It’s been eight years since the residents of Southold Town have had a choice in an election for highway superintendent. Democrat Pete Harris, who ran unopposed in 2009 and won by slim margins over Republican Everett Glover in each of his two contested races, would have faced stiff competition this year from former councilman Vincent Orlando, a Republican.
But hours before the Democratic nominating convention, Mr. Harris announced he would not seek re-election after 12 years in office.
With little time to find a replacement, Democrats ultimately settled on nominee Eugene “Tobie” Wesnofske, a local farmer and auto mechanic from Cutchogue.
A nice guy with a blue-collar work ethic and a head for mechanics, Mr. Wesnofske seems an ideal candidate for a hands-on highway post, but not necessarily for the more hands-off managerial role of highway superintendent.
We believe Mr. Orlando, who certainly made it a point during the campaign to prove he, too, can put on his blue-collared shirt, is better suited to assume the very white-collar role of leading a department that operates on a nearly $6 million annual budget and whose employees have as much impact on public safety as any town staffers outside police headquarters. (While Mr. Wesnofske brought a copy of Southold Supervisor Scott Russell’s proposed 2014 budget to his Suffolk Times editorial board interview last week, he said he had not yet looked at it.)
Mr. Orlando’s one term on the Southold Town Board and his other town experience have given him a lot of insight into how the town operates. He has vowed to spend his first term assessing the highway department’s equipment needs and improving efficiency by matching laborers with assignments based on their specific skills.
Unlike Mr. Wesnofske, Mr. Orlando adequately outlined his plan during this campaign. He is easily the better choice.