Incumbents vie for 11th District seat in Legislature
Joe McDermott (D, WF)
Mayor McDermott, a 13-year resident of the Village of Brightwaters, has held public office for four years – three years in his current position and a year prior to that as a trustee. Both positions are voluntary.
“I’ve always been a volunteer,” said the father of three, noting he has helped with local sports programs such as CYO basketball and Bay Shore-Brightwaters lacrosse. A structural ironworker and a member of Local 361, McDermott said he saw a need in the village and wanted to fix it.
“There were issues around the village that I wanted to see changed, and that’s why I first decided to run for office. It was time for a change,” he said.
McDermott says he’s been able to balance the budget for the village and has kept all of the details transparent. “Everyone got to see the budget before the [public] hearing on it,” he noted.
Prior to his administration, McDermott said the village had been on a list of fiscally stretched municipalities with the state comptroller’s office. “I made the tough decisions to cut wasteful spending,” he said. And as a result, he noted that the village’s bond rating has risen to AA+. He said that improved rating has enabled the village to pass two bonds: $1.6 million for infrastructure repairs and another $1.6 million for canal restoration.
“People have seen what I’ve done and they like my common-sense approach,” he said. “I work for everyone and it doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat or a Republican.
“I have a motto, ‘Anytime, anywhere,’” he said, adding that he returns every constituent’s phone call within 36 hours.
“My wife taught me to be a good listener. If I don’t know an answer [to an issue], I’ll find out. I like doing homework.”
McDermott said he was encouraged by many people to move up in office. In 2015, he ran unsuccessfully for town council, but was again encouraged to run for the Legislature this year. And he believes he would be the right person for the job over his opponent.
“I think I’d be a better fit,” he said. “[Councilman Flotteron] had his turn and he didn’t hold up his end of the bargain.”
McDermott cited a 45 percent Islip Town tax increase over the past several years, the installation of parking meters in Bay Shore, and the serious toxic dumping that occurred at Islip Town’s Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood that resulted in the town floating a bond to help pay for the cleanup.
“He didn’t know what was going on,” McDermott said regarding the park situation. “He wasn’t paying attention. So what else didn’t he see?”
If elected to this position, McDermott said he would look over the county’s spending to find ways to reduce costs. He is concerned about water quality on Long Island and said he’d make that a priority in office, as well finding ways to tackle the opioid epidemic in the county, a problem he says “can happen anywhere.”
McDermott said large development projects such as Heartland come with an added cost.
“You can’t stop growth on Long island,” he said. “But you need to hold [developers] accountable to fix the infrastructure, otherwise the taxpayers will wind up paying for it.
“I’m running for office because I care,” he added. “People deserve to have someone who listens to their concerns.”
Steve Flotteron (R, C, I)
Councilman Flotteron has been a Town of Islip resident since 1995 and has served on Islip’s Town Council since 2006. Although he has one term left to run in his current position, he has decided to run for this open county seat. In September, he won a Republican primary election against West Islip resident and Bay Shore businessman, Mike McElwee.
“We did very well,” he said. “Now it’s on to the general election.”
Among his accomplishments, Flotteron said he has been able to champion enhancements without the use of taxpayer funds. He said he helped organize the revitalization of the Brookwood Hall grounds, where recent plantings that are valued at $500,000 were made possible through fiscal and material donations and the sweat equity of volunteers. “We built and created that grand garden without using taxpayer money,” he said.
The councilman was also instrumental in the building of Madeleine’s Playground at West Islip Beach. The play area was made possible by a grant and again through what Flotteron says is his ability to generate the support needed to get that playground built.
One program he’s particularly proud of is Par F.O.R.E. Flotteron said he was able to put a Stony Brook University professor’s idea for at-risk kids into action. While teaching kids golf, they also impart important life lessons on how to make better choices. “We came up with a plan and I helped open doors,” Flotteron noted. “The program went national.”
In fact, were he to get elected, he said he’d rally support to bring that program and similar programs to other county neighborhoods. His plans are to unite students and professors from Suffolk County Community College to come up with ideas for that purpose. “We’ll see how we could help each other,” he noted.
“There are things to be done on all levels in the county,” he added, noting he would bring his experience and skills to help fix a number of concerns. Among the issues he would focus on are homelessness, drug abuse and gangs, in addition to what he says is “the county’s wasteful spending.
“The county is in a fiscal mess,” Flotteron said, noting he has the experience in government and through his insurance business to help change some of the financial problems on the county level.
High taxes seem to be the one issue he’s heard about repeatedly from residents while out on campaign walks. “Taxes comes up with everyone,” he remarked.
And since his opponent pointed to a 45 percent tax increase in the town, Flotteron refuted that comment and several others. On higher town taxes, he said that despite recent increases, his town taxes have remained low, especially compared to his county taxes that have gone up appreciably. He noted his opponent – who is the mayor of Brightwaters Village – has bonded over $3 million, burdening village residents with a debt much more per capita than any bond or tax increase in Islip.
He said the installation of parking meters in Bay Shore was necessary, especially since there has been a boom in the number of apartments as well as businesses opening up there recently. “Parking needed to be managed,” he said. “But there will always be critics even when you are trying to fix that.”
As for the incident at Roberto Clemente Park, where toxic dumping occurred on his watch, he said that as soon as the town was informed of the dangerous conditions the park was closed and then work began toward the cleanup and restoration.
Flotteron said his record of good fiscal management, cuts to wasteful spending, preparing Islip for the future and doing improvements around town without burdening taxpayers is why he feels he’d be up for the county job.
“I don’t take anything for granted and I am always available [to my constituents],” he said.
Flotteron is married and has two grown daughters. He and his wife reside in Brightwaters. n
Like what you have read? Click here to subscribe to the The Islip Bulletin so you can read more stories like this, and find out everything that’s going on in your town!