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Republican

The Republican Party of the Town of Smithtown appears split as there is no clear winner in the town supervisor primary Sept. 12. File photo by Phil Corso

No clear winner has emerged in the Smithtown Republican primary for town supervisor as a narrow 39-vote margin at the close of polls Sept. 12 left the outcome undecided, pending a count of absentee ballots.

Smithtown Councilman Ed Wehrheim (R) holds a razor-thin lead on incumbent town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio (R), 2,822 votes to 2,783, in the unofficial election results posted Sept. 13 by the Suffolk County Board of Elections.

“By definition, it’s too close to call,” said Nick LaLota, the Republican commissioner for the county board of elections. “The number of paper ballots outstanding exceeds the margin of victory by machine. It is literally too close to call.”

LaLota said the board of elections has received 322 absentee ballots as of Sept. 13. He said he expects the county may still receive a few dozen additional ballots over the next week. Absentee ballots must have been postmarked by Sept. 11 and received by the county by Sept. 19 to be valid.

“I am confident that we will remain victorious once they are opened,” Wehrheim said Wednesday morning.

The councilman said his campaign, along with Smithtown Republican Committee Chairman Bill Ellis, ran an extensive absentee voter outreach campaign leading up to the primary race.

“A lot is going to depend on how the absentee ballots go,” Ellis said in a phone interview. “We worked aggressively and I believe a lot of the absentees we had contact with voted for the entire team.”

LaLota said he anticipates by Sept. 25 the Suffolk County Board of Elections will have all the voting machines and paper ballots to be checked, and will have given sufficient notice to both campaigns in order to begin counting absentee votes.

The process of counting paper ballots involves opening each absentee envelope, allowing the ballot to be reviewed by a board of elections inspector and campaign observers, potentially including attorneys representing the campaigns. If there are any objections to the validity of a ballot it will be recorded.

The final outcome of the primary race may remain unknown until late September.

“With 300-plus ballots, I’d assume it’s going to take a few days,” LaLota said. “Attorneys have been known to gum up the process.”

Vecchio wrote the primary’s outcome was “still questionable” in an email statement, and that he was uncertain about the odds of being declared the Republican candidate after the absentee ballots were counted.

This is not the first time Vecchio has been challenged by his own party in a primary for town supervisor. In 2013, he faced off against former town councilman Robert Creighton (R) and prior to that, Jane Conway in 2005. In both of these primaries, Vecchio had a decisive victory at the polls.

“Against both Jane Conway and Bob Creighton, the results were substantially in Mr. Vecchio’s favor,” Ellis said. “Never has he lost on the [voting] machines to anyone.”

If Wehrheim remains victorious, he will be running for Smithtown town supervisor on the Republican, Conservative and Independent party lines in November.

Wehrheim currently has approximately $59,000 available in his war chest to spend on the general election, according to the 11-day pre-primary financial disclosure report filed with New York State Board of Elections.

“We won’t start campaigning until [the absentee ballots] are opened,” Wehrheim said. “Once they are open and the decision is finalized, then we will begin to carry on for the general election if we are the successful candidate.”

The winner of the Republican town supervisor primary will face off Nov. 7 against Democratic Party candidate William Holst and Kristen Slevin, running under her own None of the Above campaign.

Smithtown Town Hall. File photo

Four Republican candidates — two incumbents and two challengers — are ready to face off Sept. 12 to get their name on the party line this November. There are two seats that are up for grabs on the Smithtown town council, each for a four-year term.

Bob Doyle. Photo by Nicole Garguilo

Bob Doyle

Doyle, 66, of Nesconset, has 37 years in law enforcement under his belt. He  is a former Suffolk homicide detective and served in the U.S. Army during Vietnam. He created what became the Suffolk County gang task force and has spent most of his career bringing MS-13 gang members to justice.

As president of the Country Pointe Homeowners Association, he  has experience running a large sewer treatment plant. Doyle said he is determined to bring sewers to the three downtown hamlets.

If elected, Doyle said he wants to restore the town’s infrastructure — including its curving roads and sidewalks — bring in smart business development to the downtown areas, and create a more transparent town board.

