Andre Sorrentino hopes to unseat incumbent Kevin Orelli by getting elected Tuesday as Huntington highway superintendent. He has plans to boost morale and make several changes to the Highway Department.
Asked about the quality of the roads in Huntington, he said, “I won’t be that guy that does paving at election-time only.” According to Sorrentino, in order to improve the roads throughout the town, “Everybody should work together; the county, the state, and the town.”
Sorrentino feels that in-house work can be done to save taxpayers money. While he acknowledges this cannot be done with large roads, Sorrentino feels that small residential streets such as David Court in Huntington Station, can be done by his team, in-house. “I know that the paving equipment that we have is small, but to do an area like that would be just fine…” He said. When it comes to prioritizing residential roadwork, he said, “Safety is the biggest part. If I go to a road that wasn’t on a list, and it’s unsafe,” Sorrentino stated, “…it’s getting addressed.”
In regard to allocating funds for the Highway Department, Sorrentino believes that a professional grant writer would also be helpful. He feels he has demonstrated his ability as director of General Services for the town. “I’m gonna go to every board meeting, and try and allocate for more money for my department,” he said.
Sorrentino said that the Highway Department needs exactly what General Services needed before he got there; team morale. “I believe it’s at an all- time low.” “I’ll work alongside you.” He added, “I’ll never tell someone to do something that I wouldn’t do myself.”
According to Sorrentino, when it comes to working for the town of Huntington, hard work is often overlooked. He said that many temporary workers are brought back a range of 3 to 10 summers in a row, but are never offered a permanent position. “These men and women haven’t been given the opportunity to prove how great they are, and how much they can do if you just give them a chance.” He feels that anyone who has proven themselves for 3 to 4 years as a temporary employee should be offered a job if selected to come back. “I believe in people, not politics,” Sorrentino said.
When asked if changing weather could be affecting the roads, Sorrentino noted that floods are partially responsible for the damage. He explained how there used to be a program ensuring routine maintenance of storm drains and catch basins. Sorrentino feels that cleaning them should be regimented; and plans to assemble a team to do the job. He also plans to add new drainage.
In addition to the damage caused by floods, Sorrentino claims that salt is also responsible. He said, “I know they used to use something called a 50/50 mix, which is sand and salt together. It’s a much better cleanup with salt, I agree, but the problem is, it just abuses the roads.” Although the mix would be more to clean up, he said, “We always had a sweeping program that was perfect. The sweepers went out 3 times a year…” He said, “At the end of the day, the sweepers will clean up that sand.” Sorrentino added that the sweepers would not only be removing sand, but also garbage, paper and other debris.
When asked why he is running for the position, Sorrentino said he has always been involved with the Highway Department. He said, “I’ve been an outside contractor for the highway department since I was 17, 18 years old; I’ve been involved some way, some shape or form.” He said, “I’ve basically been training for this position my whole life.”
Sorrentino discussed other changes that he would bring as superintendent. Regarding working with other departments he said, “I will always work together as one.”
Sorrentino plans to rid the Highway Department of the “old, retired military equipment.” He would remove all of the snow plowing equipment from those trucks, and place it on “…the garbage trucks that are sitting idle during snowstorms.”
Sorrentino said that these “Desert Storm” military vehicles were purchased by “Mr. Orelli’s deputy,” with the budget. He said, “I would say to outfit them, to make them work in the snow; they’re probably 20 to 30 thousand a piece; 20 thousand a piece to outfit them with snowplows.” Sorrentino added, “…you don’t take a military truck that’s made for the desert and plow snow with it.” He joked, “I would have taken that money, and put it back into some of these trucks that are falling apart. When they’re going down the road it looks like the Flintstones cars.”
Sorrentino said he has been working with heavy equipment since he was young, has owned a street sweeping business, and has been involved with cesspools, drainage, and paving. He also mentioned that he ran his own green yard waste facility. “Every aspect of the highway department, I’ve done; and that’s why I’d like to get elected.”
When asked what he can promise the people of Huntington, he promised to keep roads safe by providing “more maintenance than what we’ve seen in the past 3 and a half years.” He said, “I’ll always work alongside them.” Sorrentino promises to fight for more funding, and to deal with the town board on a regular basis. “I will be there every single day. I enjoy being part of my town; helping people. If I can help one person a day, I feel like I did something.”