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Nominees surfacing for Brookhaven highway superintendent

Officials from both parties showing interest in position

Assemblyman Dan Losquadro, above, Legislator Tom Muratore, below, and Councilwoman Connie Kepert, bottom, are being considered the highway position. File photos
December 13, 2012 | 09:43 AM
Potential nominees from both the Democratic and Republican parties are beginning to surface for the soon-to-be-vacated Brookhaven Town highway superintendent seat.

Highway Superintendent John Rouse was elected as a Suffolk County Court judge in November and is leaving his town position Jan. 1, a year before the end of his term.

The date of a special election to fill the position has not yet been set.

Brookhaven Town Democratic Committee Chairman Marc Alessi said the party is continuing its screening process of potential nominees. He said the three candidates for the nomination are Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Connie Kepert (D-Middle Island); town planning board member and a board member of the Laborers Local 66 Union Peter E. Zarcone; and Kevin Gleason, a Huntington Town Highway Department employee and president of the Eastport-South Manor Board of Education.

Alessi said he doesn't "want just a politician," and that the party is looking for someone with a "high ethical stance."

He said the party's decision could come sometime next week.

Kepert has been the Town Board's liaison to the highway department since she was elected in 2006, which she said makes her "very familiar with the workings of the highway department."

She said she has always been interested in the position because one of her goals as a councilwoman is to improve road conditions, something she thinks she'll be able to do if elected.

Zarcone and Gleason did not immediately return requests for comment.

According to Suffolk County Republican Committee Chairman John Jay LaValle, the two Republicans in the running for the party's nomination are Assemblyman Dan Losquadro (R-Shoreham) and county Legislator Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma).

"They're both great guys," LaValle said in a phone interview on Monday. "We're proud of the work they're doing … and both of them knocked off Democrats to get where they are."

Losquadro defeated Alessi in 2010 to become assemblyman, while Muratore unseated Brian Beedenbender in 2009. Beedenbender, former Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko's chief of staff, lost a bid for town supervisor in November.

"The reality is the two individuals … have obviously [shown] success at the polls and have the ability to get the job done," LaValle said.

The Brookhaven Town Republican Committee will vote on who will receive the party's nomination. Chairman Jesse Garcia did not return calls for comment.

Losquadro, who was re-elected to his second term in the Assembly in November, said he hadn't planned on running for the position until Hurricane Sandy hit in late October.

"I won't say that highway superintendent didn't interest me because it did." However, "if you asked me two months ago, any time even during the election, this was not my intention," he said in a phone interview last week.

The assemblyman said both constituents and other officials asked him to consider the position, which manages approximately 2,100 miles of roadway throughout the town.

He said after the storm "it became very obvious how important that department really was" and how crucial it is to have a strong leader.

Prior to being elected to the Suffolk County Legislature in 2003, Losquadro was a fraudulent claims investigator for State Farm. Earlier in his life, he said, he worked at his father's automotive repair shop and worked in construction during college. He said that experience would help him if he were elected.

Muratore did not return requests for comment.

Losquadro said if he does not receive the party's nomination or if he is not elected, his "passion for the Assembly would not change." He added one of the drawbacks of being superintendent would be leaving a legislative body.

"That is something that I've done for the last nine years and something I think I've done very effectively," he said, adding he loves debating with his colleagues.

The assemblyman said if he receives the party nomination and is elected, he hopes his constituents would understand.

"I am very happy and honored to be the state assemblyman for the 2nd Assembly District," he said. "But given the fact that this [town] seat is open, I really do believe I have the best skill set and experience governmentally" to run the department.

LaValle said although he is hopeful Losquadro or Muratore will win the election, losing either official from their current position would be a "downside."

"They are sitting in office and are doing a great job with what they're doing, but we would have to replace them," he said. "That's tough, but that's a bridge we'll cross when we get there."

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