Voters in Nassau and Suffolk counties are hitting the polls to cast their ballots in local races across Long Island this Election Day, with unseasonably mild temperatures and sunny skies in the forecast for this first Tuesday in November.
Voter turnout, which has reportedly been steady throughout the morning in scattered precincts, is expected to be pivotal in several key match-ups.
The most-watched race on LI is for the Nassau County District Attorney post. At the top of the ticket on the other side of the county line is the Suffolk County Executive race. And scattered across the Island are county legislative seats, judicial and town-level contests—some of which could tip the balance of power.
“With so much at stake in this election… we will do everything we can to make sure that every eligible person who wishes to vote—no matter what their party—gets that opportunity,” said Nassau Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs.
Acting Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas, who is running as a Democrat to keep her job for the next for years, is up against Republican Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray, who leads Singas by one percentage point, according to a recent Newsday/News 12/Siena College poll that has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.
On eastern LI, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, a Democrat who is seeking re-election to his second term, is facing off against James O’Connor, a Republican former Town of North Hempstead councilman trying to unseat him—although he has an uphill battle, polls show.
A key race in Bellone’s backyard is between Suffolk County Legis. Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst), the legislature’s GOP minority leader, and the Democratic challenger, Deputy Suffolk County Executive Tim Sini. A Republican winning the district in which the Democratic county exec lives proved an upset two years ago. But on top of seeking a second legislative term, McCaffrey is also up for re-election as president of Teamsters Local 707, the union that represents workers in various industries in the New York Metro area.
Meanwhile, Suffolk Republicans hope to pick up at least one more seat in the 12-6 majority held by the Democrats and their third-party allies. That’s because under legislative rules, Democrats can currently vote to borrow funds without Republican support. But, if the GOP picks up at least one seat, the majority will have to negotiate with the minority to pass borrowing measures.
That puts all eyes on the race to replace term-limited Legis. Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk). Bridget Fleming, a Democratic Southampton town councilwoman, is vying to keep that seat in the majority’s hands. She’s running against Amos Goodman, a financial consultant and political newcomer from Springs—also the first openly gay GOP candidate for county office on LI.
Republicans also hope Steven Tricarico, deputy superintendent of highways for the Town of Brookhaven, can unseat two-term Legis. Sarah Anker (D-Mt. Sinai), where registered GOP voters outnumber Democrats. But if none of those seats change hands, some say the consolation prize for Republicans could come in a race where there’s no GOP candidate.
First-term Legis. Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood), a Bellone ally who two years ago unseated wildcard lawmaker Rick Montano—a Democrat who didn’t caucus with his own party—conceded an elections lawsuit challenging the legitimacy of her nominating petitions, effectively handing her Democratic line to her primary opponent, Giovanni Mata, a Montano ally also from Brentwood. Martinez may be running on the third-party line, but she’s still got the backing of Suffolk County Democratic Chair Richard Schaffer, who accused Mata and Montano of working with Republicans—an assertion Suffolk Republican Chair John Jay LaValle has denied. Apparently the only way to know for sure will be if Mata wins.
On the town level on the East End, Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter lost the local Republican party’s nomination and a GOP primary challenge to Riverhead Town Councilwoman Jodi Giglio. Walter, who’s now running on the Conservative Party line, hopes voters will re-elect him following a recent announcement that he helped lure an aerospace company to Enterprise Park at Calverton, aka EPCAL. Giglio maintains that it’s time for a new town leader.
Back in Nassau, one legislative race without the advantage of an incumbent is in district six, where Legis. Francis X. Becker (R-Lynbrook) is retiring. The candidate running to keep the seat in the hands of the legislature’s Republican majority is C. William Gaylor, a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel, attorney and former judge also from Lynbrook. His opponent is Democrat James Paymar of Rockville Centre, a former TV news anchor and ex-corporate spokesman-turned media consultant.
Republicans hope to bolster their 12-7 majority—one seat shy of a supermajority that would Democratic support to pass borrowing. Their best bet may be the race in which freshman Legis. Ellen Birnbaum (D-Great Neck) seeks re-election and her GOP challenger, Lisa Benjamin, tries to capitalize on a controversy surrounding Birnbaum making insensitive remarks that resulted in her temporarily being barred from her own caucus. Cassandra Lems, a Green Party candidate from Herricks, is also running in that race.