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Calarco, Giannott Snipe During Debate

Things get personal between county legislature candidates Rob Calarco and John Giannott at meet the candidates event Wednesday night.

Tensions rose at the Medford Fire Department on Wednesday night as county legislature candidates  and  went head to head at a meet the candidates event. The two men are running in the 7th Legislative District.

Republican Giannott and Democrat Calarco are hoping to replace incumbent , who is not seeking re-election. Calarco currently serves as chief of staff to Eddington, and Giannott, a  graduate, runs two Bellport businesses.

The candidates spent 35-minutes in the hot seat at the event sponsored by the Medford Taxpayers Civic Association, answering questions from the audience and firing a few personal attacks at each other.  

“He’s going to go back upstate after this election, I guarantee it,” Giannott said, referring to Calarco’s recent home purchase in Patchogue Village. Calarco was raised upstate and moved to Long Island to attend Dowling College.

Calarco referred to a Giannott took out for one of his businesses, where he was sought after to pay it back.

“I think it speaks against his fiscal responsibility, we have to pay our bills on time,” Calarco said.

Giannott has told Patch that he and his wife, Jenni, "fell behind on a few bills" while getting their Bellport restaurant Porters on the Lane up and running in 2008, but that all debt they accrued has since been paid in full.

Both candidates, vying for the open seat in the 7th Legislative District, which includes Patchogue, Medford, Holtsville and Blue Point, said they were in support of tobacco sales taxes to help fill the county's depleted coffers.

“We have to look at every factor, and the reality is the county’s budget relies on sales tax, we really have to find a way to plug these holes,” Calarco said. “I’d also like to see the county create a traffic violations bureau; that’s another place we can get revenue.”

Small businessman Giannott said he would advocate for renovations to Route 112 if elected.

“I look at everything like it’s a business,” he said. “We need to support our small businesses and have them open up in 30 days to increase sales tax revenue, and this will take care of parts of our community and Route 112.”

The candidates also responded to questions about job creation.

“We have to focus on bringing in tomorrow’s technology and bringing in middle class jobs,” Calarco said. “We do that by working with our research institutions and putting them in touch with investors.”

According to Giannott, the best way for this to occur is through government consolidation to facilitate new businesses.

“The biggest impediment small businesses are facing is government,” he said. “We need to get our county government under one roof so these businesses can open.”

Each candidate was given a three-minute closing statement to reaffirm their stance.

“I’m from this neighborhood, and I want to bring it back to the way it was,” Giannott said. “I’m going to create jobs. I’m not hiding from anyone.”

Calarco shot back to the thinly veiled dig at his upstate roots. 

“I wanted to move here because I saw a better life here in Suffolk County, that makes me part of this community,” he said. “We have to make it an affordable place to live again. So no, John, I’m not going anywhere.”

