11/15/12 5:00pm
11/15/2012 5:00 PM
Suffolk County Legislature, Sean Walter, Ed Romaine

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Sean Walter at a Town Board meeting earlier this year.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter admitted Friday that his is one of several names being thrown around as the Suffolk GOP seeks candidates for the legislative seat being vacated by Republican Ed Romaine.

While Mr. Walter stopped well short of saying he would be interested in the position, he did say his party will need a strong candidate if it’s going to retain the seat — as longtime Southold Councilman Al Krupski, who is popular in the town, has emerged as the likely Democratic nominee.

“Al Krupski is going to be a formidable candidate and Republicans have to realize that,” he said. “And if the Republicans want to win that seat, they’re going to have to find somebody to carry Riverhead.

Al Krupski, Sean Walter, Riverhead, Southold, Suffolk County Legislature

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Al Krupski announcing his legislative candidacy Tuesday night.

“To me, it’s got to be an elected official from Riverhead because I think in the end, as a Repbulican, you don’t want to throw in the towel. If you can’t carry Riverhead, you can’t carry out a win.

“That’s why all these names are being thrown around.”

Asked if he would want to serve the county’s First Legislative District, Mr. Walter said only that he’s focused now on running Riverhead Town.

“I have not been formally asked to do it, so I’m focusing on what I’m doing in the town and that’s it,” he said.

Mr. Romaine is now the supervisor-elect for Brookhaven Town and will step down soon from the Suffolk County Legislature.

A special election — which offers no primary opportunities — to fill the remaining year on Mr. Romaine’s term will likely be held in February.

Mr. Walter is serving his second two-year term as Riverhead supervisor.

mwhite@timesreview.com

11/13/12 8:26pm
11/13/2012 8:26 PM

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Al Krupski announcing his legislative candidacy Tuesday night.

A week after his name was first mentioned as perhaps the Democrat’s best hope to capture the Suffolk County Legislature seat Ed Romaine is leaving, Al Krupski ended all speculation Tuesday night.

He’s going for it.

Mr. Krupski, a Peconic farmer who has served in elected office in Southold for 28 years, announced his decision during a meeting of the town’s Democratic Committee.

“It’s an exciting opportunity,” said Mr. Krupski, one of only two Democrats in town government. Should he gain the seat, he said, “I’ll still be serving Southold, only in a different capacity.”

The Legislature’s First District includes Southold, Riverhead and part of southeast Brookhaven. Mr. Romaine, a Center Moriches Republican, will leave the Legislature once he’s sworn in as Brookhaven Town’s next supervisor.

Shortly after the Romaine victory last Tuesday, County Democratic Chairman Rich Shaffer named Mr. Krupski, who’s in his eighth year as a town councilman, as his choice to run in the special election, expected to take place early next year.

He said he’d welcome the opportunity to represent the North Fork in county government, which in addition to continuing its land preservation program is responsible for dredging local waterways.

“There are a lot of things the county does that affects Southold,” he said.

Read the full story in this week’s News-Review.

11/09/12 4:09pm
11/09/2012 4:09 PM
Bill Faulk, Ed Romaine, 1LD, Suffolk County

COURTESY PHOTO | Bill Faulk of Manorville has served as Ed Romaine’s chief aide for seven years.

Suffolk County Legislator Ed Romaine’s longtime chief of staff, Bill Faulk, said he’s delighted with his boss’s big win in running for Brookhaven Town supervisor on Election Day.

“But I’m not ready to leave [the district],” he told the News-Review on Friday.

Mr. Faulk is among a pool of potential Republican candidates, including Riverhead Town councilmembers Jodi Giglio and John Dunleavy, who’ve publicly expressed interest in the seat.

“Right now I plan on staying in the district and serving the people,” said Mr. Faulk. “My heart’s here with the district and this is where I want to be, to make sure this the district remains the way it is, through preserving farmland and open space, protecting the estuaries, holding the line on taxes.

“These are things I believe in.”

Mr. Faulk, 35, of Manorville is a Southampton College graduate who earned a master’s degree from Stony Brook University in public policy. He ran unsuccessfully for the state Assembly in 2006.

