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Elections

Rich Shaffer at his office in North Babylon. File Photo by Alex Petroski

In the lexicon of tarot, cards used by soothsayers for divination, there are many cards used to describe a person’s lot in life. 

If Rich Schaffer, the Suffolk County Democratic Committee chairman, could be represented by any card, it would be the chariot. Schaffer is at the head of the race, with the Democrats taking majority positions in the New York State Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, but he’s holding onto the reins of two horses, the moderate and far-left elements of his party, and he said his task is to keep both heading in the same direction.

“My job’s been described as the therapist in chief,” said Schaffer, who is also Town of Babylon supervisor. “I’m always either talking somebody off the ledge or helping them through an issue.”

“My job’s been described as the therapist in chief.”

— Rich Schaffer

In last year’s elections, the Democratic Party won big both in New York state and nationally, securing the state Senate as well as the Assembly, and gaining a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. It was a change of pace for the party, which was beleaguered after its loss during the 2016 elections that saw Donald Trump (R) sent to the White House.

In Suffolk County, many GOP members retained their seats despite hard campaigns from the Dems. Longtime Republican representatives such as state Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) kept their seats in Albany, while U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) won out at 51.5 percent against his Democratic challenger Perry Gershon. Still, Schaffer said they have made strides in the county, pointing to the election of state Sen. Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood) who won out over her GOP rival Dean Murray by 2,996 votes.

Schaffer added that he thinks the next time District 1 is up for grabs, it could swing blue.

Suffolk County “has been blue in the past,” the Democratic committee chairman said. 

Specifically, he points to the 35-day government shutdown that was put on hold for three weeks Jan. 25. Schaffer laid the blame for the shutdown at the president’s feet and said his Republican supporters in Congress would take the brunt of the blame.

“What they are doing to people’s livelihoods and their survival is unconscionable,” he said. “A political debate has now turned into almost scorched earth, where people’s lives are at stake.”

On the state level Schaffer said there are, all in all, six Democratic members elected to the state Senate who will represent Long Island, including new members Martinez and James Gaughran (D-Northport). 

This is important to the party commissioner, as in other years when the Democrats had majorities in both state houses, his experience was many of those focused on New York City rather than Long Island’s more suburban elements.

The differences between those two subsets of Democrats is something Schaffer said he’s particularly aware of. Nationally, much has been said about the rise of much more left-leaning Democrats, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx). She has been open about progressive ideas such as universal health care, establishing tuition-free colleges and trade schools, and creating a marginal tax system as high as 70 percent, which would mostly affect those in the wealthiest tax brackets. A bill for single-payer health care is currently being circulated in the state Assembly.

“You can’t have Cortez running in East Northport.”

— Rich Schaffer

Schaffer said he was not against policies such as universal health care, but he wanted the discussion to be had up in Albany about how the state was planning to pay for that program. 

Schaffer also questioned the viability of a Cortez-like candidate in Suffolk County. 

“I mean it’s easy for [Cortez] to speak like she does with the district she comes from, when your main election battle is the primary,” Schaffer said. “When you’re running Suffolk County North Shore and your district is not as friendly registration wise, this gets to if you elect Democrats who support basic Democratic ideas.”

Overall, Schaffer was adamant the best way to win Democratic seats in Suffolk County was to form coalitions, work off core democratic principles and promise to work toward local issues.

“You can’t have Cortez running in East Northport,” he said. “Some people will argue with me that ‘Yes, you can,’ but it has not been my experience out here. That’s not to say we can’t have things on the progressive agenda, but they have to be spoken about in a way that’s going to get you 50 percent plus one.”

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The Port Jefferson Free Library is at the corner of Thompson and East Main streets. File photo

Two spots for trustee on at the Port Jefferson Free Library are coming up for vote in January and five community members are asking library cardholders for their vote.

While current library trustee Christian Neubert is running again for the same spot, trustee Lisa Ballou has decided not to run again for her seat.

