Suffolk County Legis. Stephanie Bontempi, R-Huntington, who is completing her first two-year term in the 18th district, is running for re-election this year.
The former elementary school teacher immigrated to the United States from Sweden when she was in her 20s and has been a Huntington resident for 30 years. She first ran a successful campaign for a legislative seat in 2021 “to try and leave something better for my children and eventually my grandchildren,” she said.
Bontempi thought that government operations were slow and inefficient, and she aimed to change that. She also wanted to see someone on the legislative body who was an educator and to work on issues such as youth drug abuse and mental health.
After almost two years, Bontempi says she greatly enjoys the work of helping residents and that, though she is proud of her legislative achievements thus far, there is much more she’d like to accomplish.
“I really give 100% to this job,” she said. “I’m in the office everyday. I attend every meeting, I am there full time. I meet with constituents. I am always available.”
Bontempi points to her legislative wins as some of the highlights of her first term. She helped pass term-limit legislation for Suffolk County elected officials, as well as legislation to open up affordable housing for veterans.
And though some local environmentalists may beg to differ, Bontempi says she cares deeply about the environment and points to legislation she helped pass to preserve 220 acres of land in the county.
“The more open space we have, the more we protect our waters and our environment, so that’s huge,” she said. “What I promised during my campaign, I have fulfilled, and that is what I’m very proud of.”
Bontempi’s recent decision to vote “no” on putting the Suffolk County Water Quality Restoration Act up to a vote in November has upset environmental advocates in the region. The act includes two bills that would create a tax for residents to fund clean water septic system replacements and connection of sewer systems.
The legislator’s explanation for voting against this was that there was not enough evidence that the plan was worth taxpayer dollars, she said.
“We all want this to happen, but we have to make sure that the legislation that the voters are going to vote for is sensible,” she said. “There is nothing in the legislation that says that any of the funds would have to go to sewers, so in fact, the funds could all go for these [individual] systems, and we don’t even have the capacity to put in that many per year yet.”
Bontempi said her first priority as legislator in her second term would be to find a solution for clean water and to pass referendum for the Clean Water Act with changes that address sewer systems more directly.
Another important issue to Bontempi is the rollout of legal cannabis, which she says has led to illegal sales to minors. She said she is working on youth drug task forces to alleviate the issue. In addition, she is a strong supporter of law enforcement.
“It’s important to me that we equip and treat our law enforcement with respect,” she said. “There have been ups and downs with how the public views law enforcement, and that is extremely important to me that we make sure we feel safe.”
Bontempi also spoke about the immediate need for affordable housing. She has three children who are young adults, two of whom have moved out of state and say they cannot afford to live on Long Island.
“You want to be smart about it, and put it close to a train station and put it where the transportation and infrastructure to support it,” she said. “As a county as a whole, we are looking to put more affordable housing in the county.”
Bontempi previously worked at the Cold Spring Harbor Central School District’s East Woods School in Oyster Bay and most recently at The Green Vale School in Old Brookville, where she was employed for 15 years before joining the Suffolk legislature.
Bontempi’s Democratic opponent is Dr. Eve Meltzer Krief, a pediatrician and school board member for the Harborfield School District. Her profile is scheduled for later today.