After interviewing the two candidates we believe that both have strong points. Legislator John Kennedy has been in service to the County for many years and knows the systems he would be now responsible to audit. Suffolk County Water Authority (SCWA) Chairman James Gaughran brings management skills honed as chairman of this utility. The two depart on the issue of merging the County Treasurer’s Office with that of the County Comptroller’s office: Gaughran is for; Kennedy is against. We at Long Islander News feel that Sufffolk County will not gain any additional control by having the functions headed by two different elected officials. In fact, we believe the merger will save money and should go forward. We also believe that while Kennedy did not have wrongful intentions when he hired his wife to work on his legislative staff, it is not a model of best governmental practices. Also at issue is a missed filing required under anti-nepotism laws that the legislator’s wife was on payroll. While this was not critical and it did not suggest malfeasance, it did demonstrate the lack of attention to process – the process that a strong Comptroller will heavily rely upon. Jim Gaughran has shown his attention to details and process in his work at the SCWA, which has recently had its AAA bond rating affirmed by Fitch. Gaughran also outlined positive key steps that he believes would help the County run better though the proper use of budgeting and audits.
Based on Jim Gaughran’s past performance, view of the future and even-tempered demeanor, we believe he is the right person to lead the Comptroller’s office. Long Islander News endorses Jim Gaughran.