Blass retires after 35 years in public service

01/17/2013 11:52 AM |
Greg Blass steps down as Suffolk County Department of Social Service head

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Greg Blass handling home heating oil subsidies as Department of Social Services commissioner in 2010.

Jamesport resident and one-time congressional hopeful Gregory Blass is retiring from his position as commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Social Services, after more than 35 years of public service.

Mr. Blass, also a former presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature, family court judge and JAG officer in the U.S. Navy, was appointed as Social Services commissioner by former county executive Steve Levy in 2009.

Current County Executive Steve Bellone said in a release Thursday that Mr. Blass will be difficult to replace.

“Given Commissioner Blass’s unique resume, it will be impossible to fill his shoes with someone of equivalent experience,” said Mr. Bellone. “However, I will work hard to find a worthy successor who shares Greg’s commitment to serving Suffolk’s most vulnerable populations with compassion while at the same time running the department as efficiently as possible.”

Mr. Bellone said Mr. Blass’s job has proved a hefty one, as he joined the department in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

“Since 2008, we have seen Food Stamp caseloads more than double from nearly 23,000 to more than 55,000 and emergency housing requests have skyrocketed by 74 percent from an average of 270 per month to 471,” said Mr. Bellone. “Despite these challenges, Commissioner Blass has guided the department forward in a way that best serves Suffolk’s most vulnerable residents.

“In 2012 alone, the department averaged a placement of more than a family per day into permanent housing.”

Mr. Blass ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for New York’s 1st Congressional District seat in 1986, losing to Democratic candidate George Hochbrueckner.

His wife, Barbara Blass, is a former Riverhead Town Board member.

Read more about Greg Blass’s career in the Jan. 24 News-Review newspaper.

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