Suffolk Dems officially tap Bellone for County Executive

Babylon Town Supervisor Steve Bellone was officially named the Suffolk County Democrats’ candidate for County Executive at a nomination convention Wednesday.

Mr. Bellone’s delivered the following acceptance speech to the Democrats in attendance:

“Let me get straight to the point: I am honored to accept the nomination of the Democratic Party for Suffolk County Executive.”

“We have no time to spare to protect taxpayers. Our county government is in terrible condition and our region faces challenges that threaten our long-term prospects.”

“While these challenges demand real leadership we have been given government by press release. The triumph of rhetoric over substance; the politics of fear and division for self-promotion.”

“Is it any wonder then that we continue to lose our best and brightest young people, that taxes have continued to soar, that we lack the diversity of housing necessary to be competitive and that we have failed to create enough high paying jobs.”

“We have been misled in this County in many ways.  Despite being told by the present County Executive that our finances in this county were good, we now know that we have a $180 million structural deficit, larger than Nassau County’s. We have been told over and over again that our County General Fund Tax — a tiny portion of our tax bill— has been frozen for the past seven years, but the fact that our debt has doubled in the past 8 years has never made it into one of the County Executive’s many press releases.”

“I have kept faith with the people of Babylon by fulfilling my pledge to always go to the taxpayer last. My record in Babylon is clear: we have kept taxes low and delivered a 4.2 million dollar tax cut in 2011. We’ve reduced debt every single year. And we are not doing less today, we are doing more than ever because we have made government more efficient and productive.”

“We’ve cut taxes and eliminated red tape to attract thousands of new jobs in Babylon by being responsive to the needs of businesses.”

“We’ve completely revitalized our Parks System.  I believe in parks and open spaces not just as recreational assets but as economic development tools. People want to live in communities with great parks and public spaces.  We have built some really unique and beautiful parks in Babylon. And you know how I know this works because every time we have built one of these great parks local realtors say thank you and tell me that the first thing they do when they show a house in the neighborhood is they take them to the park. That means more people want to stay in your community and more people want to move which means higher property values for everyone.”

“Any of you who have driven through our town this spring may have noticed the flowers of Babylon.  We have planted over two million tulip and daffodil bulbs in the last five years in our parks and on our roadways.  You know, the value we place on living in a community is made up of intangibles.  I believe how our community looks is one of those important intangibles that makes you feel good about where you live.  Those intangibles not only lead to a greater sense of pride in the places we call home but higher property values for all.”

“As an Army veteran, I believe in the importance of recognizing those who have served — and who continue to serve — our nation. That’s why I’ve helped raise over 500,000 dollars for wounded soldiers, helped create a down payment assistance program for veterans, and worked to provide job training programs for veterans to help them get to work when they come home.”

“We’ve done important and innovative work on the environment.  In 2006 we became the first town on LI, in partnership with the Town of Brookhaven to adopt Energy Star standards for new home construction.  Later that year we adopted the most comprehensive green building program in the nation requiring all new buildings — both public and private — be LEED Certified.  So we had covered new homes and new buildings but when we completed a comprehensive climate inventory we found that by far the biggest source of energy use was our existing single-family homes.  So we knew if we were going to have a real impact we were going to have to figure out how to get at those existing single-family homes.  We created the LI Green Homes program where we addressed all of the hurdles preventing people from making their homes energy efficient.  It turns out that this was the first energy efficiency PACE program in the country.  Sir Richard Branson, you know the guy from Virgin airways who likes to jump out of airplanes and shoot rockets into space, he started this thing called the carbon war room and he invited 15 international cities to collaborate on climate change issues.  The list included Sydney, Copenhagen, Vancouver, London, New York, San Francisco, Babylon… Now have you ever seen that thing on Sesame Street, which one of these does not belong.”

“We’re on that list, this working class town called Babylon, because we try to do what makes sense.  It’s not ideological, it’s not partisan, it’s about solving problems.  And while we have done these things because we care about our environment, we understand that the things we do have to make economic sense as well.   Back in 2005 and 2006 we saw that rising energy prices were here to stay – that the era of cheap energy in our world was over – and we understood that in that environment the communities that have a greener housing stock and a greener building stock would have a competitive advantage over the long term.  At the end of the day our work here must not solely be about the here and now – we cannot just consume without regard to our kids and grandkids.  We have an obligation to lay the groundwork for long-term prosperity for future generations.”

“And to that point specifically, we have focused on revitalizing the most economically distressed community on Long Island with a project called Wyandanch Rising. I have a fundamental belief that we as a country can no longer afford to let communities like Wyandanch lay fallow, a massive waste of human resources and land resources that absorb a huge amount of social service dollars and criminal justice resources.  The competitive global economy today necessitates that we do everything we can to help all of our citizes achieve their maximum potential.”

“We have been working on this Wyandanch project for 10 years, which highlights an important point.  One of the things I hate about our politics today is the focus on short-term thinking.  What is going to help me in the next two years or the next election cycle.  Let me tell you something, nothing important happens in a year or two.  Real change requires dedication, perseverance and a willingness to invest your energy and resources into things that may not bear fruit, politically or otherwise for years down the line.  We have done long term planning in Babylon and I will bring that approach to Suffolk County when I take office as County Executive next January.”

“One of the things my dad taught me is that a wise man listens to other people.  I have to admit something to you, I know that I don’t know most things.  Some might consider that an admission of weakness, I happen to consider it one of my greatest strengths.  I not only want to listen to people i need to listen to people.  I can tell you this though — I am a fast learner.”

“I am looking forward to the challenge ahead.  I look forward to working with Bill Lindsay and the County Legislature and I am looking forward to working with all of you on this campaign and beyond.  It is time that we put a Democrat back in the County Executive’s office.  I am ready for the challenge, confident that I am not in this alone but that I have all of you and countless others across our county who are ready for real change.”