A call for Gene Cook, candidate for town supervisor, to withdraw because of a remark about guns led to several ugly exchanges Wednesday outside Town Hall.
Former Suffolk County 17th District Legis. Jane Devine, a Democrat, and others with ties to Town Hall, plus several gun control advocates, called a press conference to insist that Cook end his campaign, citing a 1979 hostage situation at Town Hall. But several people carrying signs supporting Republican candidates repeatedly tried to shout Devine and others down, accusing the women of thuggery and character assassination.
Devine said Cook showed poor judgment. “We have all seen the devastating effect gun violence has had on communities throughout the country, so for a public official to make such incendiary comments is irresponsible and wrong. You should never joke about bringing a gun to Town Hall, especially in a place like Huntington where town employees saw it first-hand.”
But Mike McDermott, a former Libertarian candidate who said he plans to run a as Republican next year for Congress in the Third District, said after the press conference that it was “such a hack job. It happened 34 years go. Stating that because Cook made a comment about a gun that it’s going to cause peolpe to come into town hall with weapons” doesn’t make sense. “Gene Cook doesn’t want people coming into Town Hall with guns.”
Sherry Pavone, a retired police officer and owner of several guns, criticized Cook’s remarks as well.
Part of the issue was what Cook said and the context. The quote, which has been used in an ad by his opponent, Town Supervisor Frank Petrone, was, “I think it would be a whole lot easier to carry a gun,” in response to a question about dealing with Town Hall.
Cook told Patch Wednesday that the press conference was a “total Hail Mary pass by a 20-year supervisor and a 16-year councilman to cling on to power. It's obvious the Petrone-Cuthbertson administration that their mutli-decade reign and paid off political donors with town contracts is about to end.”
According to news reports from, a Huntington man took nine Town Hall workers hostage Oct. 10, 1979, at Town Hall because he was unable to qualify for an apartment for himself and his family. After four and a half hours, all the hostages were released unharmed and he surrendered.