01/28/13 5:48pm
01/28/2013 5:48 PM

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Suffolk County envisions turning the North Fork Preserve in Northville into Suffolk’s last great county park.

The Suffolk County Legislature will take up the purchase of the final three acres of the North Fork Preserve at its Feb. 5 meeting,  where newly elected North Fork Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) has submitted a bill to acquire the land for $702,000.

The bulk of the property, two parcels totaling 314 acres, were purchased by the county in 2011 for $18.3 million. The county plans to create a public park on the land, with the 133-acre northern section being left undeveloped for use as passive recreation like hiking or horseback riding, and the southern portion being used for more active recreation like camping, tennis and basketball.

The three acres still to be acquired contain three existing structures on them, which will be used by the Suffolk County Parks Department for a caretaker residence and check-in station, a barn for parks maintenance equipment and a garage for park maintenance equipment and a with a small office area for parks personnel, according to Mr. Krupski, who co-sponsoring the bill with County Executive Steve Bellone (D-Babylon).

“The North Fork Preserve property is a critical open space acquisition for Riverhead, the North Fork and all of Suffolk County,” Mr. Krupski said in a press release. “The North Fork Preserve has been called ‘Suffolk’s last great park’ and I agree with that description. The park, with fishing, hiking, camping and more, will be a highlight of the entire Suffolk County park system.”

tgannon@timesreview.com

01/22/13 5:32pm
01/22/2013 5:32 PM

Krupski-copy

With the Suffolk County Board of Elections certifying his Jan. 15 special election victory Tuesday, Al Krupski will be sworn in as the county legislator for the North Fork and Shelter Island at the County Center in Riverhead on Wednesday.

Mr. Krupski said he expects a quick, no-frills event when he takes his oath in the County Clerk’s office at 11 a.m.

The Southold Democrat will step into the office previously held by Ed Romaine, a Center Moriches Republican. With Mr. Romaine’s election in November to Brookhaven Town supervisor, Mr. Krupski will serve the 11-plus months left in Mr. Romaine’s term.

He already took possession of his predecessor’s legislative office in the Cooperative Extension building in Riverhead.

Mr. Krupski, who is leaving his Southold Town Board seat, handily defeated Republican Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter in the Jan. 15 special election. His two-to-one victory margin was the highest of any special election held in Suffolk over the past decade.

tkelly@timesreview.com

01/20/13 2:30pm
01/20/2013 2:30 PM
TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | Sean Walter ‘surrenders’ to Al Krupski at the Dark Horse on election night Tuesday.

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | Sean Walter ‘surrenders’ to Al Krupski at the Dark Horse on election night Tuesday.

Tuesday’s landslide special election victory by Suffolk County Legislator-elect Al Krupski over Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter provided some interesting statistics for political junkies to chew on.

We broke down several facts and figures compiled from the preliminary election results:

• Mr. Krupski won with 6,561 votes to 3,182 for Mr. Walter. That’s a split of 67 percent to 33 percent, the highest percentage victory in the last decade for any special election held in Suffolk County.

• While voter turnout was only about 16 percent in the legislative district, 24 percent of registered voters in Southold Town showed up at the polls Tuesday. Turnout in Mr. Walter’s hometown of Riverhead was just under 17 percent. Voter turnout was particularly low in Brookhaven, where only 1,754 votes were cast, just an 8 percent turnout.

• The only election districts Mr. Walter won in his hometown of Riverhead were in Glenwood Village; along West Main Street, where only 34 votes were cast; and in Calverton, where he prevailed by just one vote.

• Mr. Walter fared best in Brookhaven Town, where he received 48 percent of the vote. He received 43 percent of the vote in Riverhead, 30 percent on Shelter Island  and only 17 percent in Southold.

• Mr. Krupski received a higher percentage of the vote than all but five county legislators who faced opposition in the 2011 general election.

• Mr. Krupski also received a higher percentage of the vote than his predecessor, Ed Romaine, did his inaugural 1st District legislative campaign in 2005, when he received 63 percent of the vote even with a long history in county government.

• Mr. Walter received a total of 3,182 votes, about 1,700 fewer than he received in his previous supervisor run, even though almost 2,000 more people voted in this election.

01/17/13 5:00pm
01/17/2013 5:00 PM

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | Al Krupski taking the oath of office from Southold Justice Rudy Bruer in Jan. 2009 following what turned out to be his last town election victory.

It’s been less than two days since Al Krupski won a lopsided victory to become the North Fork’s county legislator-elect, but he already has committee assignments and a new office. And he knows there’s a lot more ahead as he says farewell to the Southold Town Board and hello to the Suffolk County Legislature.

