Steve Bellone, the Democratic town supervisor of Babylon, formally entered the race for county executive yesterday at a rally in his hometown, making him that party’s de facto nominee and setting him on a collision course with the G.O.P. front-runner, Suffolk County Treasurer Angie Carpenter.
Mr. Bellone, who served on Babylon’s town board for four years before being elected supervisor in 2001, graduated from North Babylon High School and received a bachelor’s degree from Queens College in 1991. He enlisted in the Army the following year, earning a master’s degree in public administration while serving. He went on to Fordham for a law degree and was admitted to the New York Bar in 1999.
Environmental groups have praised him, the Sierra Club of Long Island designating him the environmentalist of the year in 2009.
Married with two daughters, Mr. Bellone considers himself to be a centrist Democrat, emphasizing tax cuts and balanced budgets, though he insisted when reached by phone yesterday that his fiscal conservatism hasn’t prevented him from investing in things that matter.
“Government matters,” he said in describing his vision. “It affects people’s lives, communities. It needs to be operating. You can make government both effective and efficient. It can do the things it needs to do to help our community move forward and still be as cost-effective as possible for taxpayers.”
The Babylon supervisor will face another western Suffolk candidate in Ms. Carpenter. No candidates from the East End have entered the race.
In a statement released to supporters to coincide with his announcement yesterday, Mr. Bellone said, “I have listened, and now it is time to lead. I will bring people together to get things done by ending the notion that divisive politics and press statements are a substitute for actual leadership. I will work with, and not against, our police officers to make our communities safer,” he said, referring to the current administration’s treatment of county police, which later by phone he called “demoralizing.”
County Executive Steve Levy has declined to seek re-election in the wake of allegations of campaign fund-raising impropriety.
In the speech, Mr. Bellone went after the Levy administration for the sex offender trailers that remain in Southampton Town and Riverhead, and he promised a top-to-bottom review of the county’s finances related to them. He confirmed over the phone that he would support sharing the burden of housing the offenders, calling the situation “unacceptable.”
“What’s happening on the East End right now with respect to sex offenders is some of the worst public policy I’ve ever seen,” he said. “It would be a focus of mine from the beginning.”
As Ms. Carpenter has, Mr. Bellone indicated that he would support legislation to more equitably share countywide sales tax revenues for public safety, money that under the Levy administration has been earmarked for western Suffolk. The issue is a top priority of County Legislator Jay Schneiderman of Montauk.
Mr. Bellone said he knows and respects his probable Republican opponent. He sees himself as having Democrats across the county united behind him, and with the county Democratic Party treating him like their nominee, a protracted primary fight appears unlikely.