John Giannott lost his Blue Point ice cream business in 2007 when the Suffolk County Department of Health's long regulation process forced him to shut down for several months.
If elected to the Suffolk County Legislature, Giannott wants to change the rules so small businesses can open faster, with fewer hiccups along the way.
Giannott, a Republican, is running against to replace Jack Eddington, , in the 7th Legislative District, which includes Patchogue, Medford, Holtsville and Blue Point.
Giannott is a graduate of Patchogue-Medford High School's Class of 1989 and has been a Patchogue resident his entire life. He owns two businesses in Bellport. Giannott feels that being a small business owner gives him a closer perspective on the needs of the community.
“I’m from this community," he said. "I’ve seen what it once was and I’ve seen where it is today and it’s all business based."
Giannott said that while sales tax revenue is the largest source of income to Suffolk County, it can take six months for a small business to open. Giannott blames wasteful spending as a large reason why local businesses have difficulty getting off the ground.
“In my business, I’m in the restaurant business, you need to do whatever you can to bring in your income, the county’s not doing that, we need to start treating it like a business,” Giannott said. “I know career politicians don’t like to hear that, but you have to cut the wasteful spending.”
One of Giannott’s ideas is to consolidate the County’s departments.
“Our Board of Health department is spread out in 9 divisions all over the county," he said. "If they were under one roof you get a double whammy there. You're going to save a ton of money, they are going to be on the same page, they are going to speed up the permit process and get a small business opened up faster which will create jobs and immediately start some sales tax revenue."
Giannott cited his own personal experience with the inefficiency of the Board of Health when he opened an ice cream store in Blue Point. He said the store was initially regulated by the Department of Agriculture, but three months later the Board of Health decided to regulate the store.
“They told me I had to shut down and wait four to six months before I could be re-permitted," Giannott recalled. "Nobody can afford to shut down their business four to six months and wait for a permit without ringing up a $3 ice cream cone."
His ice cream business went under.
“That’s exactly what the county is doing, they are putting people out of business,” Giannott said.
Giannott also wants to offer tax incentives for new businesses to occupy empty storefronts instead of issuing new building permits. He would like to broaden the horizons of Brookhaven Town's "Blight to Light" program, which has removed abandoned structures like .
" wants to plow down acreage of beautiful pine trees that we have over on Hospital Road, when we have an outlet center that's boarded up just sitting there," Giannott said of the closed down Bellport Outlet Center.
While Giannott acknowledges that Walmart does not want the outlet center, he said that other businesses could move into the space there instead of building a new structure.
Giannott's own headquarters is located inside of one of the former car dealerships that closed down in Medford on Route 112.
Election Day is next Tuesday.