New minority leader
Legis. Tom Cilmi

File photo

New minority leader


SUFFOLK COUNTY—The Republican caucus of the Suffolk County Legislature announced earlier this month the selection of the 10th District Legis. Tom Cilmi as minority leader. Cilmi, a Bay Shore resident and business owner in the Town of Islip, was recently re-elected to his fifth term in office. He was first elected to the 10th District Legislator in 2009.  His district encompasses Islip, East Islip, Hauppauge, Islip Terrace, Great River, Bohemia, Ronkonkoma, Bay Shore and Islandia. 

“I’m honored to lead the Republican caucus in 2018,” Cilmi wrote in a statement earlier this month. “Legis. [Kevin] McCaffrey’s are pretty big shoes to fill, but I will do my best to work with all members of the Legislator to put an end to backdoor fees and taxes, to wasteful spending and borrowing, to increase transparency, to improve government integrity, and right a ship that is clearly off course.”

Cilmi told us earlier this week the members of the caucus will be working together to push forward the issues important to them personally as well as to the taxpayers. “Each of us has ideas,” he said, adding that their agenda is in the beginning stages. 

Cilmi and his wife, Anna, married in 1987. They have two grown children. Cilmi is a graduate of West Babylon Public Schools (1982) and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from New York Institute of Technology (1986). 

Having coached both his children’s soccer teams, Cilmi was elected to the board of directors of the East Islip Soccer Club in 2001. He served as president from 2005 through 2008. In addition to coaching soccer, Cilmi volunteered as a basketball coach for St. Mary’s CYO in 1999. He joined the board of directors in 2005. 

Cilmi is a member of the Islip and East Islip School-Business Partnership and represents the Islip Chamber of Commerce as a member of the Islip Anti-Bias Task Force, which is chaired by Rabbi Steven Moss and is comprised of citizens with the interest in promoting tolerance throughout the town. He is also a member of Action Long Island, an advocacy group of business leaders that addresses a variety of key issues and challenges facing Long Island. 

It was back in 1995 that he was asked to join county Legis. Tom Finlay as his legislative aide, a position he held for about three years. It was there that he got his first taste for local politics. Cilmi also joined the Islip Chamber of Commerce after purchasing his business. He was soon appointed to the board of directors, where he served as president in 2001 and 2002, and again in 2007 and 2008.

Cilmi told the Islip Bulletin before his victory last year that he’d like to see the governing body spend more time focusing on the opioid crisis on Long Island and protecting the county’s drinking water. He’s also concerned about the county’s debt. “The amount of debt in the county now exceeds $2 billion, and we’re still running an operating deficit,” he said, adding there is not a lot of bipartisan support for ideas to help control it. “I tried to get the county to institute multi-year budget planning and cut [spending] by 10 percent,” Cilmi said, noting that any suggestions to rein in “spending and borrowing” were thwarted. 

“The fiscal conditions have worsened in the eight years that I’ve been in office,” he said earlier this week, adding that residents are leaving for other parts of the country. 

The new minority leader sits on the Legislature’s Public Safety, Ways and Means, Health, Seniors and Consumer Protection committees. He is also the chair of the Task Force on Substance Abuse, where he said he has made underage drinking and all substance abuse a priority, and often speaks in schools throughout the district, warning students about the dangers. He sponsored legislation to increase enforcement of the social host law as well as a bill that requires e-cigarette retailers to register with the county.

Cilmi said the Republicans all agreed that battling the opioid crisis and taking on the gangs are one of the top priorities. When asked about treatment for those suffering from addiction, he said the caucus would be putting out their platform within the next few weeks.