Suffolk County Legislator Rob Calarco was elected to office in November 2011 and has defined himself as an energetic leader who will deliver solutions to the communities he serves. He is now in his second year of leading the Suffolk County Legislature as its Presiding Officer after his colleagues first elected him to the role in 2020. Previously, he served for four years as the Deputy Presiding Officer and for two years as the Majority Leader.
Legislator Calarco has spent nearly 20 years working in county government. During his near-decade-long tenure as a Legislator, he has delivered a number of legislative victories and projects for the 7th Legislative District, including:
- Introducing legislation to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for the over-prescription of opiate drugs, contributing to the epidemic
- Passing legislation to increase the amount of affordable housing in Suffolk County and ensure that units are available to those that need it most
- Addressing overcrowded housing and increasing public safety in Gordon Heights
- Securing funding for eradicating invasive species and cleaning up Canaan Lake after decades of neglect, a project that came to completion in early 2021
- Passing campaign finance reform legislation that reduces the maximum contributions from donors, limits the amount of money campaigns can spend, and creates a fair election matching system that gives small dollar donations from voters a greater voice
- Passing a major reform and oversight package over the Asset Forfeiture Fund to ensure that public servants are using money to work for the public and not enrich themselves
- Finding a new home for the historic Carnegie Library
- Hosting the Medford Concert Series working with the Medford Chamber of Commerce and Medford Taxpayers and Civic Association
- Brought millions of dollars of improvements to his district to enhance the quality of life of all residents of the 7th Legislative district
He has accomplished all of these things while working to craft and pass balanced budgets that have not raised General Fund property taxes.
Legislator Calarco is currently leading the effort to re-purpose the old Blue Point Laundry property, to continue the revitalization of East Main Street, Patchogue, effectively address problem rentals in Gordon Heights, bring economic development along the Bellport Montauk Highway corridor, and crafting a regional approach for job creation.
As the Legislature’s Presiding Officer, Legislator Calarco has navigated the legislative body through the unchartered waters of the COVID-19 pandemic. He has been heavily involved in the county’s emergency response, has been a supportive arm for legislators, and has been a fixture in communicating guidelines to the public and advocating for their needs during these difficult times. He also led efforts to conduct virtual legislative meetings and allow the public to testify remotely during public hearings and public portions. When he first became Presiding Officer, he raised the issue of diversity to a legislative committee-level discussion and has since supported several diversity and inclusion efforts. One of his priorities has been promoting openness and transparency in government, and he has delivered in 2020 with initiatives such as sponsoring a law to provide taxpayers with clarity in the use of tax dollars to support Suffolk County Community College. He also spearheaded the creation of a Vanderbilt Museum Enterprise Fund that will draw from the museum’s endowment for capital projects, reducing the museum’s reliance on county funding.
Prior to becoming Presiding Officer, Legislator Calarco chaired the Government Operations, Personnel, Information Technology and Housing Committee as well as the Budget & Finance Committee; was vice-chair of the Public Safety Committee; and served on the Public Works, Transportation and Energy, Education and Human Services, and Ways and Means committees.
Under his leadership, the Budget & Finance Committee convened a working group to review Suffolk County’s spending on outside Contract Agencies and make recommendations on how the contracting process can be improved. That report can be found here.
Legislator Calarco is a member of several organizations and committees as a representative for the Legislature. These include Environmental Trust Review Board, Soil and Water Conservation District, Suffolk County Sewer Agency, and Open Data Committee.
After earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science at Dowling College he went on to earn his Master’s Degree in Public Administration from SUNY Stony Brook at night while working full time.
Legislator Calarco lives in Patchogue Village with his wife, Laura, his daughter, Alma Rosa, and his two sons, Patrick and Bodhi. They enjoy walking to the parks and caring for their vegetable garden.
Legislator Calarco grew up in Auburn, New York. As the middle son of a first-generation Italian-American employed as a firefighter and a stay-at-home mom who helped support her family as a seamstress, he watched his family struggle to make ends meet and contributed to the household with whatever small jobs he could obtain. He learned early the values of hard work and respect for all people. Inspired by his father, who served 34 years in the Auburn Fire Department and lead the effort to unionize the department, and by his grandfather who, as Superintendent of the County Parks Department, helped to lead the restoration of Emerson Park on Owasco Lake, Legislator Calarco comes to public service naturally.
Legislator Calarco is currently a member of several community and fraternal organizations, including St. Sylvester’s Knights of Columbus, Sons of Italy Sgt. John Basilone Lodge, the Greater Patchogue Historical Society, the Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce, Medford Chamber of Commerce, Bayport-Blue Point Chamber of Commerce, Gordon Heights Chamber of Commerce, and the Patchogue Garden Club. He attends mass with his family regularly at Our Lady of the Snow Catholic Church in Blue Point.