“Don’t you want to elect a new team that has the leadership, the vision and the energy to accomplish that?” Doyle said. “I’m hoping, ultimately for a clean slate because we need to get the job done for the citizens of Smithtown. I’m ready to hit the ground running once I’m sworn in.”

Tom Lohmann. Photo by Johnny Cirillo

Tom Lohmann

The former member of the New York City Police Department and current investigator for the county district attorney’s  insurance crime bureau said he’s stepping into the political arena for the first time because he’s unhappy with how his town’s government has operated in recent years.

“Smithtown used to be the town that most townships wanted to emulate,” Lohmann, 59, a Smithtown native, said. “We had bustling downtown districts and it was just a great community. But over the years, I don’t think the town has kept up with the influx of people and our streets, ball fields and marinas are not what they once were.”

Lohmann said he hopes for a more transparent, committed and cohesive town board if elected.

“We still don’t even have sewer systems,” he said. “In good conscience, I was no longer going to stand by. I have the work experience and leadership to do things. I’ve always been a doer and the time for talking is over, it’s now the time for action.”

Tom McCarthy. File photo

Tom McCarthy

McCarthy, a former local business owner who has served on the town board since 1998, wears a lot of hats at town hall. He has spearheaded multiple recent projects, such as planting more than 100 trees throughout Smithtown, pushing the infrastructural rebuilding of Lake Avenue in St. James, and has been evaluating the possible purchase of the administrative building from the Smithtown school district.

The Nesconset native also serves as deputy town supervisor and is actively working to develop sewers with $40 million in state funds, which will be split between Kings Park and Smithtown.

He said he would look forward to another four years on the board with Supervisor Patrick Vecchio (R) and Nowick.

“We just want to continue making Smithtown greater,” McCarthy said. “Financially, we’re in the best shape the town has ever been in, we have a triple A bond rating, and a tax decrease coming up in 2018. There’s so much positive going on right now and it is not time for a change.”

Lynn Nowick. File photo

Lynn Nowick

A lifelong resident of St. James, Nowick, a former county legislator and tax receiver for Smithtown, followed in the footsteps of her father, the late Councilman Eugene Cannataro (R), when she ran and was elected to the town board in 2013.

In her 22 years as an elected official, Nowick said she has been a strong advocate for open space and preservation, in areas like Head of the Harbor and the Nissequogue River. She championed much of the current sewer project and revitalization efforts in Smithtown, Kings Park and St. James.

If elected, Nowick said she wants to continue to keep taxes low, get sewers into the downtown areas and maintain Smithtown’s quality of life — which she considers to be a major priority among residents.

“When it comes down to it, it’s about the parks, the beaches, the golf courses, sidewalks, roads, and if we can get sewers and our downtowns back up, it’s going to be a bonanza for the town,” Nowick said.

Go Vote

Polls will be open for primaries Sept. 12, 6 a.m. – 9 p.m. Town of Smithtown residents are eligible to vote in the town council race if: you are a registered Republican, are at least 18 years old, have lived at your current address at least 30 days before the election, and not been in prison or on parole for a felony conviction.

To double check if you are registered to vote, check on the state’s website at voterlookup.elections.state.ny.us/votersearch.aspx.

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Smithtown Town Hall. File photo

Two elected Republican officials will face off against one another in the Sept. 12 primary to see who will get the party line in this November’s election for Smithtown town supervisor.

Incumbent town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio (R) is being challenged by Councilman Ed Wehrheim (R) who received the Smithtown Republican Committee’s official nomination at the party’s convention May 30.

Pat Vecchio. File photo

Patrick Vecchio

Vecchio, 87, is the longest-presiding town supervisor in the history of New York state. First elected in 1977, he announced his intention to seek re-election to his 14th term in May.

“For 40 years I’ve stood on these steps to be sworn in [and] you may be wondering why,” Vecchio said in May. “I do it because I love to help people and truly love what I do, and each day that I go to work has been a pleasure. [Sure], there have been times I’ve thrown the phone book on the floor and slammed the telephone down, but I still love what I do and want to continue working with these people to make this the best town, not only in Suffolk County but maybe in New York state.”

