Long Islander News’ Town of Huntington Endorsements

Voters in the Town of Huntington will cast their ballots Nov. 7 in one of the most important local elections in recent history. With the retirement of Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone after more than two decades in office, voters will put a new supervisor into the office. Likewise, voters are guaranteed a new face will be at the helm of the Highway Department next January as current Superintendent Pete Gunther is not running. Finally, there are two town board races to be decided; and a post-election vacancy on the board is possible should Councilwoman Susan Berland win her bid to become a county legislator.

It’s a watershed year, and the quality of the candidates seeking office makes the decision-making process that much harder. It’s a quality field and each brings a particular set of insights and skills.

Town Supervisor: Tracey Edwards

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In the Huntington supervisor’s race, Tracey Edwards experience as a high-level corporate executive along with decades of service on various boards makes her the best choice to serve as the town’s chief executive and fiscal officer.

Edwards recently retired from Verizon as a regional president with responsibility for overseeing thousands of employees and multi-million budgets. As a member of the town council, and in previous service as chair of the planning board and vice president of her local school board, Edwards earned a reputation as a take-charge person who gets the job done. She’s set her sights on economic development policies that support local businesses; jump-starting progress on Huntington Station revitalization; and streamlining permitting processes so that everyone from individuals to large-project developers are served fairly.

Chad Lupinacci, currently the state assemblyman for the 10th district, brings experience as a legislator and former school board member, and some fresh ideas. He advocates creating a new position with responsibility for economic development to focus on bringing in jobs. He’d like to: reduce the red tape that discourages homeowners from creating accessory apartments; make town hall more user friendly; and bring someone with a law enforcement background to head the public safety department.

Michael Raspantini, who is running on a newly-created line called End Corruption in Huntington, brings fresh eyes to many issues but would have a learning curve on how government functions. His platform includes the Huntington Station Revitalization, better use of our waterways and term limits.

Edwards, Luppinacci and Raspantini all have good ideas and many of those ideas are shared by the candidates, but only one candidate has managed on a scale bigger than the town, negotiated multi-million dollar contracts with union leadership and knows the operation of the town the first day of their administration, without a transition, to implement their vision of what the town can be.

Tracey Edwards is ready and qualified for the supervisor’s job. She earns our endorsement.

Town Board: Mark Cuthbertson and Ed Smyth

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Four highly qualified candidates are vying for two seats on the Huntington Town Council putting on the table a mix of experience and fresh ideas. This town needs both.

Mark Cuthbertson has served on the town board for 20 years, his institutional knowledge will be critical as the town loses its longtime supervisor. Known for being the “go-to” guy to get things done, Cuthbertson’s greatest appeal may be that with longevity comes a loss of squeamishness over making hard decisions. He scored a homerun when he enticed Canon to build is North America headquarters to town, but recognizes that winning the game requires hitting singles and doubles. His experience will help fill a coming void; his no-nonsense approach is always welcome.

Vote for Mark Cuthbertson.

The remaining candidates are newcomers to political office and each brings a unique outlook.

Emily Rogan, a four-term Huntington school board member, brings a collaborative approach to everything from economic development to public safety, and she’s been involved in government for many years. Her passion for service is refreshing.

Jim Leonick, of Greenlawn, is looking to bring his years of service – from scouting to his Rotary Club – to the next level. His tendency to assume leadership roles seems to come from a ‘roll up your sleeves and get the job done attitude.

Ed Smyth has brought a fresh set of eyes to the game. With a straight forward approach, he’s questioned everything from why we don’t have cell phone service in every area of town, to how sidewalks and parking lots can go unrepaired. His ideal is for government to be the least invasive, and most efficient as possible. In his own words, as a former Marine and longtime attorney, he makes problems go away. Smyth’s fresh insights and problem-solving abilities would serve the town well.

Smyth gets our endorsement.

Highway Superintendent: Kevin Orelli

No race is tougher to call that the one John Clark and Kevin Orelli are waging to serve as Huntington’s Superintendent of Highways. Both would be new to the job as the current highway boss is not seeking reelection. And both bring a serious set of skills.

John Clark, a former deputy in the department, has executive-level experience with a large financial firm where he managed budgets of more than $50 million and hundreds of employees. He brings a business-minded, bottom-line approach to the job, with added emphasis on improving communication with residents.

Kevin Orelli, owner of a drainage and excavation contracting firm, brings hands-on style and a breadth of knowledge to the table. He’s driven snow plows, run backhoes, and gotten his fingernails dirty doing the jobs the Highway Superintendent oversees. And as a small business owner, he’s visited job sites to troubleshoot problems and see it’s getting done right.

Both candidates have strong appeal, and it comes to a question of whether you want experience in the front office or in the trenches. Orelli’s experience in the trenches gives him the edge.

Vote for Kevin Orelli.