Mr. Krupski will take the oath of office next Thursday, Jan. 24 — where has yet to be determined — with his term officially beginning on Friday. First, however, there’s the business of the county Board of Elections certifying the election results. The BOE is already into the “recanvassing,” the standard post-election review of all the ballots, and could declare Mr. Krupski the winner sometime next week, said James Anthony, assistant to Democratic Commissioner Anita Katz.

He’s filling a vacancy, which means his office has to be up and running in a matter of days. Since the county owns the Cooperative Extension headquarters building on Griffing Avenue in Riverhead, he’ll take over the office space of his predecessor, Ed Romaine, vacated after his election as Brookhaven Town Supervisor.

Next up is the often politically tricky task of filling his staff.

When his title changes to Legislator Krupski, the Peconic pumpkin farmer will serve on the budget, finance information and technology committee, public works and transportation, health and human services and, of course, the environment, planning and agriculture panel.

“I feel like I have a week to breathe then do a few things at home and I’ll be ready to go,” Mr. Krupski said.

The Legislature’s next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 5. A ceremonial swearing in will likely be held on that date.

tkelly@timesreview.com

01/17/13 11:48am

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Sean Walter ‘surrenders’ to Al Krupski at the Dark Horse on election night Tuesday.

“You stomped me bad.”

Those were Sean Walter’s words Tuesday night after he crashed the Democrats’ Election Night party to deliver his concession remarks personally to Legislator-elect Al Krupski.

The handshake and smile the Riverhead Town Supervisor shared with the man who had so easily defeated him was a classy and unusual move in Suffolk County politics, where typically a phone call is placed or no concession is made at all.

“I’ve never seen that before,” said deputy county executive Jon Schneider, a behind-the-scenes player on every major Democratic campaign in Suffolk County for nearly a decade.

Certainly the move, similar to one Phil Cardinale made after his defeat in 2009, was made possible by the close proximity of the two headquarters: While the Democrats laughed the night away in a private room at the Dark Horse Restaurant on Main Street in downtown Riverhead, Republicans drowned their sorrows in pint glasses filled from the taps of neighboring Cody’s BBQ.

For the past month, we’ve all heard the sledgehammer ads on the radio and listened as Mr. Walter painted himself as the loudest elected official on the North Fork, a man who’s not afraid to stand on someone’s desk to get the job done.

He’s a politician who keeps his friends close and his enemies on another continent.

In some ways, that frank approach in politics is refreshing, like an ice cold beer on a 100-degree day. Have too much of it though, and you’re left feeling dizzy.

The heads at Cody’s were certainly spinning late on Election Night, where Riverhead GOP insiders were contemplating next steps as if their guy were the one moving on. And he just might be.

“I’m not sure where this leaves Sean,” said Republican Councilman Jim Wooten, who could very well run a primary for Riverhead supervisor this year. “The party should maybe take a lesson from this to preserve [itself].

“The party is certainly going to have to sit back and evaluate where it is today.”

And Riverhead’s Democratic leader Marjorie Acevedo was quick to point out that Mr. Walter could face competition from more than just Democrats.

“He’s on very shaky ground,” she said. “Even in his own party.”

The voting breakdown in Riverhead says it all. Mr. Krupski, the first Southold Town resident elected to the Legislature, won all but three election districts in Mr. Walter’s hometown.

The only districts Mr. Walter won in Riverhead were in Glenwood Village; along West Main Street, where only 34 votes were cast; and in Calverton, where he prevailed by just one vote.

Even the folks cutting their lawns next to Mr. Walter’s in Wading River sided with Mr. Krupski.

Particularly interesting Tuesday night was the way Republicans didn’t seem to have a bad word to say about Mr. Krupski or hardly a good one for Mr. Walter.

Of Mr. Krupski, former Riverhead councilman Vic Prusinowski said, “He’s a nice guy, people voted for the guy they liked.”

Suffolk County Democratic chairman Rich Schaffer told supporters Tuesday night that the likability of the two candidates was evident from the beginning of the campaign. He said that during one endorsement screening, a union leader told Mr. Krupski that after seeing Mr. Walter earlier in the day, meeting with Mr. Krupski was like having “a cup of coffee with a friend.”

So who are Mr. Walter’s friends?

Anthony Coates, who has served as a political adviser to the supervisor for the past several years, was speaking Wednesday as if the political faction he and Mr. Walter belong to is unrelated to the local GOP.

“The national Republican party doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo that it lost handily in November; the local party cannot make that same mistake,” Mr. Coates, himself a declared candidate for Riverhead Town Board this coming November, said in a statement. “True change comes by humbling oneself, taking inventory and acting decisively. Riverhead Republicans need to understand that they need to change their ways to keep the public’s trust.”

Mr. Coates’ remarks certainly signal that Mr. Walter is prepared to move on without the help of his “friends” if he’s going to be re-elected come November.