Under Vecchio’s leadership, Smithtown stands as one of the most fiscally stable municipalities in the county with a triple-A bond rating. There was no tax increase on residents in 2017, and it’s predicted that there won’t be a tax hike in 2018 either.

The Town of Smithtown was also the first municipality in the state to pass the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, giving credit to Vecchio’s environmental record. The supervisor has also passed several initiatives to provide affordable housing for senior citizens.

Ed Wehrheim. File photo by Rohma Abbas

Ed Wehrheim

Wehrheim has served on the town board since April 2003 when he was first appointed by Vecchio to fill the seat left by state Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-St. James). He now seeks to unseat the man who appointed him.

“I believe people are ready for a new beginning, and that’s across the gamut,” Wehrheim said.

The councilman has served as the director of parks, building and grounds in the Town of Smithtown managing an $8 million budget and frequently works with other departments.

However, he said over the last eight-to-10 years he’s seen a gradual deterioration of the parks and community spaces within the town.

“We need to begin to levy our triple-A bond rating and low debt to begin to upgrade our parks and recreational facilities,” Wehrheim said.

If elected supervisor, his other goals including bringing greater transparency to town government and the implementation of a business advisory council to aid in the creation of new development plans. Much of this, Wehrheim said could be possible with recent state funding given to the town.

“We need an energetic, full-time town board to begin to wisely use that money to improve Smithtown wisely,” he said.

Go vote

Polls will be open for Sept. 12 primaries, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Town of Smithtown residents are eligible to vote in the supervisor race if a registered Republican, are at least 18 years old, have lived at the current address at least 30 days before the election, and not been in prison or on parole for a felony conviction.

To double check if you are registered to vote, check on the state’s website at voterlookup.elections.state.ny.us/votersearch.aspx.

By Rita J. Egan

A local activist group is asking a Long Island billionaire and his daughter to stop funding the alt-right.

According to a press release from the North Country Peace Group, Robert Mercer, billionaire co-CEO of the Setauket-based hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, and his daughter Rebekah have allegedly contributed millions of dollars to alt-right causes due to his alliance with the online media company Breitbart News.

The group held a rally in front of the company’s entrance on Route 25A Aug. 23 because members feel Breitbart News has provided a forum for white supremacist, sexist and other racist voices.

Approximately two dozen protesters were in attendance with signs in tow. During the rally, Charles Perretti of Setauket grabbed a megaphone and addressed the crowd.

“What does [the Mercer family] want?” he asked. “They want to control the public dialogue. They want to advance their attitudes and values at the expense of true representative government and the spirit of one man and one vote.”

Perretti said Mercer supports the current Republican presidential administration, referring to that of President Donald Trump (R).

“What do we want, the people on the corner?” he said. “We want concern for the common good.”

The statement inspired protesters to respond repeatedly: “Concern for the common good.”

In recent months, the local peace group has organized or participated in several rallies covering various topics including Trump’s proposed transgender military ban, climate change, alleged use of force by police and a sister event to the Women’s March on Washington.

Peace group member Rosemary Maffei, of Setauket, has been in attendance for much of the group’s protests. She said attending political demonstrations is something she feels she needs to do for herself personally and for the country, and she appreciates being around like-minded residents.

“I feel it’s important to let people see that there is resistance to Trump and the Republican Party, especially here on ‘red’ Long Island,” she said. “Sitting home and doing nothing while the country is being torn apart is something I don’t understand.”

Mercer did not respond to a request sent through an executive assistant at his company for comments about the rally.

This post was updated Aug. 30.

 

Sarah Anker talks local issues at a debate at Times Beacon Record Newspapers. Photo by Elana Glowatz

By Kevin Redding

As Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) gears up to run a campaign in the hopes of serving the 6th District for a fourth term, two political newcomers — Republicans Gary Pollakusky and Frank Vetro — also each hope to occupy the seat in November.

Anker, who assumed office in 2011 and won her last election by a total 19 votes, said the most important part of running for public office is knowing the community. As someone who’s lived in the area for more than 30 years, she said her experience “literally trumps the [predominantly Republican] political system.”

