Vote 2023: Former prosecutor, veteran politician vie for Suffolk County executive

Voters will be able to hear from both candidates in a live debate at News 12 studios tonight at 7:30 p.m. Watch on News 12 or stream it live on News 12 New York.

News 12 Staff

Oct 22, 2023, 8:26 PM

Updated 172 days ago


The race for Suffolk County executive features a veteran of county and town politics going up against a candidate who's touting his work history in the private sector.
Ed Romaine is a familiar name to many Suffolk residents. The Republican from Center Moriches has been elected to lead the Town of Brookhaven as its supervisor in five straight elections. He's also a former Suffolk County legislator and county clerk. Romaine is vying to replace outgoing County Executive Steve Bellone, who is term limited.
VIDEO: Part I of vote 2023
Romaine is pointing to his experience operating the levers of government as he campaigns for the county's top job.
“We work across party lines to get things done, let's imagine a government that works for all of us,” he said.
VIDEO: Hofstra University Executive Dean of Suburban Studies Larry Levy weighs in ahead of tonight's debate
Democrat Dave Calone, of Setauket, is pointing to his own experience, inside and outside of government. He is an investment firm CEO and former federal and state prosecutor. He's also the former chairman of the Suffolk County Planning Commission.
VIDEO: Extended interview with Dave Calone:
“I have a unique background for being county executive,” he said. “Whether it’s my background as a prosecutor, which we've never had before, or my background from the business sector, which we've never had before.”
Calone says he'll be tough on crime and will invest in new crime fighting tools.
“We need to upgrade the technology that our law enforcement agencies are using, and we need to make sure they are well funded to protect us,” he said.
Romaine says he'll move to quickly fill dozens of law enforcement positions that are currently vacant.
“There are 51 detective positions that everyone’s paying taxes for that have been left vacant,” he said. “The hurts. We need to have those positions filled.”
VIDEO: Extended interview with Ed Romaine:
Both candidates say they won't make Suffolk a sanctuary county, will find ways to make the county more affordable and will protect the environment – including safeguards for drinking water.
“I have always been a strong supporter of the environment and will continue if I have the good fortune of being elected,” said Romaine.
“We are a tipping point here. We're either going to decide we're going to protect our water, or we're not,” said Calone.
This is just the second time in 20 years that there's been a wide-open race for Suffolk County executive – meaning there's no incumbent on the ballot. Bellone won his race 12 years ago. In 2003 it was Democrat Steve Levy who was victorious, defeating his Republican opponent that year – then county clerk Ed Romaine.
Voters will be able to hear from both candidates in a live debate at News 12 studios tonight at 7:30 p.m. Watch on News 12 or stream it live on News 12 New York.

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