Standing in the same place she announced her first run for the Suffolk County Legislature nearly 20 years ago, Angie Carpenter became the first Republican to announce a run for county executive.
The move gives Carpenter, the county treasurer, a head start over other possible GOP candidates hoping to fill the position that will be vacated by Steve Levy, who announced last week that he would not seek a third term.
Other prominent Republicans rumored to be contemplating a run include County Comptroller Joseph Sawicki and state Sen. John Flanagan, R-Northport.
Frank Tantone, chairman of the Islip Republican party, told Patch that he anticipates other Republican candidates would declare their intention to run for county executive, but noted that no other GOP member within Islip has expressed an intention to run for the position.
Should that happen, Suffolk Republicans would be forced to endure a lengthy primary process, something political party leaders typically look to avoid.
Suffolk Republican Chairman John Jay LaValle was not immediately available for comment.
Carpenter, during her speech at La Grange Inn in her hometown of West Islip, touched on the familiar themes of looking for ways to ease the tax burden on county residents, her desire to make government work more efficiently for the people and local businesses and working together to problem solve.
“Suffolk has lots of issues and concerns, but they can be solved with the right leadership. We need someone who is willing to work with people and not someone who is so combative,” she said, in a thinly veiled reference to Levy, who has been criticized by some for his willingness to verbally spar in public.
As an example of her problem-solving skills, Carpenter cited her role in developing a nursing education program. Bringing together Suffolk Community College, Southside Hospital and Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center when she was a county legislator, the program ultimately served to fill the many vacant nursing positions that plagued these and other county hospitals in past years.
And Carpenter, perhaps casting an eye to potential opponents in her party and among Democrats, declared that the county executive position is one that requires a person with experience.
“This is not a job that affords the time for on-the-job training,” she said. “I have the background and experience in government. I was there working as a full-time legislator and now have daily oversight over county finances as treasurer.”
Prior to being elected county treasurer six years ago, Carpenter served in the legislature for 13 years.
Whether she will face a GOP primary will be known in the weeks ahead. What appears to be clear, however, is that whoever the Republican nominee is, that person will likely face Babylon Town Supervisor Steve Bellone, a popular Democrat, this November.
While Bellone has not officially declared his candidacy for county executive, he is on what he calls a "listening tour" throughout Suffolk
"I'm meeting with community groups and organizations to get a sense of the issues," he said. "You first have to listen to people and understand what's happening in their communities."
Bellone is touting his success in Babylon, including reducing debt and taxes.
Barbara Capella Loehr contributed to this story.
Editor's note: La Grange, the venerable catering facility that recently closed and is for sale, was re-opened for the day to allow Carpenter to hold the press conference.