“I will continue to do my job working for the people and not for the party,”
said Anker, who founded the Community Health and Environmental Coalition, advocated to build Heritage Park in Mount Sinai
and created the Jobs Opportunity Board connecting graduating seniors with local jobs. She has also provided sports safety forums to local schools to prevent deaths and serious injuries among student-athletes, helped reduce county government costs by streamlining services, and takes pride in being heavily involved with civic groups and always being accessible to constituents.

The legislator said she wants to build a stronger economy by revitalizing our communities, sustaining the district’s environment and continuing her work in the prevention and intervention of those addicted to opioids.

“I think I’ve proven myself through my past experience [through] community advocacy and by getting the jobs done,” she said. “I’m here to serve for our quality of life and environmental legacy.”

Gary Pollakusky

Gary Pollakusky

Pollakusky, 41, a Rocky Point resident who served as campaign manager for Anker’s 2015 Republican challenger Steve Tricarico, and recently secured the Republican nomination, said he believes Suffolk County is in the greatest physical crisis it has ever faced in our history.

“After 10 years of Democrat control … we have an opioid problem that is out of control, and gangs and drugs are pushing into our community like they belong here,” he said.

If elected, he said he aims to fix the county’s outstanding debt, eliminate excessive fees, make the area more affordable to its seniors and young people, stamp out the opioid problem and do more to support small businesses.

As the self-starter of Media Barrel LLC, a Rocky Point-based marketing and advertising business that strives to solve problems for companies and various local organizations, Pollakusky said his business experience and community activism will support his candidacy and ultimately his election.

“Beyond the barbecues and concert series are very important issues that need to be addressed,” Pollakusky said. “How are we going to get out of debt? How are we going to inspire companies to stay in Suffolk and on Long Island? This is what I do for a living. I help businesses solve problems by giving them solutions. I will bring business into the county, and work on our debt and balance our budget.”

On his opponent, Pollakusky said while Anker is well meaning, he said he thinks she’s misguided and ineffective.

“I help businesses solve problems by giving them solutions. I will bring business into the county and work on our debt and balance our budget.”

— Gary Pollakusky

“We’re in a pretty sad state,” Pollakusky said. “Not a lot has changed in our county since 2015. You know we’ve hit rock bottom when our county legislator is more concerned with making a pocket park surrounding a boulder than figuring out ways to actually retain the structural deficit. We’re drowning in debt and she wants to sink us with a rock.”

Upon graduating from Cornell University with a bachelor of science degree in industrial labor relations, Pollakusky ran the human resource department of AHL Services before working at Columbia Business School as assistant director of admissions.

Outside of his small business, he said he created the nonpartisan North Shore Community Association in 2013 to tackle community problems through transparency and advocacy, including educational drug forums. He was recently among Long Island Business News’ 40 Under 40 Awards list.

A former resident of Long Beach, Pollakusky and his wife, Jeanine, moved to Rocky Point after Hurricane Sandy destroyed their home. He said he loves the hamlet’s close-knit community.

“We love our open space, our beaches, our main street, small-town lives and the people,” he said. “We have such amazing people here that would do anything for their neighbors. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.”

Frank Vetro

Frank Vetro

Vetro, 45, the host of a LI News Radio show, a real estate agent and longtime educator from Miller Place, is currently in the process of gathering petitions to run against Pollakusky in the September primary. He said although he isn’t used to the political world, speaking publicly to residents on the radio for years pushed him to throw his hat in the ring.

“My listeners, after hearing me day in and day out, would always say, ‘Why don’t you run? You should run, you’re passionate, you really care,’” said Vetro, who wants to stamp out county corruption. “I have always fought for underdogs.”

He also discussed keeping the area affordable to those young and old.

“A last straw for me was that me and my family are so close, and a lot of my family is moving off Long Island because of the cost of living and better opportunities elsewhere,” he said. “I’m losing them and I can’t take it anymore — the taxes, the mismanagement, people being in office and leadership positions not on their merit but because they knew somebody. When is enough, enough?”

Vetro said his daily experiences, educating and rehabilitating young gang members and drug addicts, give him an advantage over other politicians.

