Dave Calone, a former chairman of the Suffolk County Planning Commission who has a background in law and business, is officially the Suffolk County Democratic Committee’s candidate of choice for county executive.
Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, who told The Southampton Press late last year that he was considering running for county executive, confirmed Sunday that he has opted not to run.
Mr. Calone, who lives in East Setauket, has hit the ground running, with $1.7 million in fund-raising through Jan. 13, according to campaign finance filings. Voters here may recall his candidacy in a 2016 congressional primary, in which he lost to former Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, who ultimately lost to Lee Zeldin, the incumbent at the time. Mr. Calone first announced his intent to run for Suffolk County executive in July 2022.
Steve Bellone, the current county executive and a Democrat, is term-limited and cannot run again. The Suffolk County Republicans have not yet named a candidate for the role; a committee staffer said Monday morning that party officials have no plans to do so until their formal convention in mid-March.
In confirming Mr. Calone’s status as the Democratic nominee, Keith Davies, a party spokesman, said electing a Democrat to the county executive post is “a top priority. . . . Our goal this year is to keep Democratic control of the county executive and take back the legislature.”
“Dave has experience as a business leader,” Mr. Davies later continued. “When we’re talking about jobs and the economy, he has a very unique experience . . . and I think voters are going to see and hear and appreciate that.”
Mr. Schneiderman, a former East Hampton Town supervisor and Suffolk County legislator, is term-limited at eight years in the top office in Southampton. “I considered the county executive post because I felt I had a suitable background. . . . To my knowledge, Suffolk County has never had a county executive from the East End,” Mr. Schneiderman said via text message. “However, for a variety of reasons, I have decided not to enter the county executive race at this juncture, and instead focus my energy on town matters. I appreciate all those who encouraged me to seek higher office. I intend to continue to stay involved in serving our region, even after my final term as supervisor concludes.”
Mr. Calone says in his online biography that as a prosecutor at the federal and state levels, he targeted criminals committing corporate fraud in the gas and oil industry as well as acts of terrorism, health care fraud, and crimes impacting military families. In the business world, Mr. Calone is chief executive officer of Jove Equity Partners and was a founder of the Long Island Emerging Technologies Fund, a venture capital entity that has funded biotech and clean energy initiatives in the region.
In an interview Monday, Mr. Calone said he plans to unveil specific platforms as the campaign unfolds, but that some of his key issues already include public safety, economic development, and housing affordability. He said he has considerable bipartisan support so far.
“I think people are tired of politics as usual and the left-right divide,” he said. “I think people want people who will come together to solve problems and not squawk at each other on TV. We have 10 months until Election Day. . . . I’m looking forward to spending 10 months letting people know about me and my background, but also listening to them and hearing people’s concerns.”
As Suffolk County’s planning commission chair for nine years, Mr. Calone said one of his campaign advantages is that he knows “issues on the East End differ from more UpIsland issues. Obviously we’re in this together, but it’s a big county.”
Locally, according to campaign finance records through Jan. 13, Mr. Calone has received contributions from at least 14 East End donors so far, ranging from $25 to $7,500. He has also received money from campaign committees of other prominent Democrats, including Kara Hahn, a six-term county legislator and fellow East Setauket resident who is term-limited; Laura Curran, a former Nassau County executive; former Representative Kathleen Rice of Nassau County’s Fourth Congressional District, and current and former party officials from Brookhaven and Huntington townships.