Those who wish to vote for the trustees must be a Port Jefferson Village resident and be a cardholder “in good standing,” meaning voters cannot have more than $5 outstanding on their library cards. The vote will be held 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Jan. 9, 2019, at the library.

Christian Neubert. Photo by Kyle Barr

Christian Neubert

As the incumbent, Christian Neubert said he feels he has become intimate with the qualities and the issues of the library over his six-year tenure.

“It’s important to not lose sight of the day-to-day processes we have going on here,” Neubert said.

Neubert said the library is missing out on the demographics of fourth- or fifth-graders as well as young professionals. He said if he were elected, he would work toward reaching out to those groups in conjunction with the library and is thinking of integrating the teen center with the main library building.

Lynn Hallarman. Photo by Kyle Barr

Lynn Hallarman

Dr. Lynn Hallarman, the director of Palliative Medicine Services at Stony Brook University Hospital said she is throwing her hat into the ring based on her unique background looking strategically at programs and institutions, as well as with urban planning, development and programming. Hallarman said the biggest changes will come to the library through urbanization, traffic, an aging population and higher taxes.

“The board has to be extremely forward thinking and out of the box in thinking about how a small-town library will survive,” she said.

Nancy Loddigs. Photo by Kyle Barr

Nancy Loddigs

Nancy Loddigs has been a resident of Port Jefferson for more than 30 years and boasts of her experience working in the libraries at Comsewogue School District and both Port Jefferson and Comsewogue public libraries.

The longtime Port Jeff resident said the library has already done a good job in its programming, with various adult programs being the most popular. She said she hopes those programs continue, but that the library will keep up with changing technology in order to stay current.

“I am interested in seeing how the library would be physically changed by incorporating all of these things,” Loddigs said. 

Wailin Ng

Wailin Ng, an engineer at Brookhaven National Laboratory, has been a Port Jefferson resident for a year, but she has been a patron of the library for close to a decade before that. 

Wailin Ng. Photo by Kyle Barr

Ng said there is potential for growth in the number of educational programs the library provides,

especially those that could get kids interested in STEM.

“We can increase the focus on introducing children to science,” Ng said. “We are in a very diverse community, and we have many people from other districts coming here. We need to assess where our needs are for educational programs.”

Joseph Orofino. Photo by Kyle Barr

Joseph Orofino

Joseph Orofino is a lifelong Port Jefferson resident with two kids currently in the Port Jeff school district. As a person who has worked in finance for 25 years, in both an upper management and on a voluntary basis with several local community organizations, he said he would work to make sure the library stays on top of its finances.

“My contribution could be making sure the library stays fiscally solvent,” he said.

When it comes to renovating the library’s currently owned properties, Orofino said the board should look at it from a long-term point of view.

“We need to weigh in on the existing plans and look at how financially they fit into the library on a long-term basis,” Orofino said.

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

Another school year has begun. In the more than three decades that I have had the privilege of teaching college and graduate students, I have never had a class that I did not love and learn from. I continue to be amazed at their openness and enthusiasm about life.

Their love for others, their concern for the environment and their desire to leave the planet better than how they found it continues to inspire me to do my small part at making the world a better place.

Every fall semester I teach an honors sociology class at Suffolk County Community College in Selden, one of our best-kept secrets in higher education. Usually by my second class, I ask my students how many are registered to vote, and then take a count on how many are not registered to vote. It is always a mix on who is and who is not registered.

After the question about voter registration, I ask how many intend to vote. This semester I was shocked at how many indicated that they had no intention or desire to vote. The conversation that erupted after that statement was deeply troubling. Most of my students feel that their vote is meaningless and that their voice does not matter at all. They believe that our country is led by special interests and not by those elected to represent the people.

Even more disturbing was my question about the issues. What are they? Who do they affect? Some could articulate some of the national issues like gun safety and a broken immigration system. Very few could identify or articulate the local issues like health care, high taxes and affordable housing to name a few. 

