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.”