He’s served as Mr. Romaine’s chief aide for seven years, since Mr. Romaine, of Center Moriches, took office in 2006.

Before that, he served as an aide to Joseph Caracappa while Mr. Caracappa was the presiding officer of the Legislature.

The only name mentioned out of the Democratic camp since Election Day has been Southold Councilman Al Krupski, who this week told the News-Review he would consider a run.

It’s not clear yet how, exactly, the respective nominees will be picked, but since the race for the First Legislative District seat will come in the form of a special election to fill the remaining year on Mr. Romaine’s term, there are no options to run a primary.

Party leaders on both sides would likely pick the candidate. The district includes parts of Brookhaven, and all of Riverhead, Southold and Shelter Island.

The vote will likely take place in February.

Mr. Faulk believes his knowledge of all issues of importance to Mr. Romaine’s constituents makes him a strong candidate.

“I know his district as well as he does,” he said. “And I think his sucessor should be someone who could carry on the mission of the district, and be a strong voice for its residents.”

“Ed was elected supervisor and he has leave, but I’m not ready to go,” he continued. “There’s still work to be done and I believe I can get it done.”

mwhite@timesreview.com

11/08/12 12:00pm

JOHN GRIFFIN PHOTO | The crowd goes wild at Suffolk County Democratic Committee Headquarters as they hear Obama won Tuesday night.

Times/Review contributing photographers John Griffin and Robert O’Rourk documented election night with their cameras Tuesday.

Griffin shot the Democratic gala at the Islandia Marriott. O’Rourk was with the GOP at its gala at Emporium in Patchogue.

Below are some photos from the events they covered:

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11/08/12 8:00am

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | Al Krupski and Congressman Tim Bishop at a March event in Southold.

Scott Russell vs. Al Krupski?

County Legislator Ed Densieski?

Faulk for Legislature?

These are some of the names being bounced around by party leaders to replace County Legislator Ed Romaine, who won a special election Tuesday for Brookhaven Town Supervisor.

Mr. Krupski was the only potential candidate named Tuesday night by Suffolk Democratic chairman Richard Schaffer. He said Wednesday that he’s interested, but he can’t commit to running in a special election just yet.

“I can’t say yes but I’m not saying no,” said Mr. Krupski, the only Democrat to hold a Town Board post in Mr. Romaine’s district.  “I’m going to talk about it with Rich and then talk about it with my family. I certainly know the district and the county, so it’s not like I’m coming out of the cabbage patch.”

In that comment Mr. Krupski pokes fun at his life as a pumpkin farmer, and raises the question on whether he can run his family’s Peconic agricultural business while simultaneously representing a legislative district that stretches from Fishers Island to Center Moriches.

“That’s going to take a little bit of reflection,” he said.

Art Tillman, Southold Democratic leader, responded with enthusiasm on the prospect of councilman’s candidacy.

“I think it would be great to have a farmer serving in the County Legislature,” Mr. Tillman said.

Mr. Krupski, Southold’s only elected Democrat, has long been considered the heir-apparent to Republican Supervisor Scott Russell.

During the Southold Polish Democratic Club’s “roast” of Mr. Krupski earlier this year, Mr. Schaffer went as far as to describe the councilman as “Southold’s next supervisor.”

And he still could be. Especially if Mr. Russell ran for the open legislature seat. Sound like a stretch? Well, Suffolk County Republican chairman John Jay LaValle said Wednesday that Mr. Russell’s name has been discussed for the post, though he said he has not yet had a conversation with the supervisor about it.

Mr. Russell said that’s unlikely, especially with Mr. Krupski on the ballott.

“There’s no scenario whatsoever where I would be running against Albert for any elected office,” he said.

If Krupski wasn’t in the mix?.

“I’m pretty invested in Southold Town,” said Mr. Russell, who confirmed he hasn’t talked to Mr. LaValle. “There’s a lot of demands to being supervisor, but at the end of the day I’m still in Southold. I still get to go to my kid’s football game. The strains of covering four towns would hamper my ability to be a good dad. Politics is all about timing and the timing isn’t right.”

