Fresh off his victory in a Nov. 6 special election, in which he carried every one of the town's six council districts, Ed Romaine was sworn into his office as Brookhaven's 70th supervisor on Monday afternoon.
"Today starts a new day in Brookhaven," Romaine said in his address. "A day that marks a new beginning when I begin to fulfill the promises of my campaign to stabilize town finances, reduce debt, eliminate deficit spending, increase transparency and openness in town government, protect and preserve our environment and create jobs."
Town council members lauded Romaine on Monday, saying they are looking forward to a renewed sense of order within town operations.
"Ed Romaine just spoke about, and has a credible record on, environmental preservation, historic preservation and transparency in government," said Steve Fiore-Rosenfeld, D-Setauket. "He's speaking my language. If he executes on what he said today, I'm looking forward to working with him in a non-partisan way to do the people's work."
Jane Bonner, C-R-Rocky Point, said Romaine's inauguration will end the chaos that has characterized recent board meetings, and described him as "a partner in government."
"A town this size needs a supervisor, not an acting supervisor," she said. "We've kind of been a rudderless ship right now. Today starts a new day."
Among his initiatives, Romaine said storm recovery will be top priority; he announced the creation of a task force to better prepare for storms such as Sandy, and to examine "what went right and what went wrong." He pledged to "encourage and foster" reconstruction.
"Hurricane Sandy magnifies the financial pressures on all municipalities as we struggle to balance our budgets with stagnant or shrinking revenues in the face of escalating demands to help our residents recover from the damage inflicted by the storm," he said.
Fiscal health is also a major priority for Romaine. He pledged to end deficit spending; institute zero based budgeting; expand the tax base by creating a welcoming climate for new businesses to come to Brookhaven and for existing businesses to expand; expand the use of information technology; and rebuild town reserve funds that he said former supervisor Mark Lesko depleted by relying on them as a revenue source.
Also among Romaine's upcoming initiatives:
- An "open government portal" will be created to serve as a source of disclosures and information, where resolutions and public hearing agendas will be available 48 hours before board meetings.
- Alternative energy sources will be explored to convert town facilites to systems with the goal of being reliant on them for 30 percent of its energy consumption.
- The Landfill Advisory Committee will be reinstated to help develop new approaches to waste management and to the revenue the landfill currently brings into the town.
Romaine drew attention to the sixth town council district seat – the seat currently occupied by Republican Dan Panico, but which was formerly held by Romaine's son Keith, who died in 2009 at the age of 36.
"I know if he was alive today that he would be standing here and I definitely would not be," Romaine said. "Part of the reason I am here is because of him."
Panico said Romaine's impact will be felt immediately.
"This transcends government and politics," he said. "To see Ed take this office means a hell of a lot. It really, really does. ... There's not a better person in Brookhaven right now for this job than Ed."