Former Suffolk County Legis. Ed Romaine was sworn in as Brookhaven Town Supervisor on Monday, just in time to lead New York’s geographically largest township as it cleans up after Superstorm Sandy.
Romaine said helping his town’s recovery will be his priority along with dealing with a budget crisis, preserving open space as well as protecting drinking and surface waters. He also plans to launch a task force examining the response to the Oct. 29 superstorm.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in times of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy,” Romaine said during his inaugural speech, quoting Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Romaine, a Republican from Centre Moriches, won a Nov. 6 special election to replace Democrat Mark Lesko, who resigned in September to take a private-sector job leading Accelerate Long Island, a nonprofit group advocating for an “innovation-based economy.” Romaine overtook Democrat Brian Beedenbender, Lesko’s former chief of staff, for the town’s top job.
Romaine’s win symbolizes a GOP comeback for the township once dubbed “Crookhaven” following a series of public corruption scandals a decade ago that prompted a Democratic takeover of the longtime Republican stronghold. He also starts with a 4-2 GOP majority on the town board.
The new supervisor began his career as a school teacher before being elected to the county legislature in the ’80s and his election as county clerk in the ’90s. He returned to the legislature in 2005 after losing to Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, who was then a Democrat.
In a sense, Romaine is carrying on a family legacy by returning to Brookhaven. He now leads the town where his son, Keith, served as councilman before he died at age 36 shortly after winning a second term in 2009.
In some of Romaine’s first comments as town leader, he wasted no time in allaying concerns regarding rebuilding from the storm damage–something the town plays a large role in, given its zoning powers.
“The town will be a partner in the rebuilding process,” he said. “We will not impede reconstruction – we will encourage and foster it. The Building Department will expedite permits for storm-related damage and the staff will help the residents through the process.”