Just hours after announcing his candidacy for Suffolk County Executive, Democrat Steve Bellone was joined by some 700 supporters Wednesday evening at a fundraiser at Holbrook's Villa Lombardi.
The 41-year old Babylon Town supervisor officially at the North Babylon Fire Department headquarters, which is located across the street from his alma mater, North Babylon High School.
While the crowd at the fundrasier was much larger than the one he spoke to Wednesday morning, his message remained the same.
"At every point in my life, I have always listened before leading," he said. Bellone referenced listening to his parents, his teachers at North Babylon High School, his wife Tracey, his superiors in the Army and more recently to the voters of Suffolk County.
Bellone recently completed a six-week listening tour of the county, stopping in places less familiar to him such as Central Islip, Riverhead and Farmingdale to hear concerns of local leaders — concerns he echoed in his speeches on Wednesday.
The $300-a-plate dinner also served as a rally for Suffolk County Democrats, who — with no decided Republican candidate for county executive as of yet — took the event as a shotgun start to this fall's election.
Suffolk County Democratic Committee Chairman Rich Schaffer "challenged" those in attendance at the fundraiser to sign up for one campaign outreach effort or another.
"We can party and celebrate here tonight,"Schaffer said. "But if we don't take this energy outside this room and go out and do what we should do to deliver this message that Steve just delivered here tonight, we will fail. And failure is not an option."