“I think when you have your finger on the pulse and you’re in the trenches doing it, it gives you a better understanding of what’s going on,” Vetro said.

“A last straw for me was that me and my family are so close, and a lot of my family is moving off Long Island because of the cost of living.”

— Frank Vetro

As a principal at Hope House Ministries School, Vetro said he works with youth in great crisis, some of whom have been kicked out of school, and he helps them get reacclimated to a “normal” life. He said working with recovering addicts puts him in close quarters to what he sees as a major problem in New York.

“My body of work sits hand in hand with what’s going on on Long Island,” he said of the opioid crisis.

His job as a realtor, he added, gives him hands-on knowledge of the housing market.

In 2006, while principal of Hampton Bays High School, Vetro was arrested for alleged phone harassment of several women. He pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges, which were later reduced to violations. Ever since, he has been fighting corruption in the court system and rebuilding his life, and even wrote a book last year called “Standing on Principal,” detailing his arrest and injustices he faced.

“I know about Suffolk County corruption better than anybody and what I do to help people and what I stand for … I really, in my heart, believe that I’m the most qualified,” he said.

Republicans Phil Boyle and Larry Zacarese and Democrat Dan Caroleo are running for Suffolk County sheriff. Photos from left, from Phil Boyle, Larry Zacarese and Suffolk Democratic Chairman Richard Schaffer

Three candidates are currently in the race to become Suffolk County sheriff this November. State Sen. Phil Boyle (R-East Islip), career law enforcer Larry Zacarese (R), Boyle’s Republican primary challenger, and retired New York City police officer Dan Caroleo (D) are each hoping to inherit the position held for 12 years by Vincent DeMarco (R), who announced in May his decision not to seek a fourth term. He declined to comment on his decision.

Boyle, 55, of Bay Shore, who was elected to the New York Senate in November 2012 after serving 16 years as a state assemblyman, was endorsed for sheriff by the Suffolk Conservative Party in March and was backed by both the Republican and Independent parties soon after.

If elected, Boyle, a stepfather of two, said he wants to run the sheriff’s office in the most cost-effective manner possible, promote people based on merit rather than politics and halt the rise of drug overdoses and gang violence. He recently co-sponsored a bill to ban the sale of machetes to minors, the weapon of choice for MS-13 gang members.

The senator, who chaired and helped create the state Senate’s Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction in 2013 to stamp out the growing drug problem, pointed to his active involvement pushing law enforcement issues in Albany as significant qualifiers.

Under the task force, 18 hearings were held across the state, which led to 11 prevention, treatment and enforcement measures passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

When it comes to immigration issues, Boyle said he disagrees with how DeMarco has run the jail.

“I work closely with federal immigration agents to make sure any individuals housed in the Suffolk County jail that agents may want to interact with due to immigration status have access to that,” Boyle said. “DeMarco, for a while, made the jail a sanctuary jail, in my opinion, and I’m definitely not going to allow that to happen.”

Zacarese, 43, of Kings Park, who is currently the assistant chief of  the Stony Brook University police, said he’s looking forward to the primary. Zacarese and his “army of volunteers” are currently gathering 2,000 signatures in order to run. Confident he’s not just another choice, but the better choice, for the top law enforcement job, Zacarese outlined his 25-year law enforcement career.

He started as a Holbrook volunteer fireman at 17, went to paramedic school, then began to work in the NYPD as a patrol officer, canine handler and tactical paramedic. He became a sergeant, then deputy chief fire instructor at the Suffolk County Fire Academy and an adjunct lecturer at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Stony Brook University.

For four years, while working at Stony Brook by day, Zacarese pursued his shelved passion, attending law school by night. He is currently admitted to practice law in the state.

“My wife tells me I’m the biggest underachiever she knows,” the father of four said, laughing. “I’ve worked really hard rounding out all of the areas that are pertinent to the office of sheriff, which is much more than just the person who oversees the correctional facilities.”

He said, if elected, his main priority is the opioid crisis.

“We really need to take a better look at the prevention and collaboration between addiction programs and not-for-profits, as well as how we can influence treatment while people are being incarcerated,” he said. “It’s about [providing] help while they’re in jail so when they return to their communities, they have started on the path to recovery.”