D.Ockers October 28, 2011 at 12:05 AM
Why does Mr. Calarco keep referring to himself as " The Chief of Staff?", there is no such title , he is a Legislative Aid. Perhaps this self adoration explains why he needs to build his self esteem up while he continues to release negative campaign literature which many of us are getting tired of. How refreshing it would be to see a campaign where the issues are the focus point, the people deserve better, clean up your act.
ray sperl October 28, 2011 at 01:07 AM
Calarco talks about helping small businesses yet he does not seem to understand the problems businessman John Giannott experienced because of government red tape and bureaucracy. If he did he would not have sent the same lies to residents over and over again. It is insulting and insensitive to all businesses in Suffolk County. Rob just doesn't get it.
joe lucas October 28, 2011 at 11:27 AM
Usually a candidate with nothing to offer runs their campaign based on personally attacking the opposition. It appears that's what Calarco is doing.
Judy Pepenella October 28, 2011 at 01:24 PM
I was at the debate last night. The questions were quite informing..especially the one relating to the "types of campaign mail" that has been sent out. The question was simple. Do you review and approve all mail pieces that go out? Giannott said YES, I review AND approve all pieces. Calarco did NOT say he approved or reviewed but said he was AWARE of the mail pieces. Point Giannott - proven leader who is responsible and accountable for his actions. One question was how are you going to create jobs. Giannott said he wanted to streamline the entire process...Town and County to make all happen within a 30 day window. Calarco said that the the private sector jobs are growing and public and government sector jobs are shrinking. REALLY? Are you talking about OUR LI or one in wonderland? Point Giannott - he is aware of the real world, Calarco, clueless to what is REALLY going on.
Sandra October 28, 2011 at 02:24 PM
I was at the debate as well.Calarco sounds like a complete moron.The fact that he talks like he is some big wig,when in reality he is just an aid makes him look silly.He dances around the real issues at hand!He comes off as clueless and distant.Whenever a candidate chooses to allow mud slinging mail to go out,it makes them look weak.He has no clue what we need,he just wants to keep his job.I am so tired of the BS that goes on in government we need change~we don't need Calarco getting in and doing nothing,we need someone who knows this place grew up here someone who knows what Medford used to be like and how it is today!So everyone be smart this election day,think of our children and grandchildren,who we choose can make the difference for our future!Giannott is the right choice,hands down.
D.Ockers October 28, 2011 at 05:20 PM
Very strange , has anyone seen a glowing endorsement for Calarco from Jack Eddington? You would think working as a man's " Chief of Staff?" for all these years it would have been a given to get this. Sometimes silence speaks louder than words......
PatchogueLifetime October 29, 2011 at 04:57 PM
I too am disappointed by Calarco's choice to go so relentlessly negative in this campaign. That being said, I'm tired of politicians who claim that the BIGGEST impediment to small businesses is government. I'm not convinced of that at all, I think if government had done its job properly to begin with we wouldn't be faced with the terrible recession - which I think is the biggest obstacle for small businesses trying to make it. Banks don't want to invest, so businesses can't expand to create more jobs. I'd love to hear a single SOLID idea from either Calarco or Giannott about how to ACTUALLY enable small businesses in the 7th LD to expand more easily. But I can tell you that if Giannott is planning on trying to DEREGULATE businesses any further, there's no way he should get anyone's vote! Do we want restaurants opening WITHOUT health department inspection and approval? Do we want new buildings built without an engineer certifying that they're structurally sound? I know I don't. I agree that some of the County regulatory processes could stand to be streamlined or at the very least improved upon, but even if you were able to make regulation as efficient as possible -- small businesses wouldn't magically have the capital and confidence necessary to expand. The real problems businesses are facing occur far before they arrive at the County for necessary approvals. I'd love to hear ideas geared at addressing those problems.
dom bonanno October 29, 2011 at 05:52 PM
As a registered Independent who has usually followed a Democratic voting path, I am also surprised and disappointed at the way the Suffolk and Brookhaven Democratic committees have handled campaigning lately. I was surprised and embarrassed to see a billboard sign on Montauk Highway near Lowes proclaiming that all Republicans were corrupt. This strategy is an insult to any voter's common sense. To paint such a broad picture and try to attach this image to a host of new candidates that have never held political office is a smear that may come back to haunt the decision makers handling their candidates campaigns. As a result, I have paid more attention to the way Mr. Giannott and Mr. Calarco have conducted themselves in the midst of this, and I have to say....point Giannott.
John Bogack October 29, 2011 at 08:03 PM
I think the sign has to do with the 4 million plus dollars that County Executive Levy had to return from his campaign funds because seems like he did somethig wrong which is why of course he's not running for office having been pardoned by the DA without a trial. He's a Republican. As for the debate once again it looks like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I was there too. I thought Rob Calarco did well. Obviously at this point in the campaign there's tension and both men are not feeling charitable towards the other. I would have liked to have had some time spent on examining Mr. Gianott history as a "business leader". Having paid his debts back, and becoming a successful business man did he share the fruits of his success with those who work for him? Is there a union in his work place? Do the workers have adequate wages and benefits and job security? How has he treated them in general? I really would like to know because that will tell quite a lot about the man.
john giannott October 29, 2011 at 09:20 PM
Thanks John, please feel free to contact me anytime you want at johngiannott@yahoo.com I would be happy to call you and have a conversation about my businesses. My employees are very well paid. I feel strongly that a happy employee is the best employee. We are all close and my wife and I help out many of them on personal matters as well. I feel this is very important since most of them are young and putting themselves through college or working second jobs to make ends meet. I have attached in the next comment below a letter that a long time employee of mine wrote to the advance a couple of weeks ago. It was un solicited. I hope I answered any questions. And once again please feel free to contact me . John
