For the first time in his political career Suffolk County Legislator Tom Barraga, who represents the 11th District, is running unopposed for re-election.
As he heads into his fifth two-year term with ease, Patch decided to catch up with the veteran lawmaker on issues in his district and his successful career as a elected official.
Hometown: West Islip
Current Term as Legislator: Currently service his fourth two-year-term
Personal Hobbies: None
Married: 46 years
Number of kids: Two children and seven grandchildren
Patch: You’re running unopposed this election year. What do you think that reflects – a lack of viable opponents or a tribute to the strength of your political leadership and success?
Barraga: I would like to think that running unopposed is an
indication that we have been successful in representing the residents of the 11th
Legislative District. I have always
been a full time representative whose office spends a great amount of time on
constituent service. Having said that
it is also possible that the opposition party wanted to spend resources in those
races where there is no incumbent as opposed to trying to unseat an individual with many years in elected office.
Patch: In all the time you’ve been in office, what is the number one success/accomplishment you would put at the top of the “made happen” list?
Barraga: There are many individual successes, accomplishments as well as disappointments in the years that I have served the public. In the state assembly I was most proud of the work I did on the Temporary State Commission on the Distribution of State Educational Aid. The Commission appointed by former Governor Mario Cuomo did excellent work and produced approximately forty recommendations to deal with a more effective and fairer distribution of State Education Aid to school districts in the State of New York.
In the Suffolk County Legislature with huge fiscal
challenges facing the County because of the major recession of 2008 I have and
will continue to make every effort to control county expenses and to
consolidate and merge departments in order to reduce and eliminate the county
deficit. There is a big difference
between needs and wants-- government has an obligation to meet the former but
can no longer afford the latter.
Patch: What is the one top issue facing your constituents today and what are you doing to help solve it?
Barraga: The top issue for my constituents is fiscal in
nature. Suffolk County is an extremely
expensive place to live and it’s not getting any better. Every day another huge bill (electric,
cable, mortgage, insurance, auto, phone, food, etc.) hits the house. The people I represent are hurting. In the county we can continue to do what we
have been doing for the past eight years I have been in office. The county has not raised General Fund Taxes
and our budget will fall within the two percent state cap.
Patch: What was your view of the current government shutdown?
Barraga: Completely unacceptable.
Patch: What is your view of advancing more sewer districts on LI to draw more business and help with runoff pollutant issues? Are you pro sewer?
Barraga: Everyone supports more sewers as 70 percent of Suffolk
County is not sewered. The big question
is where does the money for construction come from and even if you have the
funds for construction what are the hookup fees and the yearly maintenance. You need billions for construction and
hookup fees are exorbitant and annual fees are huge. The need exists but the money is scarce.
Patch: As a West Islip resident, what would you like to see built at the controversial proposed 7-Eleven site. A proposal just vetoed by the town planning board.
Barraga: I do not have a preference in terms of what is built on
this property other than it should complement existing retailers in the area.
Patch: What’s your view of the new stop signs on Orinoco? Did you help get them in place or do you think they’re overkill for trying to slow traffic?
Barraga: It is a town road and the stop signs are in place which I
believe are an asset to those homeowners who live along Orinoco. As far as the drivers—go slower, live
longer, eat ice cream -- be happy.
Patch: As an experienced legislator, what is the most frustrating part of your job?
Barraga: The people are great—the politics stink.
Patch: What is the best part of your job?
Barraga: My constituents.