What was really troubling is that this group of students who are among the brightest of the bright who may go on to Harvard or Yale, have no foundation on the core values of our nation and how it works.

We in education need to revisit this issue and reassess how we are preparing the next generation of American leaders. What are we doing in our junior high and in our high schools civics classes? Are we teaching our students to be critical thinkers and analytical writers? Are we discussing the important social issues of our times and helping them to understand what it means to be sociologically mindful?

They are the next generation of leaders that need to salvage our democracy and protect human rights for all. We need to work harder to prepare the next generation to become our future leaders. Our democracy demands it and our country desperately needs them.

Fr. Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

Trustee Michael Yanucci not seeking a second term

Shoreham-Wading River board of education president Robert Rose, on left, and second-time candidate James Smith, are running for two open trustee seats. File photos

By Kyle Barr

Two trustee seats are up for grabs on Shoreham-Wading River’s board of education, and running for them are a veteran and a newcomer.

Current board President Robert Rose is seeking another term and second-time candidate James Smith is  seeking election to the board following the stepping down of current trustee Michael Yannucci.
Both candidates are running unopposed.

Yannucci said he decided to not run for re-election so he can spend more time with his young children.

“Despite the fact that we have an uncontested board election this year, residents should continue to stay engaged and attend board meetings,” Yannucci said. His advice to the rest of the board upon leaving is that they should look to engage and communicate with district residents. “Even if they don’t have kids in school, their taxes are still affected by our decisions.”

Rose is running for his third three-year term on the board.

“I decided to run for re-election because I think I add a lot to the board with my experience,” Rose said. “I also really enjoy giving back to my community.”

“Despite the fact that we have an uncontested board election this year, residents should continue to stay engaged and attend board meetings.”

— Michael Yanucci

The board president said he knows his way around schools with his more-than 20 years of experience as an educator. He’s been the assistant principal at Smithtown High School East for the past 12.

“I would like to continue to play a role in making Shoreham-Wading River an outstanding district by working collaboratively with the administration and teachers to develop policies and programs that support student learning and help our students become career and college ready,” Rose said.

Smith, who ran last year unsuccessfully, has been a Shoreham resident for the past six years and in that time has not hesitated to get involved in the community. The father of four enrolled in the district, joined the PTA and became its vice president. He has worked with kids as a coach through Sound Beach Soccer Club and Father Joe’s Soccer. Smith said he wants to push for greater psychological and emotional resources for students.

“I just wanted to have greater input in the district,” he said. “I think the district has made great strides over the last couple [of] years, but I definitely want to see more resources dedicated, especially now in
today’s environment, toward the mental and physical well-being of our students.”

Shoreham Wading-River is including a provision in its adopted budget for hiring an additional psychologist to help with the current workload. There is presently one at the high school, one at the middle school and three shared between the two elementary school buildings. 

Smith said he believes there need to be even more psychologists and social workers engaged with students in school.

“I definitely feel the district needs to shift more toward emotional intelligence,” Smith said. “We’re stretched very thin. We need this emphasis on mental health, especially with all the school shootings we’ve seen over the past few years.”

Board elections will take place with the budget vote Tuesday, May 15 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Shoreham-Wading River High School auxiliary gym, located at 250A Route 25A in Shoreham.

This version corrects how many psychologists there are presently at the elementary schools. 

Longtime trustee Damon McMullan running uncontested for village mayor

Northport Village Hall. File photo

By Kevin Redding

Three candidates — an incumbent and two challengers — are vying for two open seats within the Northport Village Board of Trustees, hoping to tackle financial, safety and quality of life issues within the town. The trustee candidates who receive the most votes March 20 will each serve a four-year term.

Thomas Kehoe

Kehoe is no stranger to the village board, having served as trustee for two terms from 2006 to 2014. He was the commissioner of commerce, police and sanitation.

Thomas Kehoe. Photo from Thomas Kehoe.