Suffolk County Democratic Committee Chairman Richard Schaffer, campaign manager for Caroleo, 62, of North Babylon, who was unavailable for comment, said the former New York City police officer, director of security at the North Babylon School District and current member of the district’s school board has, “a wealth of experience, he’s well-rounded and I think he can work cooperatively with, and continue, what County Executive Steve Bellone (D), Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini, and DeMarco have laid out — making sure we continue to drive down jail population.”

According to Schaffer, “Caroleo feels he has a great deal of public safety experience” that he could bring to the sheriff’s department.

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How is it possible that every single Democrat thinks Betsy DeVos, the newly minted secretary of education is woefully unqualified for the position and every single Republican — except for Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine — thinks she’s worthy of the job?

President Trump came to Washington to drain the swamp and to reinvent politics but, at least as far as DeVos goes, this seems like politics as usual. Does this vote presage an era when Republicans and Democrats will, for the most part, stick with the party line, whatever that is?

For the Democrats, is it more important to stand against a secretary the Republicans see as worthy? For the Republicans, did they not see any risk to the education system, or was it more important to stand with Trump?

This country is far from unified, as we demonstrated in November. It’s only gotten worse since then. Both sides are digging in their heels even deeper, preparing for a tug-of-war over the future of the nation.

We are living in a world of facts, alternative facts, fake news and fake tweets. The reality, however, is that we are a house divided. A 51-50 vote makes that resoundingly clear. Wasn’t it Abraham Lincoln who said that a house divided unto itself cannot stand?

Is there a middle ground? Are there ways to walk a mile in each other’s shoes, to see the world through a different perspective or, at least, to respect the process and make independent decisions?

Do we elect our officials so they’ll vote along party lines? If that’s the case, who are we electing? Shouldn’t these senators represent our interests and not demonstrate some loyalty to a party whose entire platform might not be consistent with what We the People believe?

Events in Washington are unprecedented. DeVos is in, thanks to the tiebreaker courtesy of Vice President Mike Pence who voted with his party and with his president.

If I were a political leader from my state, I might take this unprecedented period of discord and find a way to reach across the aisle to my adversaries. It’s not just for the good of the country, it would be a career maker. Imagine if a bill, a person or a policy had bipartisan support?

Suddenly, we’re not the Shepherdsons and Grangerfords, the Hatfields and McCoys, or the Montagues and the Capulets. Someone, somewhere needs to find a friend in Washington and, no, I don’t mean a dog who can co-sponsor legislation and demonstrate true leadership.

Pick an issue, any issue. Job growth? Sure, it’s one of the main items on Trump’s agenda. Education? Well, sure, that’d be nice, but we seem to have come to reached a chasm wider than the Grand Canyon with the approval of DeVos.

Maybe a Democrat and Republican can co-sponsor a way to support the military? Both sides appreciate, support and respect the men and women who protect our nation. It was also the military that beat back the guilt-by-association tactics of Republican Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the early 1950s during the Red Scare.

Let’s raise that flag together and salute the men and women we all cheer during Veterans Day parades, and who we stand and salute at sporting events for their service to our country.

These challenging times present unique opportunities. The future leaders of this nation will be the ones who can show a readiness to get along and think for themselves. A Trump presidency should free other politicians to believe in themselves and their ideas and find other leaders, even someone from the other side, to work for our common good.

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, the incumbent, will continue to represent the 1st Congressional District. Photo by Alex Petroski

Results of the Nov. 8 election have America seeing red.

While President-elect Donald Trump (R) won the presidency with 279 Electoral College votes to Hillary Clinton’s (D) 228, many of the North Shore races produced Republican victories as well.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) was one of the Democrats who survived. He outscored his Republican challenger Wendy Long 59.94 to 38.26 percent, according to the Suffolk County Board of Elections. New York State Sens. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and John Flanagan (R-East Northport) earned fresh terms, as the public reelected the incumbents.

“I am so gosh darn proud to be a Republican, to be here working with you,” Flanagan said. “Let’s keep pulling ahead.” He thanked everyone for joining him at Mirelle’s Restaurant in Westbury and congratulated his fellow local Republican politicians while the audience continued to cheer him on.