Mr. Russell noted that for a brief time in 1995 he actually was the expected GOP nominee for Legislature, but was replaced at the nominating convention by former Legislator Mike Caracciolo.

Mr. LaValle said he has been approached about the vacant seat by Bill Faulk, an aide to Mr. Romaine, and former Riverhead Town Councilman Ed Densieski.

Riverhead Town Councilmembers John Dunleavy and Jodi Giglio have both expressed interest, among other Republicans about the job.

Riverhead GOP chairman John Galla said Republicans will have many options.

“I think you’re going to see a deep bench of candidates,” he said. “I’m sure you’ll hear from people who might come forward now that the people of Brookhaven made their decision.”

Anthony Coates, an aide to Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter, said he plans to pursue a political office in 2013. He is expected to make an announcement next week.

Mr. Romaine said his replacement in the Legislature will have to fight hard to get the residents of the North Fork what they need. He said that person will need to stand up to others “for what is right” for the East End.

“If the issues are right and you can make a decent case, you can prevail,” said Mr. Romaine when asked what advice he’d give his replacement.

And what might those key issues be?

“Preserving farmland and open space,” he said. “Working on the Peconic Estuary to minimize nitrogen pollution and preventing red and brown tide. Working to preserve our coastline from erosion. And ensuring that taxes stay low. I can go on and on.”

Mr. Romaine secured about 57 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s special election to replace former supervisor Mark Lesko. He outperformed Democratic nominee Brian Beedenbender of Centereach by more than 20,000 votes.

Reporting by Jennifer Gustavson, Tim Kelly, Paul Squire and Michael White.

11/07/12 12:53am
11/07/2012 12:53 AM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Ed Romaine, right, was elected Brookhaven Town Supervisor Tuesday. He’s shown here with Brookhaven GOP chairman Jesse Garcia.

Election season came to a close on the North Fork Tuesday. It starts back up Wednesday.

That’s because North Fork County Legislator Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches) has won a special election to become the next Brookhaven Town Supervisor, setting up a February special election to fill his seat in the Legislature.

“Tomorrow is a new day for cheers,” Mr. Romaine told GOP supporters at the party gala in Patchogue Tuesday night.

He said his replacement in the Legislature will have to fight hard to get the residents of the North Fork what they need. He said that person will need to stand up to others “for what is right” for the East End.

“If the issues are right and you can make a decent case, you can prevail,” said Mr. Romaine of what advice he’d give his replacement.

Now the attention will turn to just who that replacement will be.

Suffolk County Democratic Chairman Richard Schaffer of Babylon said his first phone call Wednesday will be to gauge the interest of Southold Councilman Al Krupski, the only Democrat to serve on a Town Board in Mr. Romaine’s district.

“People respect him and know he calls it like he sees it,” said Mr. Schaffer of Mr. Krupski. He did not discuss any other potential candidates.

The Republican picture isn’t as clear but a pair of Riverhead Councilmembers, Jodi Giglio and John Dunleavy, previously expressed an interest in the post to the News-Review.

Democrats, with a 12-member caucus that includes two minor-party members, currently hold a majority in the Suffolk County Legislature. The County Executive, Steve Bellone, is also a Democrat.

Reporting by Jennifer Gustavson and Michael White

10/18/12 8:00am
10/18/2012 8:00 AM

COURTESY PHOTO | Jen Stress, a former program assistant with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, drags a flagging cloth through a field to survey area tick numbers.

East Enders who have suffered with Lyme and other tick-borne diseases had their chance Oct. 10 to voice their frustrations to a new county task force charged with coming up with concrete steps to control the spread of the diseases.

Suffolk County Legislator Ed Romaine convened the 16-member Tick & Vector-Borne Disease Task Force earlier this fall in an attempt to focus on the health crisis facing the East End.

During the committee’s public hearing at the Southold Recreation Center in Peconic last Wednesday, task force members got an earful from people who have suffered for years from chronic Lyme Disease, ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and other serious illnesses.

Many in attendance said they’ve had difficulty getting doctors to take their chronic symptoms seriously and put them on the long-term antibiotics they need to go about their lives.