While a board member, he wrote the village’s outdoor dining code, created the Northport Business Development Committee, and said he routinely helped members of the local business community, professionals and merchants with any business-related issues in the village. If elected, he hopes to
reinstate that committee and assume the police commissioner responsibilities again.

“I’m looking forward to getting back on the board,” Kehoe said. “I’ve always enjoyed public service and giving back to my community. And plus, I understand business and know how to make things happen.”

As the owner and operator of East Northport-based K&B Seafood for more than 30 years, Kehoe has traveled extensively throughout China, Japan and Russia, importing and exporting seafood and opening up markets. But he said he will focus his time and energy on the local front as trustee. He wants to make sure the Suffolk County Police Department doesn’t take over the village’s police force, preserve Northport’s status as “one of the 50 safest places to live in New York state” as ruled by the National Council for Home Safety and Security and keep the village in the 21st century.

“We want to always be evolving,” he said. “Northport Village is a very unique place. It’s a real melting pot of different ethnic, religious and political groups and there’s a great tolerance and respect here for others.”

Ian Milligan

Milligan, 48, a Northport native and the owner of Harbor Electric Inc. on Willis Street, became a trustee in 2014 after regularly attending zoning and board meetings. He often voiced ideas on how to better the Northport Village Dock.

Ian Milligan. Photo from Ian Milligan.

Upon election, the lifelong boater was appointed commissioner of docks and waterways. He proposed new fees for the dock, which successfully brought more boaters to the area during dinner hours, helped boost downtown businesses and discouraged boaters from docking all day.

He said by talking to hundreds of local boaters, shopkeepers and residents during that process, it prepared him well for his day-to-day tasks as a trustee.

“What I did there is consistent with all issues in the village,” said Milligan, who also served as the board’s commissioner of sanitation. “I always strive to talk to as many people as I can and understand all sides of an issue, then take all the information and share it with the rest of the board, so we can make a decision in the best interest of the residents.”

If re-elected, Milligan said he wants to continue making Northport a safe and healthy environment for residents, keep a line on taxes and roll out new projects — among his most anticipated is the implementation of a rain garden into the village to absorb rainwater runoff and keep the waterfront clean.

“I have enjoyed this work and there is more work to be done,” he said.

Joseph Sabia

Sabia, 62, is a former member of the Northport Police Department, Northport-East Northport school board and owner of Sabia’s Car Care on Fort Salonga Road since 1977. He  said he’s an advocate for the village and wants to work for the taxpayers within it. He believes in transparency, commitment to community, respect and courtesy, and fiscal discipline.

Joseph Sabia. File photo.

“While on the board of education for three years, I watched our tax money and never voted to raise our tax dollars,” Sabia said. “So, I’m very interested in our finances and want to see where our money is going.”

Sabia said besides keeping taxes at bay, he hopes to be able to restore the village’s crumbling roads and sidewalks, bring a full-time paramedic to the village’s firehouse, oversee the upcoming sewer plant project in Northport Bay Estates, and update the village’s antiquated zoning codes and building department.

“We have to move forward and be business-friendly,” he said. “We need people to be able to get building permits in a timely manner.”

Sabia previously ran unsuccessfully twice — against outgoing Mayor George Doll in 2014 and for a trustee seat in 2016. He points to those experiences, as well as his years as a successful business owner and school board member, as building blocks for this election.

“I have skin in the game here, I own a business here, I’m in the village 24/7 and have never left,” he said.

The Vote

The polls will be open March 20, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Northport Village Hall on 224 Main Street in Northport.

Setauket native David Calone, left, barely trails former Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, right, after Tuesday’s primary election. File photos

Polls closed Tuesday at 9 p.m. for the Democratic primary in the 1st Congressional District, but voters still have to wait to find out who will face freshman U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) come November.

Setauket native David Calone trailed former Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst by 29 votes by the end of Tuesday, unofficial Suffolk County Board of Elections results showed, but neither candidate felt comfortable enough to speak definitively about the race.

