Huntington Station – Chad A. Lupinacci was sworn in as the Town of Huntington’s 81st Supervisor January 2, detailing in an inaugural address how he plans to take the Town in a “new direction” over the next four years.
“This night has been a long time coming, a night when we return Town government to the control of those with a clear vision of what defines our suburban lifestyle,” Supervisor Lupinacci said in beginning his remarks, before an audience of 750 at Walt Whitman High School. “This is a night in which we begin putting into action our mandate to preserve the keys to what has made Huntington such a desirable community over the years to live, work and raise a family.”
“Our campaign slogan was to take Huntington in a new direction,” he said. “Tonight we begin traveling down that road.”
Supervisor Lupinacci took the ceremonial oath of office during a program that also saw Councilmen Mark Cuthbertson and Edmund J.M. Smyth and Highway Superintendent Kevin S. Orelli take their oaths.
In his remarks, Supervisor Lupinacci, a lifelong Huntington resident, noted that his grandparents had made the Town their home after emigrating from Italy. “My grandparents viewed Huntington as a Town of vast opportunity and unlimited potential.... a place marked by natural beauty and rich diversity of opinions and culture. My grandparents were as proud of the fact that they lived in Huntington as they were of their Italian heritage,” the Supervisor said. “I share my grandparents’ pride in Huntington, and, for that reason, I dedicated my adult life to public service. And I believe my life experience growing up here has prepared me well to face the challenges of being supervisor.”
In describing what policies a new direction would entail, Supervisor Lupinacci noted, “It does not mean tearing everything down and starting over. It does not mean undoing everything that the Town government has done over the past 24 years. Frank Petrone accomplished a lot during his tenure as Supervisor, and he leaves office with a record of which he can be proud in many areas: environmental matters, park development and shrewd budgetary planning, to name a few. I know all of us truly believe he had the best interests of the Town during his tenure and we all wish him only the best as he steps away from the daily rigors of public life. But a new direction does mean identifying those policies, programs and procedures that should remain and building on them...while identifying those that do need to be changed, and changing them as quickly as possible.”
Among the most immediate, visible changes he cited was a decision to double the number of scheduled Town Board meetings, from once a month to two, with one of the monthly meetings held at night so residents could more easily attend. He also pledged to seek out input from community groups before acting on major projects; to appoint an economic advisor to help make Town government more business friendly to attract businesses and jobs; and to streamline the approval process in the building department and to cut unnecessary regulations and fees for both homeowners and businesses.
Other areas of focus include working with law enforcement, the schools and community groups to fight the plague of opioid and heroin addiction; taking the necessary steps to improve parking throughout the Town, including building a parking garage in Huntington Village; and continuing to improve the Town’s waterways to provide recreation options for residents and as an important source of economic development.
Noting that the Town Board represents a range of different political viewpoints, Supervisor Lupinacci pledged to work together with all of his colleagues to solve problems.
Summing up his remarks, Supervisor Lupinacci said, “That is what a new direction is all about: It is about respect for all residents and their views. It is about listening to all sides before we act. It is about recognizing differences and forging compromises that allow the town to keep moving forward. It is about transparency, and accessibility, and accountability. It is about meeting the needs and addressing the desires of all our residents. It is about creating a government that makes all of us feel proud to be Huntingtonians.”
Each of the other inducted elected officials also delivered comments after taking their oaths.
In his remarks, Councilman Cuthbertson said, “If a new direction means that we look at how we can continue to improve how we deliver services and manage town for the better I am all for a new direction...Actually, our direction as a town is often and in many ways dictated by outside forces. One of our keys to success is that we have adapted to changing times….When we make the tough decisions we move our town forward and have a lasting and positive impact. I hope that is a large part of what we do in the next four years.”
Councilman Smyth told a story about visiting a historic battleship and noticing that while the captains did not stay with the ship for long periods of time during World War II, the support staff did. “The people that did the heavy lifting, the people that actually ran the boat, they stuck around. Like the captains, politicians come and go... eventually. The people who do the heavy lifting, the people who actually run the boat, they stick around. To the employees of the Town of Huntington, the people who do the heavy lifting, please stick around. Keep running the boat, you’re doing a fine job.”
Highway Superintendent Orelli said, “We are here to celebrate the election of two Democrats and two Republicans. That is emblematic of what a great country we live in…This night is also a celebration of our Democracy and our right to vote. ..Being in politics is not easy. Being in politics is like driving a car. Everybody knows where they want to go, they all agree on the destination, but they can’t seem to agree on which way to go. We all want to make our Town a better place to live, but we may not agree on which road to take … Chad, Mark, Ed and myself are all here because we want to make Huntington an even better place. We each believe we know the better road to take to bring Huntington into the future.”
The program, for which former Brookhaven Supervisor (and current Suffolk County Republican chairman) John Jay LaValle served as master of ceremonies, included a greeting by U.S. Rep. Thomas Suozzi, performances by the Huntington Commuinity Choir and the Walt Whitman High School Chorale and its Jazz Band and prayers from a broad spectrum of local clergy.