While it might be true that the local and national GOP is in need of some real reform to keep up with the times — the crowd at Krupski headquarters was certainly much younger than at the Republican event — it’s hard to believe they’ll be taking suggestions from Mr. Walter and Mr. Coates.

True change, as Mr. Coates said, certainly does come by humbling oneself. Hopefully, Tuesday night’s handshake was a starting point for Mr. Walter.

gparpan@timesreview.com

01/17/13 5:59am

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Suffolk County Democratic Chairman Rich Schaffer, County Executive Steve Bellone, Legislator-elect Al Krupski and Legislator Wayne Horsley on election night.

Throughout his campaign for the 1st District seat in the Suffolk County Legislature, Republican Sean Walter repeatedly referred to his opponent’s party as the Babylon Democrats.

It’s not a terribly unfair remark, given that the county executive, the county Democratic chair and the Legislature’s deputy presiding officer all hail from that South Shore town.

County Legislator-elect Al Krupski now faces a major challenge -— how to balance the ideals of the North Fork with his obligation to the men and women who helped get him elected.

That balancing act was immediately on display Tuesday night as he posed for pictures with Suffolk County Democratic chairman Rich Schaffer, County Executive Steve Bellone and Legislator Wayne Horsley. Mr. Krupski, third from left in the photo above, was the Teddy Roosevelt to their Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln of Mount Babmore. It was exactly the kind of image Mr. Walter would have wanted us all to see before we headed to the polls.

Soon after that picture came shots of the newly elected legislator with leaders of the Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association. Trust us, Suffolk’s finest will send him that picture as a reminder of their support when it comes time to negotiate a new contract.

Mr. Krupski is not in Kansas anymore. He’s not in Southold, either.

Hauppauge, home of the county Legislature, is a stressful place where he’ll be forced to make tough, often partisan decisions.

Will he be asked to bring development to the East End and turn his back on preservation? Doubtful. But he will almost certainly be asked to support initiatives that raise spending and increase taxes, particularly as the county continues to plug away at budget shortfalls.

As we noted in our endorsement of him last week, we believe Mr. Krupski has what it takes to balance his obligation to the residents of the North Fork with the needs of his party. Now it’s up to him to prove it.

01/15/13 9:00pm
01/15/2013 9:00 PM
GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | County Executive Steve Bellone (right) said with his landslide victor Al Krupski is the most popular elected official in county government.

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | County Executive Steve Bellone (right) said that with Tuesday’s landslide victory, Al Krupski (middle) is now the most popular elected official in county government.

Councilman Al Krupski has handily defeated Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter for the 1st District seat in the Suffolk County Legislature.

Polls for Tuesday’s special election closed at 9 p.m. and — before the Board of Elections update page crashed — Mr. Krupski had 6,445 votes to Mr. Walter’s 3,076, with 62 of 65 districts reporting.

That’s good for 68 percent to 32 percent.

County Executive Steve Bellone (D-Babylon) showed to Democratic election night headquarters at Dark Horse restaurant in Riverhead not long after Mr. Walter conceded with a handshake and some words congratulating his opponent.

Mr. Krupski’s win now gives the Democrats a veto-proof majority in the Legislature.

Mr. Bellone said he just got back from “a big win today in Washington” with Congress’s approval of aid to Hurricane Sandy victims. Then added, “Common sense is coming to Hauppauge with our new county legislator.”

“Al, you are now the most popular elected official in county government,” Mr. Bellone said of the final vote tally.

Click below in our live blog for reports from the two party headquarters, as well as readers comments, photos and reactions.

There’s also a video of Mr. Walter’s concession speech to his supporters.

01/15/13 6:00am
Republican Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter (left) in debate with Democrat Al Krupski at Martha Clara Vineyards Monday night, as both men seek the Suffolk County Legislature’s 1st District seat.

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Republican Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter (left) in debate with Democrat Al Krupski at Martha Clara Vineyards last Monday night, as both men seek the Suffolk County Legislature’s 1st District seat.

Polling places will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. today for the Suffolk County First Legislative District special election.

Republican Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter and Democratic Southold Councilman Al Krupski are vying for Ed Romaine’s seat, which he vacated after he was elected Brookhaven Town Supervisor in November.

Board of Elections representatives said Friday that voters will go to their usual general election polling places, except in Ridge, where voting has been moved from the Ridge Firehouse to the Ridge Elementary School, due to damage to the firehouse during Hurricane Sandy.

Voters who are unsure of their polling place can look it up here.

The first district stretches from Middle Island to Fishers Island and includes Shelter Island (until the district lines change next year).

Times/Review Newsgroup will be live blogging from the candidates’ headquarters tonight.

Mr. Walter and Mr. Krupski squared off in a debate Jan. 7. Click here for full coverage.

byoung@timesreview.com