the town was fiscally secure, to prevent overdevelopment and preserve open space near waterways, wetlands and environmentally sensitive areas. He is proud of the high credit and bond ratings that he said allows the town to borrow at lower rates as well as his commitment to green improvements across the town, including solar panels on almost all town facilities. Romaine was also the first supervisor to announce that the town landfill will be scheduled to close in 2024. He has also been working with the town board to set up adequate measures leading up to and following its closure.
He ran for supervisor and won reelection in 2015, 2017, 2019, 2021 and would have been up for re-election this year. Instead, according to the town, deputy supervisor and Sixth District trustee Dan Panico has been nominated as the Republican candidate for Brookhaven Town supervisor.
Panico currently serves as District 6 councilman and deputy supervisor for the Town of Brookhaven. Panico was elected to the town board in a special election in 2010, following the death of his friend, Keith Romaine. He was previously a member of the town planning board. He lives in Center Moriches with his wife, Deanna, and their children, Grant and Brooke.
“I am seeking the nomination for Brookhaven Town supervisor. My record on the environment and open space is unmatched. In working with supervisor Romaine and the town board, we have created a fiscally sound Brookhaven. Between townwide initiatives like the tax cap, anti-nepotism law and ethics reform that I have sponsored, as well as an unparalleled grasp of land use, zoning and planning, I have helped guide Brookhaven and know that I possess the skill set necessary to bring this town toward a brighter future,” Panico said of his nomination. “Leading a town the size of Brookhaven takes experience and the courage to do what’s right. I offer that leadership, and look forward to campaigning on my record across this town, speaking to people from every community and political persuasion, and letting them know that we can make Brookhaven even better by ensuring that local government works for all.”
On the Democratic line for county executive, former federal and state prosecutor Dave Calone announced his candidacy last year. Calone lives in Setauket with his wife, a Presbyterian minister, and three children.
He served as both a federal and New York State prosecutor, where he prosecuted corporate fraud and terrorism and helped negotiate what was at the time the largest health care fraud recovery for taxpayers in state history. He is currently a business leader who helps start and build technology companies on Long Island and around the country. Calone served as chair of the Suffolk County Planning Commission for eight years, where he spearheaded the creation of Suffolk County’s 2035 Comprehensive Master Plan.
The election for Suffolk County executive and Brookhaven Town supervisor will take place on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 7.