You may not always agree with him, but the tenor in Town Hall is positive, say Supervisor Scott Russell’s supporters about his leadership. Even Democrat Al Krupski Jr., who has known the Republican supervisor most of his life and served with him on the Town Board for the past five years, calls him hardworking and honest.
For his work ethic, integrity and straightforward approach to governing, The Suffolk Times has selected Scott Russell as its Person of the Year.
Mr. Russell was first elected in 2005 to a two-year term and re-elected in 2007 to the town’s first four-year term for a supervisor, He has extracted givebacks from CSEA union members during a difficult economic time. He put his neck on the line with Suffolk County Water Authority officials, backing Brown’s Hills residents who objected to a federal stimulus project to install water mains in place of their well water.
Even when he lacked support for his initiatives — such as one that would have limited animals that residents could keep on their property, or calls for noise abatement regulations — he has been candid about his views.
Phillip Beltz recalled, when he assumed the position of deputy supervisor in 2007, Mr. Russell told him, “You do not work for me; you work for the people of this town.” Mr. Beltz called Mr. Russell “a man of extraordinary integrity” and “a tireless leader.”
These are difficult times, Mr. Beltz said. But Mr. Russell is “tackling it head on” in a bipartisan approach to governing, he said.
“He’s certainly proven that government can and must do more with less,” the deputy supervisor said. “He’s certainly given the people a voice.”
Although they are political rivals, Mr. Krupski said he and the supervisor share a lot of the same philosophies.
“You need people in government that work together,” Mr. Krupski said. Mr. Russell has “always reached across party lines,” he said. “He works hard and he’s honest, and I don’t think you can ask for more than that,” he said.
“I think he’s been great,” said Republican Party chairman Denis Noncarrow. “You’ll never meet anyone who knows more about the community than him,” he said.
Mr. Russell “truly likes the input from the community,” Mr. Noncarrow said. “In general, most people trust him and I believe he absolutely has the good of the community in his heart.”
Town human resources director Karen McLaughlin credited the supervisor with being a strong supporter of programs to assist town seniors.
Town Trustee John Bredemeyer, who dealt closely with Mr. Russell during the struggle with the Suffolk County Water Authority, said it was “an extremely difficult position for Scott to take.” Because he has to deal with SCWA officials for help and assistance in other matters, it was courageous of him to buck them on the Brown’s Hills issue, Mr. Bredemeyer said.
“The supervisor was out in front of everyone,” he said. He also credited Mr. Russell with hearing out all views and allowing others to come to their own conclusions.
Following one of the meetings dealing with the Brown’s Hills issue, Orient resident and former Oysterponds School District Board of Education president Tim Frost said about Mr. Russell, “He may be a better supervisor than we deserve.”