Editor's note: A previous version of this story did not contain information about the Republican primary on Sept. 13.
Election Day is approaching, and in Brookhaven, races for most of the major roles on the Town Board are taking shape.
Both Jesse Garcia, chairman of the Brookhaven Republicans, and Marc Alessi, chairman of the Brookhaven Town Democratic Committee, are optimistic about their parties' lineup of candidates. Garcia said in a recent interview that he feels Republican gains in last November's elections will lend a boost to this year's races.
"We have great momentum," Garcia said. "We have fantastic, qualified candidates that can articulate our plan to protect the taxpayers and Brookhaven’s future."
Two incumbents – tax receiver Lou Marcoccia and Third District councilwoman Kathy Walsh, both Republicans – have been cross endorsed and will be running unopposed.
"Really we’re putting our actions where our mouth is. Everybody wants bipartisanship," Alessi said in an interview Thursday. "And at the end of the day when you have two elected officials that are doing a great job and are the best person for the job, you should give them a chance."
Town Clerk Patricia Eddington and Highway Superintendent John Rouse's posts won't be up for re-election for another two years, but beyond these four positions, the town council could potentially see new faces after Election Day.
Cecile Forte (R) challenges Mark Lesko (D)
Forte, Brookhaven's deputy planning board chairperson, has a background in education – in particular developmental education and school accreditation – and has served as central academic dean for Suffolk Community College. She has also worked in the private sector as a consultant for both public and private schools. Lesko, the incumbent supervisor, was elected in a March 2009 special election and again in November of 2009, and is a former federal prosecutor for the U.S. Department of Justice. In the past, he has supported a property tax cap and a debt management cap and formed a bipartisan coalition of town leaders.
First Council District
Ed Munoz (R) challenges Steve Fiore-Rosenfeld (D)
Fiore-Rosenfeld was first elected in November of 2003, and has since introduced measures in support of reforming town government and preserving the environment. Munoz is a first-time candidate who is a former New York City Police officer with a background in community service.
Second Council District
Marie Berkoski (D) challenges Jane Bonner (C/R) or Ray Negron (R)
Bonner was elected to the board in 2007, and is a past president of the Rocky Point Civic Association. , a former prosecutor for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, is running a Republican Primary against the incumbent Bonner on Sept. 13. Berkoski works in economic development for Suffolk County, where she frequently works with small businesses.
Fourth Council District
Rick Cunha (R) challenges Connie Kepert (D)
The race between these same two candidates was decided by 665 votes in 2009, with Keepert grabbing 53.3 percent of voters. Cunha will once again challenge Kepert, who was originally elected to the council in 2005.
Fifth Council District
Tom Cavanaugh challenges Tim Mazzei (R)
Mazzei was elected in June of 2003 and is an attorney who for almost a decade worked as an assistant district attorney with the Suffolk County District Attorney's office. Cavanagh is a former educator who currently works for the Suffolk County Board of Elections, and has been nicknamed by some the "unofficial mayor" of Blue Point.
Sixth Council District
Susan Gonzalez challenges Dan Panico (R)
Panico, a self-described fiscal conservative who also has an eye for quality-of-life issues, was elected in March of 2010 in a special town election. Gonzalez is a civic-minded lifelong resident of the district who has a number of issues she'd like to see addressed within the district.
Be sure to follow Patch for more detailed coverage in coming weeks as Election Day approaches.