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Back to Work After Election Day, As Parties Consider Romaine Successor

Soon-to-be-open seat in Suffolk's First Legislative District could offer opportunity to several Republicans while one Democrat is at the top of the list.

Following Suffolk County Legislator Ed Romaine's win on Tuesday night, earning him the seat as Brookhaven Supervisor with a win over Democrat Brian Beedenbender, the next question in the local political game becomes who will run to fill the soon-to-be-vacant First Legislative District seat.

But less than 48 hours after the race concluded, the short list to fill Romaine's shoes remains in flux, with a number of potential – and mostly unnamed – Republicans lining up to fill the seat, and one Democrat eyed by county leaders who is considering the recent offer to seek higher office.

On Election Night Rich Schaffer, the chairman of the County Democratic Committee who also won big in his bid to complete County Exec Steve Bellone's term as Babylon Town Supervisor, mentioned Southold Town Councilman Al Krupski as one person he'd like to see in the county legislature.

"Al has a great track record as a candidate. He has great crossover appeal and people respect him. He calls it like he sees it," Schaffer said.

Krupski, a former Town Trustee who runs Krupski's Vegetable and Pumpkin Farm, wouldn't say much more on Wednesday other than that he's considering the offer.

“I have been talking to Rich about it, and right now I just need details about everything — the job and the special election and all that,” Krupski said. “And of course I have to talk to my family and weigh all my options and see how it goes. It’s not like I’ve been lobbying for this for years – Ed did a great job and he has very big shoes to fill – it’s just too early right now for me to say yes or no to the opportunity.”

With a full slate of Republicans on the Riverhead Town Board, and everyone except Krupski on the Southold Town Board a member of the GOP, there remain several options for filling Romaine's shoes on the Republican side.

County Republican Committee Chairman John Jay LaValle said he could see the committee screening a half dozen candidates for the role. Party chairs comprising the First Legislative District – from Shelter Island, Southold, Riverhead and Brookhaven – would likely meet next week, LaValle said, to first discuss who their options are.

LaValle, as well as Brookhaven Chairman Jesse Garcia and Riverhead Chairman John Galla, did not say who was on the short list at the moment, though Galla hinted that someone who isn't quite a newcomer to politics but isn't in office – "someone on the edges, we'll say" – had expressed interest to him in running. 

Southold Chairman Denis Noncarrow said he hadn't heard of anyone who had expressed interest in the job either – just that Southold Supervisor Scott Russell is one name he had heard would be a good replacement.

Russell said on Thursday, "I gotta tell you, I'm pretty invested in the position I have. But I have to talk to my leadership, so I'm not going to comment on it right now."

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said he's interested in holding onto the position he currently holds as well.

Bill Faulk, who has worked as Romaine's office since his election in 2005, has stated publicly his interest in filling the seat. Faulk has worked in county government for over a decade, starting as an intern in former County Executive Bob Gaffney's office and later with the office of Presiding Officer Joe Caracappa before working as a legislative aide with Romaine most recently.

Faulk, a Manorville resident who has a master's degree in public policy from Stony Brook University, said that his biggest priorities would be keeping the Peconic Estuary clean and keeping taxes low.

Riverhead Town Councilman John Dunleavy also confirmed on Thursday that he's thrown his hat into the ring as well, having told Galla he's interesed in the job. Dunleavy, a longtime Riverhead police officer who worked in finance after retiring in the late 1980s, was first elected to the Riverhead Town Board in 2005.

A special election to fill Romaine's seat would likely be held sometime in January or February.

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