01/17/13 5:59am
01/17/2013 5:59 AM

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 5:59am

Name: Sean Walter

Age: 46

Current Job: Riverhead Town Supervisor

Current Salary: $115,148

Legislative Salary: $93,958

Sean Walter is the Republican, Conservative and Independence candidate to replace Ed Romaine as 1st District Suffolk County Legislator in tonight’s special election.

An attorney from Wading River, Mr. Walter pointed to steering new businesses to Main Street, improving the town’s financial picture and moving toward the creation of a subdivision at EPCAL as major highlights of his tenure as Riverhead supervisor the past three years.

He said his work on these major areas of concern to Riverhead residents are a reflection of what he can do in the Legislature.

“The economy and taxes are the biggest issues facing the First Legislative District,” Mr. Walter said. “We have to bring economic growth with balance. The subdivision of EPCAL fits right into that balance because it is the place in the district where we should have economic growth.

“I’ll be able to continue on with my plan there [as Legislator].”

Mr. Walter also said during his campaign his work to preserve farmland on the North Fork and to protect the agri-tourism market fits into the role he would play as a legislator.

When asked why someone from Southold Town would vote for him over a locally elected leader there — one who would serve in the Democratic majority, Mr. Walter said he “would be a loud, outspoken voice for the entire North Fork.”

“I don’t shy away from a battle,” he said.

Mr. Walter said several times during the campaign that he believes the Suffolk County Legislature should be abolished.

“Most of New York State is run by a board of supervisors,” Mr. Walter said. “Only the metropolitan area has the legislature system. I agree with Mr. Krupski on reducing the layers of government. We don’t need the legislature.”

Mr. Walter studied at Sullivan County Community College and the SUNY Binghamton, where he earned a Bachelors degree in Environmental Science, before attending St. John’s Law School.

His prior government experience includes working for the Town of Brookhaven Department of Waste Management,  as the environmental manager for the 106th Rescue Wing of the New York Air National Guard in Westhampton Beach and as a deputy town attorney in Riverhead.

Sean left the Town Attorney’s office in January of 2006 and started a law practice in Wading River. The primary concentration of his practice involves land use as well as real estate, estates and litigation.

A Port Jefferson native, he and his wife Cathleen have lived with their three sons in Wading River since 1992. He is an active member of Riverhead Rotary, the Knights of Columbus and is part of the children’s liturgy team at St. John the Baptist in Wading River, according to his biography on the town’s website.

Read more about Sean Walter

01/15/13 5:58am

Name: Al Krupski

Age: 52

Current Job: Southold Town Councilman

Current Salary: $32,567 (plus $2,000 as deputy supervisor)

Legislative Salary: $93,958

Al Krupski is the Democratic and Working Families candidate to replace Ed Romaine as 1st District Suffolk County Legislator in tonight’s special election.

Mr. Krupski, whose family owns and operates a Peconic pumpkin farm, served as a Town Trustee for 20 years and has now been a Town Board member for eight years. He said the issues he’d face at the county level are similar to those he’s already dealing with as a Southold Town Councilman and Deputy Supervisor.

“In many ways this is the same as the Town Board,” he said. “I understand land preservation, transportation and quality of life issues, plus controlling the size and cost of government. Those are East End issues that should translate well to the rest of the the county.”

If Mr. Krupski were to be elected, county Democrats would have a veto-proof majority in the Legislature. Mr. Krupski pointed out that, as the only Democrat on the Southold Town Board, he had a long history of bipartisan cooperation.

“Once you get elected, you don’t worry about party. You worry about people,” Mr. Krupski said. “I don’t buy into Democrat versus Republican, east versus west. You’re never going to go anywhere in government if you toe the party line.”

“I want to represent the East End,” he said in a debate we sponsored. “I’m not the sort of person who, when something’s broken, you smash it. I like to take it apart, fix it and make it better.”

He also noted during his campaign that he’s be the first Southold Town resident and the first farmer to represent the 1st District in the Legislature.

Born and raised in Peconic, he lives with his wife Mary and three children in Cutchogue. He holds a degree in plant science from the University of Delaware.

He has served on the Peconic Land Trust Board of Directors and is a member of the North Fork Chamber of Commerce.

Read more about Mr. Krupski

01/14/13 8:00am
01/14/2013 8:00 AM

Al Krupski or Sean Walter, we want to know who our readers plan to vote for in Tuesday’s special election for the 1st District seat in the Suffolk County Legislature.

Polling places will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday as Mr. Walter, the Republican Riverhead Town Supervisor, and Mr. Krupski, a Democratic Southold Councilman square off for Ed Romaine’s seat, which he vacated after he was elected Brookhaven Town Supervisor in November.

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

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

01/10/13 8:00am
01/10/2013 8:00 AM

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Southold Town Councilman Al Krupski at a debate hosted by Times/Review Newsgroup Monday night.

Sean Walter has spent the better part of the past six weeks hammering home to residents on the North Fork that his is the type of voice they need in the Suffolk County Legislature, where he’s argued his opponent would be little more than an extra vote for the Democratic super majority.

That opponent, Southold Town Councilman Al Krupski, has run a quiet campaign, knocking on doors and letting his record of bipartisan cooperation and fiscal conservatism speak for itself.

It’s been exactly the race one might expect, reflecting the general nature of each candidate and the communities they represent: the vocal vs. the tranquil, Riverhead vs. Southold.

Style and personality should play a major role in determining who you vote for in Tuesday’s 1st District special election. It is this newspaper’s belief that Mr. Krupski’s calm demeanor and cooperative approach make him better suited to serve out the remaining nine months of former legislator Ed Romaine’s term.

