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Lesko: I Won't Seek Public Office Again

Says he has "no plans for politics in the future."

A day after resigning as Brookhaven Town supervisor to take the executive director position at Accelerate Long Island, Mark Lesko said he has "no plans for politics in the future."

"I think it's an incredibly important mission at Accelerate. I’m not looking past that," he told Patch on Thursday. 

With Lesko stepping down, Deputy Supervisor Kathy Walsh, who ran unopposed for her town council seat in Nov. with backing from Republicans and Democrats, will serve as acting supervisor until a special election this November.

"Kathy is a pro and will handle the town ably," said Lesko, adding that Brookhaven residents won't see any changes in services or day-to-day operations in the town.

While his resignation is effective Sept. 14, Lesko said he will still submit a budget proposal for the town board to consider. "I feel responsible for that," he added.

Jesse Garcia, chairman of the Brookhaven Republican Party, called Lesko's resignation "the ultimate act of cowardice" in a statement on Wednesday. But the outgoing supervisor remained positive, saying that his new position will allow him to become a regional leader.

"I firmly believe in my core that this could change and alter the face of Long Island for the better, and that’s going to benefit everybody," he said. "It’s all just about an opportunity. I can’t pick the timing. It’s not of my choosing."

Lesko dismissed the idea that his departure so quickly after his would be viewed negatively by the electorate, saying "elected officials leave office all the time."

"I’m leaving to join a nonprofit that is focused on creating jobs on Long Island, which is a top priority," he said. "I think people would understand this is a tremendous opportunity to serve the residents of Long Island across the region."

Lesko's predecessor, Brian X. Foley, who was the first Democrat in more than 30 years to be elected as Brookhaven supervisor, also resigned from the job not long after being re-elected to a second term. Foley, who won a second term as supervisor in 2007, was elected to the New York State Senate in November of 2008. Lesko was elected to replace Foley in a special election in March of 2009, then was re-elected in November of 2009 and in 2011.

"When people look back at what we’ve done in almost four years in the town I think they’re going to think we brought integrity back," he said. "I think historically that had not always been the case in the township."

Lesko, who earned a salary of $112,699 as supervisor, declined to disclose his new executive director's paycheck.

He also declined to name a specific candidate he thought should take his place, saying it's an issue best left to the party leaders to debate.

On Wednesday, Suffolk Democratic party chairman Richard Schaffer told Patch that possible candidates could include Brian Beedenbender, Lesko’s current chief of staff and a former county legislator; ; and current Town Clerk Patricia Eddington.

The decision to step down was made quickly, Lesko said, after the board of Accelerate Long Island conducted a six-month nationwide search for an executive director. He said he met with its hiring committee on Tuesday night, then talked it over with his wife, Karen.

He was formally offered the position at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, and by 3 p.m. he had made his decision to step down from Brookhaven's top post.

"I’ve had a great time in Brookhaven," he said. "I’ve really loved the job. It was a really challenging job but I like challenges. It’s really democracy in action in the Town of Brookhaven."

Paul Hart August 16, 2012 at 09:25 PM
Gonna miss him.
Jamie August 17, 2012 at 03:10 AM
Integrity?? That is finishing what you started and showing respect for those that elected you. I can only speak for my neighborhood but you screwed us over and didn't even care! I stupidly supported you but NEVER again. You lied and deceived my neighborhood on more than one occasion. Integrity would not be a word that I ever used to describe you!
lara buscatelli August 17, 2012 at 03:17 AM
It depends on your definition of integrity? What if you start something and realize as time goes on that it is immoral or those you deal with are immoral, do you finish what you started? Then, an opportunity arises, originally your own vision, and you can lead it to inception? Do you?
Justin Time August 17, 2012 at 10:53 AM
I dont blame him, he got a better offer and went for it! Since when do politicians have "morality"? They wouldnt get into office if they were "pure"
Donna D August 17, 2012 at 11:44 AM
Money talks.. he was offered a lot of money and took it. I don't know anyone who would pass up the opportunity to make a lot more money these days. I know I would. Good luck Lesko.. and let's hope this doesn't open the door for the old regime to get back into power... that is the real worry here..
Joseph Adriano August 17, 2012 at 12:33 PM
Sorry but when you choose to run for pubic office you are not signing up for a lucrative position in the private sector. He knew what he was getting into financially. I'm not buying that this is just about the salary. There's much more to this story. He should be sticking out his term.
Archie Bunker August 17, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Mark Lesko said he has "no plans for politics in the future". No problem, Mr Lesko. You'll NEVER get my vote. You got a better offer and quit, it doesn't matter that you had a commitment with the voters who elected.
crookhaven August 17, 2012 at 10:18 PM
depends on what your definition of is, is!!!! another clinton like double talk dribble. he's a quitter, no integrity!!!!!
crookhaven August 17, 2012 at 10:19 PM
he's leaving because he lied about how much he'd save firing the park rangers!!!!! bye bye quitter!!!!!!
crookhaven August 17, 2012 at 10:21 PM
u mean like kathy walsh and her drug family now in charge of the town??
Richard Kemp September 08, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Mark Lesko; Great guy when it comes to Rescuing some 200+ Animals from an Illegal Shelter run out of a private home at 65 Park St. Yaphank on June 9,2010 But what has occurred in the past 2+ Years,a boarded up house with no evidence of any clean up at all Weeds 4-5' tall ,open windows for months at a time,a bay window center panel !! True according to documents obtained there was a 2 day clean up of sorts in the fall of 2010 or 2011.The whole place was a nightmare and a bombshell waiting to go off,and who gets affected my Wife while visiting a neighbor who lives at 71 Park St.adjacent property to the East. My Wife now has Lyme Disease Thanks alot Lesko you should leave in shame. The Owner Debra Miller it appears never returned to the house and is now in Warrant Status!!!!! She is probally counting all the money she must have raked in over the years from her shelter that was connected to New York City !!!!!!!!!!!!!! Good Bye Mark Lesko
marcie October 30, 2012 at 01:57 PM
So when Sarah Palin left her governorship in Alaska because she could make more money in public speaking, that was a lack of integrity? I thought so! People in public office have a responsibility to complete their office. I think they do but if they have decided not to, it is their business but the consequences are, it will be harder to get elected again. Mark Lesko, doesn't want to run for office so this won't effect him.
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