By Jano Tantongco
Huntington Councilwoman Susan Berland announced today that she will run for the seat of Suffolk Legislator Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills), who will run the course of his six-term limit at the end of this year.
Berland, a Huntington councilwoman since 2001, made the announcement at a breakfast event held this morning that was attended by local legislators and Democrats.
She said she’d “like to bring my years of experience in local government to advocate for the people of the 16th Legislative District.
“I have a lot of things that I’m really interested in, and I think I can help a lot of people..”
Berland said Stern has done a “terrific job” and she hopes to continue his legacy of advocating for veterans and also aims to tackle economic and infrastructure issues.
“I love serving the people of the Town of Huntington, I love serving as a councilwoman. And, I’m really excited about running this race and representing the entire legislative district. I really enjoyed tremendously my time on the town board,” Berland said.
Asked if he would endorse Berland, Stern said she would make an “outstanding legislator to represent our communities” in Suffolk’s 16th Legislative District.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with her on many issues over the course of many years. I know Councilwoman Berland to be a tremendous advocate for the community that she represents,” said Stern, who was first elected in 2005. “You always know where she stands on an issue. She is always available and accessible to her constituents.”
Stern serves as the chairman of the legislature’s Veterans Committee, a position he’s held since 2006. He also serves as vice-chairman of both the Economic Development Committee and the Seniors and Consumer Protection Committee.
As for Stern, going forward, he said he hopes to wind down and spend more time with his kids, while also helping them with their homework. His sixth and last term expires at the end of this year, with the new legislator to be sworn in at the first business day of the year, Stern said.
“I’ll look back on 12 years of service to my community. I’m very proud of our accomplishments, but also very proud of how we’ve done it and conducted ourselves while serving as representative for our community,” Stern said. “I hope I’ve made my neighbors proud.”
Rich Schaffer, chairman of the Suffolk County Democratic Committee, said both the county committee and the Huntington Town Democratic Committee endorse Berland.
Schaffer recounted starting his position in 2001, the same year that Berland first took office as councilwoman.
“I’ve always seen the passion that she has for the position, being in local government,” Schaffer said. “She’s always said that’s been what she wants to work on: local issues.”
He praised her work, pointing to Huntington’s low taxes and its triple A bond rating, and said she would make an “outstanding legislator.”
“She’s done many initiatives focused on improving the quality of life in her area. I expect she’ll bring that same creativity, enthusiasm and intellect to the county legislature.”
Suffolk County Republican Committee Chairman John Jay LaValle did not return a call for comment regarding a potential Republican contender for Stern’s seat.