County legislature candidates debate

Mazzarella vs. O’Neil


The two candidates for Suffolk County Legislature, District 3, stated their case before voters at a Meet the Candidates night at William Floyd High School on Oct. 18.

Republican Jim Mazzarella has represented the district since winning a special election in 2021 over Kate Browning, who served in the county legislature from 2006 to 2017.

Mazzarella is being challenged by Democrat Thad O’Neil, an entrepreneur and associate adjunct professor at Parsons School of Design in New York, who is making his first bid for elective office.

The 3rd District includes Moriches and a portion of Center Moriches.

The two candidates disagreed over how revenue from a proposed one-eighth percent sales tax increase to fund improved water quality in Suffolk County should be spent.

Mazzarella said he disagreed with the current plan, which would allocate 25 percent of the money raised for expanding sewers and 75 percent for upgrading existing individual septic systems, so they remove nitrogen from wastewater. Instead, Mazzarella would like to see more money allocated to sewers.

“If we’re going to ask voters [and] taxpayers for a one-eighth percent tax, we better get it right,” he said.

O’Neil disagreed, stating “the science” supported allocating 75 percent of the revenue to septic systems.

The two candidates agreed on cracking down on speeding in the district.

O’Neil said that voters tell him it’s a problem. Mazzarella, deputy chair of the legislature’s public safety committee, said police are deploying more officers in areas where speeding is a problem. 

In addition to Mazzarella and O’Neil, the other candidates at the Oct. 18 event were Brookhaven Town supervisor Ed Romaine, who is running for county executive; deputy Brookhaven Town supervisor Dan Panico, who is running for supervisor; the two candidates for superintendent of highways, Dan Losquadro and Mike Kaplan; and the two candidates for Brookhaven Town Board District 6, Karen Dunne and Dr. Kerry Spooner.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 7. Early voting starts on Oct. 28.


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