Candidates in the Spotlight at NAACP Forum

Fourteen aspirants for local or county elected positions took to the stage Thursday night as the Huntington NAACP hosted a candidates forum.

Each candidate had a chance to pitch their candidacy at the crowded forum at the South Huntington Public Library before questions from the audience were presented.

Questions included red-light cameras, diversity in hiring for government jobs, loitering, and flavored e-cigarettes. 

Republican John Kennedy, county comptroller and candidate for Suffolk County Executive, warned of fiscal problems that he said had to be addressed now, and warned that county workers were being expected to do too much with fewer resources. “Suffolk County is woefully understaffed, with too much management, not enough boots on the ground.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone didn’t participate in the forum.

County legislators Tom Donnelly and Susan Berland and candidates Hector Gavilla and Garrett Chelius, disagreed on county red-light camera program. Chelius described the program as a money grab, while Gavila, who has opposed the program for years, said it harmed low and middle income residents because of their location in western Suffolk County, was ineffective and too costly for drivers. Donnelly and Berland challenged those views, and defended the cameras as a public safety measure.

Candidates Patrick Deegan, a Libertarian, Kathleen Cleary, a Democrat, and Andre Sorrentino, a Republican, are vying for two spots on the Town Board, while incumbents Gene Cook and Joan Cergol are seeking re-election. The status of the Huntington Opportunity Resource Center, the presence of day laborers who congregate in the Five Corners area and hiring for town jobs were discussed.

Assemblyman Andrew Raia and Democrat Simon Saks outlined their credentials and government experience in seeking to become town clerk, a job held by Raia’s mother, Jo-Ann Raia, who is retiring. 

Stacy Colamussi, deputy town clerk and records administrator, is challenging Receiver of Taxes Jillian Guthman for the tax job. They debated the efficiency of the receiver’s office, and both cited their work in government as qualifications for the job. 

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