Unofficial results showed Throne-Holst with 5,446 votes — 50.09 percent of the vote — and Calone with 5,417 votes — 49.82 percent.

Calone, a former prosecutor, venture capitalist, and North Shore native, said his campaign would be waiting for the nearly 1,700 absentee ballots to be counted in the coming week before making any further statements on his status in the primary race.

“We did not have Wall Street fundraisers, and we did not have $720,000 of super PAC funding poured in for us in the last three weeks — but here we are in a virtual tie,” Calone said Wednesday. “I cannot begin to thank all the volunteers and supporters who have put their hearts and souls into this campaign over the past year. Together, we knocked on thousands of doors, held nearly fifty house parties, and made tens of thousands of phone calls to voters in every corner of this district.”

By the end of the primary campaign, Calone received several endorsements from various elected officials and community groups, including state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) and Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station).

Calone has experience working as director of six privately held companies throughout the country and has helped organize the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the U.S. House of Representatives, advocating federal policies that promote job creation through the development of startups and other small businesses. In that role, he helped launch Startup Day Across America, an event to connect federal officials with early-stage companies in their regions. He also founded the Long Island Emerging Technologies Fund, which provides funding to six early-stage companies based on technology developed at Long Island’s research institutions.

Throne-Holst, who received support from Zeldin’s predecessor, former U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and longtime incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) — who Throne-Holst said was pivotal in convincing her to run — spoke with gravitas about her standing after all voting district tallies were in Tuesday night, excluding absentee votes.

“We are waiting for all votes to be counted,” she said in a statement, “but are proud to have a lead at the end of election night. We are confident going forward that victory will be ours now … and in November.”

Throne-Holst co-founded the Hayground School — an elementary school dedicated to supporting children with different learning needs. After serving as a councilwoman, she was the first Democrat to be elected supervisor in Southampton since 1993, overcoming a red-leaning electorate on the East End.

Zeldin unseated the six-term Democrat Bishop by a wide margin back in 2014, with a final vote total of his 54 percent to 45 percent.

“While the two Democrats continue to slug it out against each other beyond a primary with historically low voter turnout, I remain focused on my work to pursue my ‘New Era of American Strength’ agenda to protect America’s security at home and abroad, help grow our economy, support our veterans and first responders, improve health care and the quality of education, repair our nation’s infrastructure and safeguard our environment,” Zeldin said in a statement.

Out in the more western 3rd Congressional District, former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) bested four other candidates vying for the nomination to run for Israel’s seat after the longtime incumbent said he would not seek re-election earlier this year.

The Incorporated Village of Poquott. File photo

There will only be one name on the ballot when residents head out to vote for a mayor in the small North Shore Village of Poquott on June 21, though the race has been anything but uncontested. The same can be said for the two available trustee seats, even though only two names will be on the ballot for those positions.

The plot has seemed at times like it came straight from the popular Netflix series “House of Cards,” which offers what is portrayed as a look behind the curtain of the inner workings of national government and politics. In Poquott the stakes are obviously lower, but after a lawsuit over petitions, closed-door meetings, burned bridges between former best friends and a race between the last two mayors of the village, the tension seems analogous to a presidential election.

Mayoral candidates
Dee Parrish defeated Barbara Donovan to become mayor of the village in 2014. Prior to that Donovan served six two-year terms from 2002 to 2014. Despite being the incumbent mayor and having no desire to step aside, Parrish will not appear on the ballot after a state Supreme Court judge ruled in favor of a lawsuit brought about by Donovan and her running mates. The group calls itself the Party of Unity and Respect, and the lawsuit stemmed from questions about the validity of Parrish’s and three trustee candidate’s petitions. Parrish is still very much a candidate for another term even though residents will have to write-in her name in order to win.

Parrish noted many accomplishments during an interview at Village Hall on Monday, but she said she was most proud of saving the village about $16,000 in her first year and lowering property taxes in her second year.

