2012’s Public Servant of the Year for both The Suffolk Times and the Riverhead News-Review is someone who represented both Southold and Riverhead towns over the past seven years, but who won’t be representing either in 2013.
Ed Romaine, who was elected Brookhaven Town Supervisor in November, is our choice for Public Servant of the Year for his work as the North Fork’s representative in the Suffolk County Legislature from 2006 to 2012.
And a lot of people agree.
“I couldn’t think of anybody more deserving of this than Ed,” said Southold Supervisor Scott Russell. “As supervisor, I have worked with Ed on issues ranging from stormwater mitigation to erosion control to farmland preservation. Ed has been our go-to guy on just about any issue. He’s tireless. He’s got an institutional knowledge. He’s one of those guys that just tries to make a difference every day in as nonpartisan a fashion as possible.”
“He is probably one of the few remaining true statesmen that we have left in the county,” said Eric Biegler, president of the Sound Park Heights Civic Association in the Reeves Park area of Riverhead. “He works across party lines, he understands the importance of community and he understands the importance of representing his constituents without concern for party affiliation or party line.”
At the request of the Reeves Park community, Mr. Romaine worked to get the county to acquire a four-acre parcel at the northeast corner of Park Road and Sound Avenue, where a shopping center had been proposed, in order to make a 9-11 Memorial there. At least two families in Reeves Park lost loved ones on Sept. 11.
“He took our cause right up to the end, at his last county legislative meeting,” when the acquisition was finally approved, Mr. Biegler said. “I couldn’t think of a better person for this award. We are sorry he is going over to Brookhaven.”
In the Legislature, Mr. Romaine and South Fork representative Jay Schneiderman were consistently outnumbered 16-2 by West End legislators.
Now it’s 16 to 1, said Mr. Schneiderman, who not only fought alongside Mr. Romaine on bills to benefit the East End, but also knew him before he entered public office.
“He was my seventh grade social studies teacher in Hauppauge,” Mr. Schneiderman said.
“Ed has been a tremendous fighter for the people of the East End,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “He’s got a great record on the environment and, for the past eight years, he’s been a great partner of mine in protecting the interests of the East End.”
Mr. Schneiderman, who was elected to the Legislature as a Republican but switched his enrollment to the Independence party, said Mr. Romaine “puts party interests aside and works for the good of the people.”
“Ed Romaine is going to be sorely missed by the Town of Riverhead,” said Mason Haas, a town assessor who has worked with Mr. Romaine on the issue of getting the homeless sex offender trailers removed from county property in Riverside and Westhampton. “He’s been a friend and advocate for us.”
Other issues Mr. Romaine worked on include getting fire wells put in the pine barrens, helping people who lost their homes to flooding on Horton Avenue in Riverhead, acquiring the North Fork Preserve in Northville for parkland, getting weekend bus service on the East End and fighting the MTA payroll tax.
Mr. Romaine’s successor will be chosen in a Jan. 15 special election between Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter and Southold Councilman Al Krupski.