“I will leave here with a profound sense of pride in the work I have done alongside dedicated public servants with who I have had the honor and the privilege to work.”
For the last 12 years, Steve Bellone has held the position of Suffolk County executive. On Thursday morning at the H. Lee Dennison Building, Bellone gave his farewell address. His last day in office will be Dec. 31 and recently elected Ed Romaine will take office on Jan. 1, 2024.
Bellone was sworn into office on Jan. 1, 2012. In 2015, he was re-elected to a second term and, in 2019, to a third term. Bellone is the eighth county executive in Suffolk County’s history.
Deputy county executive Ryan Attard acted as MC for the event. She welcomed Sgt. Michael Meehan of the Suffolk County Police Department Emerald Society, who played the bagpipes while government officials, including Bellone, entered.
After the procession, Tom Ronayne, former longtime director of Veterans Service and U.S. Navy veteran, led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by the national anthem, sung by 7th Precinct Suffolk County police officer Steven Drew.
Before Bellone spoke, his children, Katie, Molly and Michael, shared a few words. They shared how proud they were of their father and his work in public service. In addition, they shared how they look forward to spending more time with him. “Even though my father worked longer hours than my friends’ parents, I could tell you that family has always come first for him,” said his daughter Molly. She added, “I know whatever he decides to do next, he will do it with determination, perseverance, and success.” His oldest daughter, Katie, introduced Bellone.
A teary-eyed Bellone started by thanking his children. “I can tell you out of all the things we’ve done, things I may have done in my life, watching you [my children] up there speaking like that is maybe the proudest moment for me.” he said.
He went on to thank his administration, current and former members, law enforcement, and people in attendance. “This is an important and honorable endeavor that you have engaged in. I’ve been and remain honored to serve with all of you.”
He shared his accomplishments as Suffolk County executive, which include overcoming crises such as Superstorm Sandy, Winter Storm Nemo, a cyber emergency, and COVID-19.
He added how his administration tackled corruption at the highest level of law enforcement in Suffolk County: “Winning that battle finally opened up the possibility to institute structural reform in this government.”
Bellone went on to discuss confronting the opioid crisis in Suffolk County. He stated that Suffolk County was the first county in New York to hold those responsible accountable by suing those companies. All the money extracted from the companies goes towards battling the epidemic and helping families who have been impacted.
His administration was also responsible for the Connect Long Island program, which involves investing in downtown areas and connecting them to each other and natural resources. “We implemented this vision by investing in the creation of community-based plans and infrastructure and affordable housing,” Bellone said.
Additionally, he spoke about investing in transportation and launching the Reimagined Transit Plan, the most extensive overhaul of the Suffolk transit system in over 40 years. It puts 50 percent of jobs within reach of county residents who rely on public transportation.
Concerning public safety, Bellone talked about confronting MS13 and fulfilling the commitment to dismantle their operations. Bellone added that crime is down 30 percent since he took office in 2012. His administration also implemented the most comprehensive police reform plan of any county in New York.
Bellone stated, “I’m proud to say, without question, that we have the most diverse administration of any in New York State and certainly in the history of this county.”