A special election to replace Jon Schneider as the chairman of the Brookhaven Democratic Committee is expected to be announced soon, and one of the candidates for the position is a familiar face in Long Island politics.
Former state assemblyman Marc Alessi, who lost his bid for re-election in the First Assembly District race in November to his Republican challenger, then-county legislator Dan Losquadro, has thrown his name into the hat.
"I think people are hopeful that I will be able to grow the committee and make it stronger and more efficient, and that's my goal," Alessi said in an interview earlier this week. "I feel this groundswell happening. I'm hoping we can unite the party as a result of this process."
He previously worked on the campaigns for several prominent Democrats, including former Nassau County executive Tom Suozzi, Eliot Spitzer's comptroller bid, and even Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, back before he switched parties.
Alessi, a Shoreham resident, will be running against Farmingville resident Doug Segall. Segall is a Democrat who joined the Republican party for 17 years before formally returning to the Democratic party in 2008.
"I think he's very talented," Alessi said of Segall. "He's a good friend. I think that he's an asset to the party."
Segall, a member of the American Association of Political Consultants, said he has been involved in some capacity in every major Suffolk County race since 1989. Professionally, he works in sales and management for his wife's company, Holbrook-based Perception Imaging, and feels his background in management and technology makes him an ideal candidate for the committee's chairmanship.
"Either way, no matter what happens, the Democrats in Brookhaven will have very, very strong leadership," Segall said.
Schneider, whose last day was Jan. 31, to help Suffolk County Democratic Committee chairman Rich Schaffer focus on the 2011 county executive race. The Brookhaven Democratic Committee has 30 days from that point to call a convention and choose a new leader. As the previous vice chair of the committee, Setauket resident Jane Corrarino is now the committee's interim chair until that point, but has elected not to pursue the top spot.
Local Groundhog: Six More Weeks of Winter
Holtsville Hal emerged from his burrow at the Holtsville Ecology Center on Wednesday morning and saw his shadow, disappointing many who have shown their support for the early arrival of spring.
“A prediction of six more weeks of winter is not what we were looking forward to from ‘Holtsville Hal,’” town supervisor Mark Lesko said. “Our hope is that we can get through it without any more major snow storms.”
Highway superintendent John Rouse issued a statement disagreeing with Hal's prediction.
“By March 1, we’ll be planting our gardens and the winter will be past us," Rouse said. "I think everyone has had enough of the snow.”
Hal's forecast came in contrast to predictions made by two of his colleagues, Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania and Staten Island Chuck, who both called it in favor of an early spring.
Town Animal Shelter to Offer Free Adoptions
Residents looking to adopt a pet from the Brookhaven Animal Shelter can save $65 in adoption fees during a special adoption event next weekend. Shelter director Dori Scofield said Wednesday the shelter will be offering free adoptions on Feb. 12 and Feb. 13. The shelter has more than 300 cats and dogs available for adoption.
"We always have a lot of pit bulls," Scofield said. "We have purebreds, small dogs, big dogs, all kinds of animals."
The town ran a similar program in December, during which about 100 pets found new homes. The free adoptions are subsidized by the Help the Animals Fund, a nonprofit set up specifically to benefit the animals at the Brookhaven shelter, so the shelter itself does not lose money on the cost of vaccinations and spaying and neutering. Scofield said the organization is supported through private donations and grants.
Not included in the free adoption deal is a $10 charge for a microchip, $7 for a pet license, and $15 for optional tests, such as a heartworm test.
Town-Funded Roundabout Coming to Five Corners
The intersection of Hawkins Avenue, Smith Road and Gatelot Avenue in Ronkonkoma, known as Five Corners, will be the site of a new town-funded roundabout which Brookhaven officials hope will calm the traffic in that area.
A bond resolution was unanimously passed Jan. 25 to fund the project, which will be the first roundabout installed by the Town of Brookhaven. The Village of Patchogue is already home to a traffic roundabout on Waverly Avenue. Town spokesman Jack Krieger said the next steps in the Five Corners project include surveying the area, designing the traffic circle, holding public meetings, and soliciting bids before construction can begin in the fall.
According to town data, the Five Corners intersection saw four times the statewide average for accidents at similar intersections between July 2007 and July 2009.
While plans for another roundabout at Whiskey Road and Miller Place-Yaphank Road in Middle Island are in the works, Krieger said a 2009 proposal for two roundabouts in the Three Village area has not moved forward.
"Roundabouts are documented as reducing crashes (especially injury and fatal statistics) as well as increasing traffic flow and reducing congestion at intersections," Krieger said in an e-mail. "Roundabouts also increase pedestrian safety and can be designed as gateways or showcases for communities."