Despite being the lone Democrat on Southold’s Town Board, he’s proven himself an adept conciliatory voice capable of shoving partisan politics aside for the good of his constituency.

Mr. Krupski’s a true fiscal conservative who questions the cost of every plan that involves spending money, consistently asking “is it needed?” and “who will pay for it?”

Mr. Walter has often suggested during this race that he’d be the squeaky wheel that would get the oil the North Fork needs from its county government, but sometimes a squeaky wheel ends up leaving you with little more than a headache. In a legislative body where representatives meld 18 different opinions into one vote, Mr. Krupski’s style could be a better fit.

Perhaps the silliest stunt in Mr. Walter’s otherwise strong campaign was his attempt to portray Mr. Krupski as the type of Democrat who would favor party interests and Western Suffolk ideals over the traditional values of the East End. A champion of open space preservation and an opponent of big-box development, it’s hard to imagine Mr. Krupski abandoning his reputation in the interest of party politics.

If we sense he’s voting for his party over his constituents, though, we’ll be the loudest voice calling for his ouster come November.

Truth is, the North Fork can benefit from a legislator serving in the majority and, despite what Mr. Walter has said during the campaign, he can do more for the people of Riverhead as town supervisor — a role in which he’s been mostly effective — than he can as a county legislator.

Still, Mr. Krupski will need to learn when to turn up the volume if elected, and a good place to start would be in working with his opponent to ensure the Enterprise Park in Calverton realizes its potential as an economic engine and in taking up the cause of ridding the East End of the unfair burden of housing the county’s entire homeless sex offender population.

Mr. Krupski is a good choice for the 1st District seat in the Suffolk County Legislature.

01/09/13 6:42am
01/09/2013 6:42 AM

TIM KELLY PHOTO | 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.

In their advertisements, the candidates vying for the 1st District seat in the Suffolk County Legislature are portrayed as very different men. Republican Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter’s ads show him taking a sledgehammer to downtown Riverhead and vowing to shake up the Legislature. Ads from his Democratic opponent present Al Krupski as a farmer and small businessman with a tireless work ethic.

In front of a packed house at Martha Clara Vineyards, Mr. Walter again vowed change during a Monday night debate sponsored by Times/Review Newsgroup, while Mr. Krupski touted his ability to collaborate effectively with other elected officials.

The January 15 special election is being held to fill the nine months left in the term of former county legislator Ed Romaine, who vacated his post in November after being elected Brookhaven Town supervisor. The 1st District runs west from Southold Town and Shelter Island to Riverhead Town and parts of eastern Brookhaven.

If Mr. Krupski were to be elected, county Democrats would have a veto-proof majority in the Legislature, which Mr. Walter said would be an unhealthy outcome. Mr. Krupski pointed out that, as the only Democrat on the Southold Town Board, he had a long history of bipartisan cooperation.

“Once you get elected, you don’t worry about party. You worry about people,” Mr. Krupski said. “I don’t buy into Democrat versus Republican, east versus west. You’re never going to go anywhere in government if you toe the party line.”

Mr. Walter said politics at higher levels of government don’t work that way.

“I’d love to believe that’s true, but it’s not,” he said, adding that county Democrats have “strings attached” to the $50,000 they’ve invested in Mr. Krupski’s campaign.

“I don’t understand what Mr. Walter is saying,” argued Mr. Krupski. “That certainly hasn’t been my experience in 28 years in government.

Both men counted quality of life as their most important issue, but while Mr. Krupski touted his record on land preservation, clean water and controlling development in Southold, Mr. Walter said quality of life is a balancing act.

Times/Review Executive Editor Grant Parpan, who moderated the one-hour debate, asked the candidates if the district’s legislator should be a member of the Shelter Island Ferry Study Group, a committee Mr. Romaine opted out of.

Mr. Walter said the 1st District legislator should be part of it for the remaining year, at least. Mr. Krupski was unequivocal, saying the county has always been involved in oversight of ferry rate hikes, so it is essential the legislator of whatever district he/she is in sit in on the discussions.

Mr. Parpan noted during the debate that he received several questions from the public about whether the county should play a role in gun control. He asked the candidates to weigh in.

Mr. Walter said he was appalled at politicians’ attempts to politicize gun control in the wake of the December 14 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

“I’m disgusted,” he said. “I’m not answering your question.”

Mr. Krupski said there should be clear leadership from one level of government on the issue.

“If the state is going to take it up, that’s the way it should be,” he said. “There should be only one layer of government taking the lead on that.”

Mr. Parpan asked Mr. Walter if he really believed the county Legislature should be abolished, as he has publicly stated in the past.

“Most of New York State is run by a board of supervisors,” Mr. Walter said. “Only the metropolitan area has the legislature system. I agree with Mr. Krupski on reducing the layers of government. We don’t need the legislature.”

In closing, Mr. Krupski addressed that issue, but with a slightly different view.

“I want to represent the East End,” he said. “I’m not the sort of person who, when something’s broken, you smash it. I like to take it apart, fix it and make it better.”

byoung@timesreview.com

01/07/13 6:45pm
01/07/2013 6:45 PM
Southold Councilman Al Krupski, Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter, Martha Clara Vineyards.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Southold Councilman Al Krupski and Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter at Monday night’s Times/Review-sponsored debate at Martha Clara Vineyards.

Times/Review Newsgroup hosted a legislative debate at Martha Clara Vineyards in Riverhead Monday night, pitting Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter, a Republican, against Southold Councilman Al Krupski, a Democrat.

The candidates are running in a special election, set for Jan. 15, to fill the county’s 1st legislative seat vacated by Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches), who was elected supervisor of Brookhaven Town.

Staff writer Tim Gannon reported live from the meeting. Click the play button in the blog box below to see what happened.