Registered Democratic voters will cast their ballots Tuesday in five Long Island primary races that will decide which New York State legislative candidates are among the choices on Election Day in November.
The match-ups include a three-way Democratic primary in the lone LI state Senate race up for a vote on Sept. 13 and four primaries in local state Assembly races—two in Suffolk County and two in Nassau.
The trio running to challenge freshman state Sen. Tom Croci (R-Sayville) includes former Suffolk Legis. Rick Montano (D-Brentwood), attorney Joseph Fritz, also of Brentwood, and John DeVito, a law student from Mastic Beach. In the other two Democratic primaries in Suffolk, Giovanni Mata, a publicist from Bay Shore, is challenging seven-term state Assemb. Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood) while Jordan Wilson Jr., a recurrent candidate from North Babylon, is challenging freshman state Assemb. Kimberly Jean-Pierre (D-Wyandanch). Republican opponents have yet to emerge in either of those Assembly races.
In Nassau, Carmen Piñeyro, a Freeport village trustee, is challenging the Democratic nomination of Deputy Speaker Earlene Hooper (D-Hempstead), who was first elected to the state Assembly in 1988, with the winner facing perennial Republican candidate Cornelius Todd Smith of Lakeview. And former Nassau Legis. Jeffrey Toback is challenging Democratic nominee and fellow Long Beach resident Anthony Eramo in the race for the state Assembly seat vacated by state Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach), who replaced disgraced ex-Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) this spring. The winner of that primary faces Republican candidate Michelle Miller of Atlantic Beach and Green Party hopeful Joseph Naham of Long Beach on Nov. 8.
Related: An Inside Look At How Skelos Trial Exposed Slimy Side Of NY Politics
What follows is our annual voters’ guide to the candidates in the September primaries:
NEW YORK STATE SENATE 3RD DISTRICT
This 66-year-old Brentwood resident and ex-Suffolk County lawmaker, who was unseated three years ago after a decade in office, is mounting his second attempt to win a State Senate race after losing a bid for Islip Town Supervisor last year. In 2012 he challenged then-Assemb. Phil Boyle for the seat vacated by the late Sen. Owen Johnson. The former federal prosecutor was the only Democrat who didn’t always caucus just with the Democratic majority in the county legislature. Now that he’s out of elected office, he’s applying that independent streak to the local political party, which he’s been shaking up by rallying candidates to run in primary challenges against some Democratic nominees. If elected, he hopes to better serve the district’s disadvantaged minority communities.
A Mastic Beach native, DeVito, 25, is a law school student making his first run for elected office. Aside from volunteering as a Democratic committeeman, he has also worked for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and in the Nassau County District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau. If elected, he would work to repeal Common Core, ban outside income for state elected officials and curb the influence of special interest groups in Albany. Regardless of whether he wins the Democratic line in the primary, he will appear as the Working Families Party candidate on Nov. 8 ballots.
Fritz is a 71-year-old private attorney and Democratic committeeman from Brentwood who has run for various elected offices over the years. He was previously elected to the Brentwood school board. He also served as a hearing officer for the district and Nassau County. If elected to the state Senate, Fritz intends to use the position to bring more resources to communities that have been left out in the past. Regardless of whether he wins the Democratic line, he will appear on November ballots as the Women’s Equality Party candidate.
NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY
A 60-year-old retired Suffolk County police detective who lives in Bay Shore, Ramos is running for his eighth term representing the district that encompasses the northwest corner of the Town of Islip. He’s pushed legislation to help crack down on illegal guns so they don’t fall into the hands of gangs and backs the Dream Act. In addition to serving on the ways and means, aging, education and local government committees, he was also named deputy majority leader last year. He is also running on the Working Families and Independence party lines.
This 37-year-old publicist and El Salvadoran immigrant from Bay Shore is making his second run for office. Last year, Suffolk Legis. Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood) conceded the Democratic primary to him when he challenged her nominating petitions in court, but Mata lost on Election Day when Martinez was re-elected on minor party lines. Mata is a former chair of ex-County Executive Steve Levy’s Hispanic advisory committee and later joined Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano’s administration as a Project Director at the Office of Minority Affairs. Mata describes himself as a strong advocate of Hispanic rights.
This 32-year-old freshwoman lawmaker from Wyandanch represents the district that includes western and northern halves of the Town of Babylon . She previously served as an aide to Suffolk County Legis. DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) and U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) before working at the Town of Babylon’s Industrial Development Agency and leading the Wyandanch Community Resources Center. She sits on the Assembly’s economic development, mental health, local government, transportation and banks committees. Her priorities include bringing higher-paying jobs to her constituents, ensuring that her district’s schools get a fair share of aid and championing the rights of minorities. She is also running on the Working Families and Independence party lines.
Jordan K. Wilson Jr.
Wilson, 53, of North Babylon, is a mental health counselor making his latest run for office after prior bids for Suffolk County legislature and county comptroller. He has previously served as a Democratic committeeman, Town of Babylon assistant, county legislative aide and Long Island Regional Planning Board consultant. If elected, he said his top priority is combating public corruption by passing legislation that helps counter the influence of money in politics in addition to advocating for criminal justice reform, infrastructure reform and education reform.
This 77-year-old Hempstead resident is running for her 15th full term representing the district that includes central Nassau County. After winning a special election in 1988, she worked her way up the ranks to become the deputy Assembly speaker, making her the highest ranking woman in the state Legislature. A social worker by training, she has been an administrator in the state Department of Social Services, Division of Children and Family Services. She touts her support of women’s equality, minorities and small businesses. Hooper is also running on the Women’s Equality Party line.
A 40-year-old mortgage banker and immigrant from the Dominican Republic, Piñeyro is the first Latina ever elected to the Village of Freeport Board of Trustees, where she’s serving her second term. She was previously elected to the Freeport Board of Education, where she rose to the rank of board president. She is involved in many community and civic organizations pertaining to Hispanic affairs, women issues, youth issues and immigrant concerns. If elected to the Assembly, she hopes to bring more school funding to the district as well as jobs and youth outreach.
Eramo is a 42-year-old Long Beach city council member who was re-elected to his second term last year. He is also a field technician for Verizon, where he is chief shop steward for his union. He touts his experience in helping the city recover from Superstorm Sandy as giving him the credentials needed to bring good jobs and tax deductions to the district, which includes the full length of Long Beach Island as well as the southwestern corner of Nassau County. He is also running on the Working Families, Women’s Equality and Independence party lines.
A 56-year-old former Nassau County legislator who was unseated 13 years ago, Toback, of Long Beach, is a private attorney. During his terms as legislator, Toback described himself as the “Quality of Life Guy,” supporting preservation of environmentally sensitive areas, as well as the law that banned smoking in restaurants to reduce the effects of second-hand smoke. If elected, Toback plans to bring reform to Albany through nonpartisan redistricting and reform the formula by which New York State allocates school aid.
-Compiled by Timothy Bolger and Michael Bakshandeh