john giannott October 29, 2011 at 09:24 PM
Who is John Giannott? To Whom It May Concern, I have recently read blogs and articles in which members of the opposing party have tried to tear John Giannott down, taking anything he says and twisting it into negative propaganda. I am so sick of the bipartisan way that people select the candidates they support. Nobody seems to care about the character of the people who are running anymore, just what party they represent. In my opinion, character is something that should certainly be a factor in selecting our politicians. I would like to, for once, be able to actually trust my local government official. I would like to be confident in the fact that he/she is a good person, with morals, and values, who cares about the people, and not their own pocket/personal agenda. Over the past 5 years I have had the pleasure of getting to know John Giannott, as a friend, and as an employer. Here is what I know about his character: John Giannott is the guy you can call when you need anything. If he can’t help you personally, he finds someone who can. He is always the first person to lend a helping hand when someone is in need. He is truly a kind and loyal man and one of the most generous people I know. This goes beyond his friends.
john giannott October 29, 2011 at 09:26 PM
This goes beyond his friends. Time and time again, I’ve watched him selflessly give, share, and help others, some whom he barely knew, and others who he didn’t know at all. Let me share some examples. While working at his local restaurant, I watched people come in for donations on a daily basis for a multitude of causes, from teenagers from local high schools, to girl scouts, to veterans; I never saw him turn anyone away. I’ve seen mentally unstable and handicapped adults wander into the restaurant during business hours aimlessly. Some restaurant owners may have politely asked them to leave, but John sat them at a table and fed them a meal. This happened on many occasions. It warmed my heart to see. John treats his young employees like his own, and truly takes an investment in their lives and their futures. He supports his young employees by attending their sporting events and concerts, organizing collections to send them to camps that they couldn’t afford in order to help them pursue their dreams.
john giannott October 29, 2011 at 09:28 PM
, organizing collections to send them to camps that they couldn’t afford in order to help them pursue their dreams. He has connected other employees to his personal contacts to help them secure internships while home from college, and when my own family suffered a tradgedy, John was the first to send his condolences, provide food, and offer help in any way he could. These are just a few examples to show the kind of man John Giannott is. I realize that although this may speak volumes about his heart, opponents may argue that it says nothing about his politics. However, I beg to differ. I will let John outline his political plans as county Legislature himself, but I believe that his personal characteristics are exactly what is going to make him a terrific County representative. I feel that this illustrates what’s important to him. He is invested in helping all of our most vulnerable members of society; our young, our disabled, our small business owners, and our families. I will support John Giannott all the way. If you ask me, we need a change. We need people who care. We need John Giannott. Thank you for the opportunity to share my view points. Sincerely, Veronica LaBarr; Medford resident
John Bogack October 30, 2011 at 12:35 PM
Thanks Mr. Giannott for the response. Your employee's recommendation also sounds like a recommendation for Commissioner of Social Services but that position is taken. So there is no union at your business but you feel that the employees are otherwise well paid and respected. I have to take your word for it at this point and do so with a hope that is a true representation since if elected you will be taking on responsibility for the well being of 10000 county employees almost all unionized. I will still be voting otherwise but like your employee who knows you I know Bob Carlarco and so our votes are cast based on the experiences we have had. Thanks again for responding though.
dom bonanno October 30, 2011 at 12:50 PM
Mr. Bogack, When you say "you think the sign has to do with Mr. Levy".....how does that confirm the intentions of the broad based slur? Back up your reply with facts.
john giannott October 30, 2011 at 01:36 PM
Thanks John, and just an FYI, I did receive the endorsement from the AME, and the CSEA, as well as the Sheriffs,corrections and park police, the utility union local 393 as well.
jane October 30, 2011 at 03:21 PM
hello, i am just chiming in to say that John and Jenni his wife who i have worked for are probably some of the most fairest and realistic employers around. Not only do you want to work harder for them because they lead by example. I have gotten down and dirty cleanning with jenni numerous times. But they are appreactive to employees who work hard. Those that dont get "cut". simple. So While not the normal campaign jargin, and I dont live in Brookhaven. But while noone is perfect and if elected probably a huge learning cruve for him. I do think that his heart and passion is into this job. And in reality isnt that what you want?
mary michaels November 01, 2011 at 12:50 AM
My my, Mr. Bogack, I've never seen this coarse and rugged side of you come out! You are a downright Tiger! Too bad you are such a left wing, liberal henchman for the Eddington secretary! And I thought you were a moderate minded catch. I guess I'll still be spending my Saturday nights with the ladies playing pinochle or baking rice krispy treats with the grandbabies. Back to the ol'e drawing board!
greatsouthbay November 01, 2011 at 01:32 AM
Mary Mary, we are all growing weary of your accusations; it seems that whenever you disagree with someone you accuse them of being henchmen or women. I say it is time to throw off your disguise of grandbabies and baking and let us know who you really are, at least John posts under his own name...
Tianna Johnsen November 02, 2011 at 10:56 AM
I'm not growing weary of Mary at all! I think she is a hoot and a holler. And as far as throwing off her disguise, I doubt your own name is greatsouthbay.
corey f November 04, 2011 at 12:53 PM
this poll above speaks for itself, people please do not let a career politician who speaks in circles represent us. Lest give the home town guy , local business man a shot , he obviously has our best interests in mind. Listening to Calarco cionfuses me with his rhetoric about politics etc.. he is a joke, giannott hits home and has my vote

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