After longtime Brookhaven Town clerk Donna Lent announced her retirement after 30 years of service, a special election was set to fill her vacated seat. The election will be held on Jan. 17 at your respective polling places. Early voting started on Jan. 7 and will end on Jan. 15. Current Brookhaven Town councilman Kevin LaValle will be running against community advocate Lisa Di Santo. Below are their compiled bios.
ADV: Why would you make the best candidate for the job?
LAVALLE: I believe the unique combination of experience I have gained in both the public and private sectors will give me the ability to function as a very effective town clerk.
DI SANTO: I believe that I would be the best candidate for the town clerk position because it’s well past the time for an independent voice to lead the clerk’s office. A fresh set of eyes and a different perspective is needed to improve morale and bring the office to the highest level of service possible.
ADV: What previous work have you done that applies to the job of the clerk?
LAVALLE: I ran a title agency where I managed and filed personal records on a daily basis. Also, as a town councilman, I have gained a great deal of knowledge of how the town operates as a whole and built personal relationships with elected officials, department heads and employees, which will be very useful moving forward as the town clerk.
DI SANTO: I have experience in staff management as a small-business owner, as well as budgeting experience as a longtime school board trustee. As a longtime educator I understand the importance of record keeping and following government protocols.
ADV: Would you be as dedicated to the position as the previous clerk was?
LAVALLE: Yes, I plan to be working every day in the clerk’s office. I also plan to attend civic, chamber of commerce and senior meetings throughout the township on nights and weekends to talk about the services the clerk’s office provides to residents.
DI SANTO: I’m certain if given the opportunity to be town clerk, my dedication would far surpass the previous clerk. I have never done anything part-time, and I do not have an out-of-state residence that would cause me to be an absent department head.
ADV: What are you hoping to get done?
LAVALLE: I hope to work with our IT Department and the employees of the clerk’s office to make sure we have the best technology available to secure, maintain, and distribute residents’ vital records. I also want to work to increase the transparency within the clerk’s office by attending various community events throughout the town, establishing a social media presence, and making videos on Channel 18 to explain the various services the clerk’s office provides and how they can be easily and quickly accessed.
DI SANTO: My goals as the town clerk would be to increase the accountability of the office to taxpayers, while also addressing accessibility of all the functions of the clerk’s office. Most importantly, is my goal to address the need to update the office’s decade-old technology in a way that ensures the cybersecurity of all residents’ private information.
ADV: Why did you decide to leave your role as a councilman for this job?
LAVALLE: I have truly enjoyed my time as town councilman and have accomplished a great deal within the Third Council District. With the recent hack of the Suffolk County computer system, it is clear that we need to have solid leadership running our town clerk’s office to secure, maintain, and distribute the vital records of the residents of the Town of Brookhaven. I believe I have the experience and work ethic to be the person to serve in this critical position.
Councilman Kevin LaValle was elected in November 2013 to the Third Council District in the Town of Brookhaven. His area includes Lake Grove, Centereach, Selden, and parts of Lake Ronkonkoma, Farmingville, Port Jeff Station, and a piece of Holbrook. He was raised in Centereach with his parents and four siblings.
He attended Middle Country School District and graduated from Centereach High School in 1995. He went on to obtain a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in political science from Salisbury University, where he graduated from in 2000. He currently resides in Selden.
Prior to his election, LaValle worked for Legis. Daniel Losquadro as his chief of staff for three years, before he became president and part-owner of Pinnacle Title Agency from 2007 to 2011. Most recently, LaValle served as a legislative aide to Legis. Thomas Muratore.
He is also a licensed loan mortgage originator and works for Lynx Mortgage Bank. He specializes in working with first-time homebuyers.
“I am proud to accept the Republican and Conservative nominations to run for Brookhaven town clerk. As town clerk, I will work every day to properly and effectively secure residents’ sensitive information, work to increase the efficiency in which residents can access their personal records, increase transparency within town government, be accountable for the management of the clerk’s office, and promote accessibility to services for disabled and elderly residents,” he said.
LISA DI SANTO
Lisa Di Santo has 30 years of experience as a community advocate in the Bellport/Patchogue area, beginning as a board member of Bellport Area Community Action Committee (BACAC). She also became the vice president of the board as it transitioned in 1996 into the Boys & Girls Club of the Bellport Area.
From 2001 on, she served in various leadership positions in the South Country Central School District PTA and as the legislative chair of the districtwide PTA Council. Most recently, she served from 2009 to 2020 as a trustee in the South Country Central School District.
Her over 20-year experience as a practicing educator includes working as a secondary educator teaching Participation in Government, Global Studies I and II, and American History and Government in grades 7-12. Additionally, for more than a decade (2001-2013), she owned a government and public relations firm, which specialized in health care, not-for-profit social service organizations, and professional associations.
Her local political advocacy activities began as a canvasser for NYPIRG in 1986, when she knocked on doors throughout Suffolk County encouraging/educating people about the original bottle bill and canvassing in Hempstead against the incinerator that would later be bought and operated by Covanta. As a Democratic Committee member throughout the 1990s, she first spoke out against the 1991 Brookhaven Town Ash for Trash deal and then worked on the 1991 and 1993 Brookhaven townwide Blakeslee Team campaigns as campaign coordinator for fundraising, scheduling, and youth volunteers. She subsequently volunteered for Patricia Eddington’s state and town campaigns, Ed Henessey’s campaigns, NYS Senate campaigns for Brian Foley and Adrienne Esposito, and managed the creation of Tim Bishop for Congress’ first campaign website. She also ran for Brookhaven Town Council in 2017.
When asked why she has decided to run for town clerk, she said:
“I am on the ballot because it is time town residents have a real choice to vote for a candidate that has a proven record of community service. It’s vital that the town clerk’s office be an independent voice for adherence to open government practices clearly outlined in both the Town Code and the New York State Constitution. Our government officials do need to be accountable, and the functions of the town clerk’s office need to be more accessible to all residents as well. Modernization in the use of technology in the clerk’s office is warranted, with an emphasis on cybersecurity.”