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.”
One Reply to “Sorrentino Looking to Claim Highway Superintendent Post”
Andre states that He will make changes then continues with “I won’t be that guy that does paving at election time only”. I must take exception to the inference that might be drawn suggesting that is what is happening this year. I have paved every road that I could with the money I received each and every year that I have been Highway Superintendent.
He also states that “Everybody should work together; the County the State and the Town” I assure you we already do work closely together a recent example is the very large tree taken down alongside the Huntington Rural Cemetery on route 110 in the village as well as us doing sweeping for them in return for equipment supplied to us and the cleanup of snow in the village which the state reimburses us for. Andre also states that we can save the taxpayers money by doing in house paving. While we already do pave some of our smaller roads with our own people and equipment it does not save us money and we only do it when it is not practical to have our outside contractor do it but it becomes necessary to be done. we must buy our asphalt material from an outside source which is the largest part of the cost of paving. while we do 100 plus tons in a day our outside contractor is doing 1800 tons. Take out the cost of the asphalt and it costs us at least three times as much to do it in house. Andre states that he will hire a professional grant writer. There is no such position right now so that would mean adding a position to our budget. There are no grants available for paving. We have received grants for 2 hot boxes 2 years ago and have not yet received the money. Applying for grants is not a plan to finance our road paving. Andre states that he will go to every board meeting to get money as if the Town Board could go into the basement and print him up 5 million dollars. All money for the highway department aside from the money we receive from NYS for paving comes from the highway fund which comes from the Highway Tax that people pay with their yearly property tax. There is no other money. Once a year the budget is established for the next year by the Supervisor. Once the budget is established there is no more money for the Highway Department. Andre talks about morale being low but many of the highway personnel are actively supporting me. One of Andre’s fans and a critic of me is someone who was fired after threatening a fellow employee. Many of his political friends are disparaging me for party loyalty and some feel they were deserving of a promotion that they did not get. Others love their jobs and love working under my stewardship. Andre said everybody who works hard deserves to be hired. i agree but we cannot hire anyone until either someone leaves or the town board creates addition positions.
Andre states that their used to be a program for regular maintenance of our drainage structures and that he would assemble a team to do that. We already have a program and it was me who bought the first Vacuum Truck for the highway department to properly clean our drainage structures. Most glaring of all the inaccuracies in Andre’s statement is the notion that sand and salt mix is better for our roads.
In 2018 we placed over 10,000 tons of sand on our streets. It ends up in our catch basins and our storm sewers and builds up on our roads making for dangerous driving and filthy streets. In 2018 we had to dedicate so much time to cleaning up the sand that we could not pave a single street with our own men because they were all tied up doing sweeping. The street sweepings then have to be disposed of adding to the expense. Andre states that the salt is bad for our roads but New York State DOT states otherwise as well as the Cornell Local Roads Program for snow and ice control which clearly states that straight salt is the most cost effective way to treat our roads and does no harm to our asphalt. Andre criticizes our purchase of government surplus vehicles. These are low milage vehicles that are in practically new condition that we buy for 5% of their value. These trucks have already proven their worth. Andre states that he is versed in all aspects of the Highway Department when in actuality he has only driven a truck. He has no basic knowledge of storm drainage installation or road paving. He has relied on me to solve some basic drainage issues like a clogged pipe. He hasn’t been able to to get his parking lots repaired in the last 4 years but he claims that he will fix our roads. He has no record to brag about.
Superintendent of Highways