“That’s enough for me to say I did the best I could,” Parrish said. “I’ve done so many good things that to just stop right now would be a shame, but if that’s what the residents want, I’m okay with it.”

The Poquott resident of 16 years said her focus has always been doing what is best for the village, and win or lose she said she’d like to sit down with Donovan and hash things out.

If Parrish loses, she said she’d offer Donovan a benefit not given to her during her first term two years ago: a transitional meeting. Parrish said Donovan did nothing to make her transition into the position easier when she took over, but that won’t be the case if the roles are reversed.

Parrish studied accounting at Long Island University, where she earned a degree in 1990. She’s worked for her husband Richard’s environmental company in various capacities in recent years, mostly in human relations, she said. She decided to run for mayor in 2014 because she thought the previous administration got “stale” during Donovan’s 12-year run in the position.

In 12 years as mayor Donovan also accumulated a long list of accomplishments of which she’s proud.

In a phone interview on Tuesday she said she helped to bring the village into the 21st century with a website, computers in Village Hall and internal emails for villagers.

“I really feel very strongly about Poquott,” she said. Donovan said her desire to run this time around is similar to what inspired her 14 years ago. “The administration at that time, I didn’t agree with things they were doing. I believe in open communication and transparency. I believe you have to communicate with residents.”

Donovan worked for 30 years in marketing and public relations, and she said those skills made her a natural fit as mayor.

She has also served in the Setauket Fire Department for 28 years.

Donovan said she’s not sure how this campaign cycle became so heated, but she would be willing to a sit down with Parrish at some point to settle their differences and do what’s best for the village.

Trustee race
Sandra Nicoletti is the only incumbent trustee seeking re-election on June 21, though like Parrish, questions about her petition will leave her off the ballot. None of the candidates probed in the suit wished to comment about their petitions.

Nicoletti was best friends with the former mayor, she said.

The retired St. Charles nurse was a trustee during Donovan’s stint in charge, but the two haven’t spoken since Nicoletti decided to run again after Donovan was defeated.

She has lived in the village since 1964 and said the only thing that matters is what’s best for the community.

Nicoletti will need to win as a write-in candidate, which puts her in the same boat as Gary Garofano and John Mastauskas.

Mastauskas is a lifelong Three Village resident and a 1988 graduate from the high school.

The small business owner and father of two who called himself a family man in an emailed statement is running in the hopes of unifying the village.

Mike Schaefer and Joan Hubbard will appear on the ballot and are members of Donovan’s Party of Unity and Respect.

Hubbard has been a permanent resident in Poquott since 2012, though her family has visited for getaways since the 1950s.

She has worked as a village clerk in various North Shore communities, most recently under Donovan in Poquott.

Schaefer has lived in Poquott for 15 years. He worked for Suffolk County in various capacities for 30 years, which he said gives him an advantage as a public servant.

Polls will be open at Village Hall on June 21 from noon until 9 p.m.

Bill Glass is a newly appointed village justice in Port Jefferson. Photo from Glass

By Elana Glowatz

Justice will be served during the Port Jefferson government election later this month, with three people vying to be a village judge.

Bill Glass is a newly appointed village justice in Port Jefferson. Photo from Glass
Bill Glass is a newly appointed village justice in Port Jefferson. Photo from Glass

There are three years remaining on the term of former Village Justice Peter Graham, a judge of more than 30 years who died in office late last year, just months after being re-elected to his position on the bench. Bill Glass, the man appointed to fill in until the next election, is running to be returned to the seat and faces challenges from residents Tara Higgins and Scott Zamek.

Glass, 61, decided to run “because I really enjoy the job and I’d like to keep doing it.”

The lifelong resident, who also has volunteered with the Port Jefferson Fire Department for more than four decades, has a private law practice in the village through which he represents fire and emergency medical service groups throughout Suffolk County.

He graduated from Fordham Law School and once filled the roles of village prosecutor, village attorney and village trustee. He was also previously an assistant district attorney in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, where he worked under village Trustee Larry LaPointe in the Rackets Bureau.

