Suffolk County Treasurer Angie Carpenter became the first to officially declare her candidacy in the county executive’s race upon announcing Wednesday that she is seeking the Republican nomination.
Carpenter hopes to replace County Executive Steve Levy, a Democrat-turned-Republican who announced Thursday that he will not seek a third term in November amid “questions” regarding his campaign fundraising, which forced him to forfeit his $4 million war chest to the district attorney. With no incumbent, the field of candidates is wide open.
“We have a lot of problems here in Suffolk County,” Carpenter told a crowd of roughly 100 supporters at the Le Grange Inn in West Islip. “The county is heading in a direction that isn’t sustainable into the future. There are issues. There are concerns. They can be solved, but you have to have the right leadership.”
Despite the Levy scandal, Carpenter remains confident in her party.
“Mr. Levy wasn’t a Republican for very, very long,” she said. “But I don’t think this is a Republican issue or Democratic issue. I think it’s an issue of the people’s faith in government having to be restored.”
Carpenter is not the only member of the GOP who has expressed interest in running. Republicans who have considered running include state Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport), Assemb. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-St. James), county Comptroller Joseph Sawicki and Legis. Ed Romaine (R-East Moriches).
The Suffolk County Republican Party is expected to nominate a candidate at its May 25 convention. The nominee will likely face Brookhaven Town Supervisor Steve Bellone, presumed Democratic candidate, barring any primary challenges.
Suffolk County Republican Chairman John Jay LaValle said Carpenter is “being very seriously considered.” He said other potential candidates include Randy Altschuler, who narrowly lost a bid to unseat Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) in the fall, and Michael Russell, a former SUNY trustee and chief of staff to the late state Sen. Ralph Marino, the former majority leader.
For supporter Rosalie Heimmer, who attended the campaign kick-off, Carpenter is exactly what the county needs.
“We need a stable government. We don’t need any more corruption and I think that’s a main focus of what we have to look at today,” said Heimmer, an East Moriches resident and member of the Suffolk County Republican Women. “It’s about time.”
Carpenter emphasized her experience in government and business as qualifications for county executive.
She founded a monthly newspaper in her hometown of West Islip in 1986, served in the Suffolk County Legislature for 12 years and has spent the last five and 1/2 years as county treasurer, dealing with “finances on a daily business.”
Her chief concerns include maintaining low county taxes, luring businesses to relocate to Suffolk and retaining current businesses.
“I know firsthand the pressures that confront our great county,” she said. “I am fighting to make Suffolk County a great place to live, not leave. That will never change.”
-With Timothy Bolger