After six years serving the Suffolk County Legislature as the presiding officer, Legis. DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) stepped down, accepting a position on the Town of Babylon board. To replace him, the Legislature voted on Thursday, Jan. 2 for the deputy presiding officer, Legis. Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue).
His predecessor, Gregory, held the position the second longest in county history; former Legis. William Lindsay served as the presiding officer for a total of eight years.
“I loved every minute, but it’s time to move on,” said Gregory, referencing his step down. “It will be bittersweet leaving the county; it has been my greatest privilege.”
Also during the first organizational meeting of the year, all 18 legislators were sworn in, including newcomer Legis. Anthony Piccirillo (R-Sayville) and Legis. Kara Hahn (D-Port Jefferson), who was selected to fill Calarco’s vacancy as the deputy presiding officer.
Calarco assumed office in 2011, was chosen by the caucus to serve as the majority leader in 2014 and selected as the deputy presiding officer by a bipartisan vote in 2016.
“During his tenure, he has been goal-oriented and focused on downtown revitalization, with projects that has been making Suffolk County more affordable,” said Gregory of Calarco’s nomination. “As the chair of the finance committee, (Calarco) has also reined in on spending. The Suffolk County Legislature is in good hands with Rob as presiding officer, and his many years as deputy presiding officer has laid foundation to that.”
After his announcement, Gregory requested nominations, of which there were only one, for Calarco; Legis. Bridget Fleming (D-Sag Harbor) seconded the nomination, and Calarco was voted in as presiding officer 16-2 (both of which were Republican No votes).
“Rob has earned our trust and confidence to lead the Legislature,” said Fleming, after seconding the nomination. “Under the guiding hand of Legis. Rob Calarco, this Legislature has passed six consecutive balanced budgets without raising property fund taxes. He is a reliable, trustworthy and intelligent true leader.”
However, among the two No votes, Legis. Robert Trotta (R-Smithtown) said, “Instead of patting ourselves on the back for doing a great job while we don’t raise property fund taxes, we essentially raise every other tax. There is talk about union officials being involved in a conspiracy theory and I have a little insight to the fact that everyone in this body with the exception of two, Piccirillo and myself, have obtained money illegally. While I think Calarco is a competent and great guy, we really need to take a hard look at the reality of what is going on in this county. We are wasting money over and over and over again.”
Calarco accepted his new position and addressed the crowd, stating that his style has always been to make sure everyone receives all the information necessary for them to make the best decisions based on their own district’s needs, promising he will continue to do so.
“We really care about fairness to the whole body and each and every legislator,” he added, also addressing the county’s financial situation. “We have to very much pay attention to our financial situation and our future.”
He also referenced important issues facing the county, including water quality, sustainable economic growth, diversity and affordable housing.
“We need to increase diversity and make sure everyone in Suffolk County has a better shot at getting a county job and living where they want to live and to their full potential,” he added