Rob Calarco has served as Legis. Jack Eddington’s chief-of-staff for the last four years.
Now he wants Eddington's job.
Calarco, a Democrat, is running against to replace Eddington, , in the 7th Legislative District, which includes Patchogue, Medford, Holtsville and Blue Point.
Calarco, who was raised upstate before moving to Long Island to obtain a bachelor's degree from Dowling College and a master's in public administration from Stony Brook University, has frequently spoken about the county's high cost of living on the campaign trail.
“It comes down to making Suffolk County affordable again for the middle class,” Calarco said. “Suffolk is becoming a place that is very hard for people to afford, whether a young person who is looking to start off in life and trying to find a place where you can live not in your parents' home or retirees on the other side of the coin who are looking to downsize, it's just something you cannot afford.”
To combat this, Calarco said the county needs to bring in middle class jobs, provide housing options and make sure the government does so efficiently.
On the creation of new jobs, Calarco said, “I think we do that by tapping into what we do have and that’s tomorrow’s technologies."
He said that using research institutions such Stony Brook University, Brookhaven National Laboratory and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory can propel the economy and drive tomorrow’s jobs.
Calarco, 32, also said the county needs to use the community college to help give people the skill set to fill those jobs, which may require as little as a course.
For housing, Calarco said that the government needs to make sure that there are a variety of housing options available in the county for the variety of people that live here.
“The third is making sure that our government is doing its job, and that we are making the investments into the infrastructure that we need to so we can attract those businesses into the area, that we are providing the educational component so that our workforce does get the skills that they need and also that we are doing it as efficiently as we can so we are not putting extra burden on the homeowner,” Calarco said.
Calarco said that since more than half of the county’s budget comes from sales taxes revenue, it’s more important to spur the economy in order to recover from the current recession.
“We’re not going to get out of this by increasing taxes, the only way we are going to get out of this is by growing the economy, creating jobs and keeping the middle class strong,” Calarco said.
Calarco said there are also several achievements that he has been a part of while working in Eddington’s office that he would like to see through.
“You take an area like East Patchogue where we’ve been able to the Plaza Theatre," he said, "and where we worked with the Town to do the sewer lines and get the road re-paved and to do different types of things to really start beautifying the area and re-building it, but there is a lot of progress you have to make.
"It’s the same thing in Medford where we are looking to put their vision plan into place, they completed that process a year ago, they are really looking to create a hamlet center in the area,” Calarco said.
Other projects in progress Calarco mentioned included work on the , the re-vitalization of Patchogue's Main Street and the Blue Point Laundry property.
Overall though, Calarco said his main focus, if elected, would be to boost the county's workforce.
“My number one issue right now is going to be doing everything we can to bring in jobs to Suffolk County,” he said.
Calarco, who recently bought a home in Patchogue Village with his wife, Laura, has also served as a chief-of-staff and aide to former Legis. Ginny Fields.
Election Day is next Tuesday.