In a strong rebuke of the current handling of the Highway Department in the Town of Southeast, the local GOP committee denied incumbent highway Superintendent Michael Bruen the Republican nomination last week.
Republican challenger Michael Burdick easily clinched the GOP committee’s nod last week when the committee met to hand out endorsements as political season gets started earlier thanks to the primary election date being moved up to June. Burdick was endorsed 31- 10 over Bruen, who has been leading the department since 2013. Burdick has worked for the Southeast highway department for 23 years and recently moved back to Brewster after living nearby for many years.
Adding insult to injury, Bruen is on the Southeast GOP committee while Burdick is not.
When reached for comment, Burdick said he was “pleasantly surprised” by the outcome considering this was his first time in front of a political committee and did not know what to expect.
“I was confident I was prepared but unsure of what the outcome would be,” Burdick said in an email. “I conveyed to the committee in what direction I would like to see the Highway Dept. go now and where I see it in the future. With the vote being 31 to 10 the committee must feel that I am the most qualified candidate.”
An email to Bruen was not returned by press time on Monday and calls to the highway department Monday were not picked up.
In an interview last month, Bruen said he was the most qualified to run the department because he has been the leader of it the past several years. He was originally appointed to the position in 2013 and then earned a full term in 2015. He said the department has implemented practices that maintain safety, efficiency and cost effectiveness since he took over.
Other Republicans earning the GOP committee’s support included town board candidates Edwin Alvarez, an incumbent, and John O’Conner, Supervisor Tony Hay who is seeking reelection, Michele Stancati for town clerk, and Paul Jonke for his county legislative seat.