Suffolk County Treasurer Angie Carpenter, a Republican, formally entered the race for county executive March 30, styling herself a more “inclusive” and “less combative” alternative to the retiring incumbent, Steve Levy, also of the G.O.P. She said the economy would be her top priority should she be elected.
“My vision is to have government be there to help people and not get in people’s way,” she said when interviewed by telephone April 4. “Too often we come up with overburdensome regulations and initiatives that make it difficult for residents and for business owners. Given the tough financial times we face, I think it’s absolutely imperative that we try to do all we can to keep our businesses here, thriving in Suffolk County.”
Ms. Carpenter expressed concern about the tendency for youth to graduate from high school and college and leave the area. “We have to do all we can to keep our residents here. We’ve invested hundreds of millions of dollars in educating our young people, only for them to pick up and go to other parts of the country where it’s cheaper to live.”
Ms. Carpenter, 67, of West Islip, was a county legislator from 1993 to 2005 and has been treasurer since 2006. She announced her candidacy to about 100 supporters in her hometown on March 30.
She said fostering a congenial, effective working relationship with the Legislature and towns across the county was important. “We have coequal branches of government, and the Legislature is the policy branch of government. It’s got to be a partnership, it’s got to be working together. You can’t be butting heads all the time. Behind the scenes, quietly working together, not only working with the Legislature but also with the towns, making sure we have a cohesive message to foster and promote economic development.”
“I’ve worked with her,” said Jay Schneiderman, county legislator for the East End district that includes the towns of East Hampton and Southampton, on Friday. “She’s done an excellent job as treasurer, has earned everybody’s respect. I think she’s qualified.”
Mr. Schneiderman said he would almost certainly make an endorsement in the race for county executive, and that two issues would inform that decision: revenue sharing (or preventing county sales tax revenue from going exclusively to western Suffolk Police Departments and not those on the East End) and the presence in his district of so-called “sex offender trailers” (which house homeless people convicted of sex crimes).
As far as the path to the G.O.P. nomination was concerned, Ms. Carpenter said, “I don’t foresee a primary. I’m very hopeful that everyone will coalesce around me. I’ve got all of what it takes to get the job done. I’m ready to hit the ground running with no on-the-job training.”
Mr. Schneiderman foresaw a more contentious election season. “She’s won a countywide race and is a good candidate. She has fund-raising ability, but I think you will see other Republicans get in.” He mentioned Suffolk Comptroller Joe Sawicki as another Republican leader with “countywide name recognition” who is “very respected” — and who also happens to be from the East End.
Babylon Supervisor Steve Bellone, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has not yet officially entered the fray, although an announcement is expected sometime this month.
Addressing Mr. Schneiderman’s two priorities for the East End, Ms. Carpenter called the sex offender trailers “a travesty.” She added, “I don’t think it should be in anybody’s district. I believe the Legislature is addressing that. No one area should shoulder that kind of burden.”
The candidate said she voted in the Legislature for and continues to support revenue sharing of sales tax money for public safety. Indeed, she voted in 2005 to override Mr. Levy’s veto of a bill that would have codified more equitable revenue sharing between eastern and western Suffolk towns.