Glass tried to win a village justice seat in 2011, but voters re-elected Graham.

People should vote for the married father of three this time because “I feel like I know the village inside and out,” he said. He has vast experience in criminal procedure law, which is a “key ingredient” in the village court. “I think that I’m … uniquely qualified for the position.”

Tara Higgins is running for village justice. Photo from the candidate
Tara Higgins is running for village justice. Photo from the candidate

Higgins grew up in East Setauket and moved to Port Jefferson 18 years ago, when she got married. The 50-year-old, who graduated from Seton Hall University School of Law, said she spent time in defense litigation for an insurance company before moving on to Islandia-based Lewis Johs Avallone Aviles LLP. She does municipal defense work and civil defense litigation for that firm.

“I just thought that it was a natural progression in my career,” she said about running for village justice. “I’ve tried cases, I’ve written appellate briefs and I thought, ‘Why not?’”

Voters should choose her because she is experienced in the courtroom, she said.

“I’ve spent my entire career in the courthouse,” Higgins said. “There are plenty of lawyers who never see the inside of a courtroom.”

The married mother of two high school kids, whose father named the Tara Inn pub in uptown Port Jefferson after her, said, “I’m hardworking, honest, fair and think I’ve got a good temperament for the position.”

Zamek grew up in the village, graduating from the local high school, and returned with his wife to raise his three daughters in Port Jefferson.

Scott Zamek is running for village justice. Photo from the candidate
Scott Zamek is running for village justice. Photo from the candidate

The 55-year-old graduated from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and has a private practice in Hauppauge where he focuses on transactional real estate. He explained that he represents landlords and developers with buying, selling and borrowing transactions.

He decided to run for justice because he’s always wanted to be a judge and has always been involved with the community, including working summer jobs for the highway department, volunteering with youth sports, helping out with the Port Jefferson arts council and, for the last two decades, serving with the Royal Educational Foundation.

“I think it’s time for me to step up a little bit,” Zamek said. He wants to give back to the village because “I feel that’s something everybody should do. … I want to do what I can to make it as good of a place as possible.”

Voting is at the Port Jefferson Village Center on June 21, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Also on the ballot will be two trustee seats, for which the incumbents are running unopposed for re-election. Bruce Miller is running for his second term on the board and Bruce D’Abramo is running for his fourth.

The Incorporated Village of Poquott. File photo

It is now known whose names will appear on the ballot for Village of Poquott residents when they head to the polls to elect a mayor and two board trustees on June 21.

State Supreme Court Justice W. Gerard Asher ruled Wednesday on the challenge filed by mayoral candidate Barbara Donovan and her running mates Michael Schaefer and Joan Hubbard of the validity of petitions submitted by incumbent mayor Dee Parrish and trustee hopefuls Gary Garofano, Sandy Nicoletti and John Mastauskas.

Justice Asher found in favor of Donovan and her party, according to the state Supreme Court office. Parrish, Garofano, Nicoletti and Mastauskas will not appear on the ballot.

Donovan, Schaefer and Hubbard, known as the party of “Unity and Respect,” filed the challenge to the petitions because they believed the petitions contained errors, and names and signatures submitted may have been photocopied, Donovan told Newsday in May.

Since the challenges were filed, tension has spread within the tiny community that falls within the Town of Brookhaven. On June 1, Parrish and the rest of the current board, which includes Nicoletti, called an emergency meeting to discuss what action they would take in response to the challenge filed by Donovan and her party. Donovan served as the village’s mayor for years until Parrish defeated her in the 2014 election.

At the beginning of the meeting, the board immediately moved into executive session behind closed doors, leaving community members frustrated and searching for clarity.

When they returned, the board briefly discussed their options regarding the challenge, before voting to allow for additional expenses incurred as a result of the suit against the village and Village Clerk Joe Newfield regarding the petitions to be covered. The meeting was adjourned and no public comment was allowed. Parrish and Village Attorney Joe Prokop declined to comment about the situation after the meeting.