Still others told stories of years — and sometimes decades — of misdiagnoses before their illness was correctly identified as Lyme disease.

“The insurance companies don’t want to pay for it …. Doctors that know what to do and have the guts to do it are afraid,” said Sue Ulrich of Shirley. “You don’t need any of those degrees to know you are sick.”

“If you’re a tourist, you should come here in a tank and don’t get out,” said Ugo Polla of Cutchogue, adding that ticks abound in vineyards and other tourist destinations. “Have the wine delivered, drink it and get out,” he said.

“It seems like we just keep studying these things. We need action,” said Hugh Switzer of Peconic. “We need support for our supervisor and board for actions necessary to get rid of deer. We have friends who no longer want to visit with us. They say, ‘Why would I want to come if every time I go outside I have to check for ticks?’ Our children won’t bring our grandchildren to see us.”

Numerous people told the task force horror stories of their children’s lives after they were bitten by ticks.

Jen Brown of North Haven told the task force that her son was first bitten by a tick at age 2. Now 5, he has been through weeks of hospitalization and has had more than a thousand brain seizures.

“He’s currently so fragile the infection cannot be treated because of the seizures,” she said.

Dr. John Rasweiler, a retired medical school professor who studied mammalian biology, said “deer are a terrible, terrible problem.”

Dr. Rasweiler, who serves on the town’s deer management committee, said last year only 382 of the approximately 10,000 deer in Southold were killed by hunters.

“I’m sorry. It’s just not cutting the mustard,” he said of Southold’s deer hunting program.

Dr. Rasweiler suggested that car insurance companies could pay for more aggressive deer management programs through a special surcharge on local car insurance bills. He said he had researched the cost of deer-related car accidents, which he estimated at about $200 million in New York State each year.

“This could pay for the program, and in the process take care of the problem with ticks and environmental damage” caused by deer, he said.

Supervisor Scott Russell said that in order to have a truly effective deer hunt, he needs the state to change the law to allow hunters to bait deer.

He said he has been pressuring local representatives in the state Legislature to introduce such a bill. Once it’s introduced, he said, he’d like Southold residents to launch a letter writing and phone call campaign in support of the measure.

“We have the hunters, the [meat] cooler and wildlife butchers. We need legislation allowing us to bait,” he said. “We need to have some flexibility at the state level.”

byoung@timesreview.com

10/18/12 7:59am

You’ve got to feel just a bit sorry for the members of County Legislator Ed Romaine’s tick task force, which held its first local public hearing in Peconic last week.

As the story on page 3 of this week’s edition points out, the group’s members spoke little but heard a lot. The information passed on to them was far from new — people suffering over the years with a variety of debilitating tick-borne diseases, not just the universally known and feared Lyme disease.

The question is what to do with it all.

Ticks are everywhere — in fields, forests, farms and our own backyards. Some are nearly impossible to see, but their bites can cause maladies impossible to ignore. The burgeoning deer population most often gets the blame but, like it or not, the deer will always be with us.

Hunting alone won’t cull the herd enough to make a measurable difference, nor will adding contraceptives to feeding stations. In favorable conditions — and the one fact that has become all too clear is the East End with its farms and lawns and tasty (to deer, anyway) gardens and shrubs offers ideal conditions — a deer herd can increase by 40 percent a year.

Tests of the “4-Poster” tick control system on Shelter Island, which gives a dose of insecticide to deer dining at a feeding station, has shown that approach can work, but the idea has yet to catch on with local governments. That’s not surprising, since each of the Shelter Island 4-Posters cost $5,000 a year to maintain and fears persist that potentially harmful pesticides might find their way into the environment and the food chain.

As Southold Town discovered in creating its deer management program, hunting restrictions are the state’s purview and the state shows absolutely no interest in relaxing hunting restrictions in populated areas.

That’s why we feel a bit sorry for the tick task force. Theirs seems an impossible task and, not to prejudge, but there’s absolutely nothing to be gained by the release of a report concluding that the problem is serious and something should be done about it.

That became all too obvious many years ago.