Parrish commented on the legal battle on June 2 via email.

“It is unfortunate that a group that has based their platform on respect and unity has managed to disrespect the residents in the Village of Poquott through the filing of this suit,” she said.

Parrish sited a possible chilling effect that the suit could have on potential candidates in the future as a harmful precedent for the village to set.

Village resident John Hahm, unsatisfied with the outcome of the June 1 meeting submitted a letter to the Village Times Herald on June 2.

“Challenging petitions is not a political strategy, it is a demand for accountability when a person deliberately disregards the law,” Hahm said. “Two of the petitioners happen to be current board members who promised open and transparent government. Surely they could have produced their petitions before acknowledging that the challenges were detrimental to the spirit of an election.”

Robert Lifson, attorney for Parrish and her running mates said Wednesday in a phone interview he was “disappointed” by the ruling. He wouldn’t specify his clients’ plan of action going forward, but suggested an appeal was possible. Lifson also said it’s not beyond the realm of possibilities to win a village election without being on the ballot. He said he advised his clients to drop their defense prior to the ruling because the costs to fight the suit would be too great.

File photo
Grace Marie Damico, St. JamesGrace-Marie-Damico-Presidential-Primaries_2016_05_barkleyw
Q: Will you vote in the primary?
A: Yes.
Q: Why?
A: Because I think that the country is in dire straits right now, and the more people that get out and vote for who they prefer, the better the country will be. Hopefully we can bring this country back.



John Hayes, CoramJohn-Hayes-Presidential-Primaries_2016_04_barkleyw
Q: Will you vote in the primary?
A: Yes
Q: Why?
A: Because it’s too dangerous not to vote. It’s a very important election. I believe Donald Trump is a very dangerous man. I believe that every vote counts against him. If you don’t vote, it’s a vote for Donald Trump.



Charles Spinnato, Port JeffCharles-Spinnato-Presidential-Primaries_2016_06w
Q: Will you vote in the primary?
A: Yes. I want to choose who I want to vote for [and] who I want to be the nominee for the Republican Party. So I would vote in the primaries to make that choice. [It’s a] very interesting election this year.



James Turrill, MasticJames-Turrill-Presidential-Primaries_2016_01_barkleyw
Q: Will you vote in the primary?
A: I’ve never voted in the primaries before but I want to.
Q: Why?
A: I’m fed up with politicians. Look what [U.S. President Barack] Obama has done to this country. He’s destroyed it. I want somebody not like him.

By Giselle Barkley

The 2016 U.S. presidential candidates from both sides of the aisle made their way to New York to continue rallying support this week.

And by next Tuesday, New Yorkers can make a difference when they vote for their nominee in the closed primary.

Suffolk County Republican Chair John Jay LaValle said this is the first primary in three decades where New York State’s vote is this relevant.

“By the time the vote gets to New York, it’s usually over and it’s a functional exercise when the candidates run,” LaValle said.

When asked how running in New York differed from campaigning in other states, LaValle said, “New Yorkers like to hear it straight.” The Republican chair added that voters in this state are very engaged, intelligent and are more skeptical when it comes to casting a vote.

But Lillian Clayman, chair of Brookhaven’s Democratic Committee said “unless there’s this huge ideological chasm with the candidates,” running in New York isn’t much different than in other states.

The presidential primaries allow voters to help determine the presidential nominees for their respective parties. Of the nominees, GOP frontrunner Donald Trump is doing well on Long Island, LaValle said. He added that people are getting tired of hearing the typical political rhetoric they hear from the other 2016 presidential candidates.

Although Clayman said she doesn’t know what’s to come for next week’s primaries, she said Democratic nominees, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) have energized residents, even those who usually don’t vote during the primaries.

Registered voters can choose their nominees on Tuesday, April 19.

Visit elections.ny.gov for more information on deadlines and where residents can vote.

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