Assemblyman Andy Raia addresses the crowd. He will be entering his ninth term. Photo by Kevin Redding
Assemblyman Andy Raia addresses the crowd. He will be entering his ninth term. Photo by Kevin Redding

Flanagan won his race 63.57 percent to his Democratic challenger Peter Magistrale’s 32.46 percent. LaValle earned 67.18 percent of the vote to Democrat Gregory Fischer’s 32.73 percent.

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), another incumbent who kept a firm grasp on his seat, applauded his opponent following his victory.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to represent the 1st Congressional District,” he said during his speech at The Emporium in Patchogue. “A powerful message was sent across New York.”

That message was the sea of red that swept across not only the state but also the nation.

“We are going to have a new president of the United States, and his name is Donald J. Trump,” Zeldin said prior to the national election results. “We’re going to make American great again.”

Zeldin defeated his Democratic challenger Anna Throne-Holst handily with 58.93 percent of the 1st district’s votes. The congressman also mentioned in his speech his desire to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Throne-Holst honored the results of the election and conceded the race.

“Suffolk County represents the very fabric of America, with hardworking men and women determined to support their families and build a democracy that moves our country forward and makes our communities stronger,” Throne-Holst said. “I’d like to thank everyone who has supported our campaign over the course of this incredible journey. It is our collective vision of a fair and unified America that will guide the road ahead and shape the future for our next generation.”

Throne-Holst said in a statement she will continue to fight for families and children in future pursuits, and added she is honored to have the faith and confidence of men and women throughout the 1st district.

“May we come together in the wake of this divisive campaign season,” Throne-Holst said, “to establish a more resilient country for us all.”

“It is our collective vision of a fair and unified America that will guide the road ahead and shape the future for our next generation.”

— Anna Throne-Holst

Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), another Democrat who won a seat on election night, will succeed Rep. Steve Israel in the 3rd district. He fell short with Suffolk County voters, 48.27 percent to Republican challenger Jack Martins’ 51.68 percent, but when coupled with his Queens votes, he bested Martins 52 to 48 percent.

“This race has really been about the values my dad taught,” Suozzi said during his post-results speech at The Milleridge Inn in Jericho. “I’m going to need everyone in this room to help me because if I stick my head up and say something that’s not the normal thing to be said, they’re going to try and smack us down.”

He added regardless of the results of the presidential election, “we really need to do some soul searching.” He referenced figuring out what will happen with health care coverage, the shrinking middle class, immigration reform, climate chance, gun violence and the tax code. He added there’s more important work to be done.

“We have to figure out what’s going on in the country,” he said. “We need to figure out how to bring people back together again to work together.”

In local races for the State Assembly, incumbents continued to sweep the North Shore.

Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) edged his opponent 58.91 percent to 41.03 percent to continue representing the 4th district. His challenger, Steven Weissbard, called the assemblyman a “goliath,” and added, “If you want to win, you can’t be afraid to fight.”

Anna Throne-Holst, Democratic nominee for the 1st Congressional District, addresses the crowd following her loss on election night to incumbent Lee Zeldin. Photo by Lloyd Newman
Anna Throne-Holst, Democratic nominee for the 1st Congressional District, addresses the crowd following her loss on election night to incumbent Lee Zeldin. Photo by Lloyd Newman

Incumbent Mike Fitzpatrick (R-St. James) outscored Rich Macellaro 69.81 to 30.17 percent in the 8th district to earn his eighth term in the Assembly. Chad Lupinacci (R-Huntington Station) won the 10th district with 58.24 percent of the votes over Democrat Ed Perez for his fourth term, and Andy Raia (R-East Northport) will enter his ninth term in office after garnering 65.26 percent of voters’ support over Spencer Rumsey (D) in the 12th district.

“Chad and I — we do our thing, we go to Albany and beat our heads against the desk with the supermajority of New York City,” Raia said during his postelection speech at Huntington Station’s VFW Post 1469. “But we make sure that your voice is heard day in and day out, because you’re what it’s all about. You’re the reason we live out of a suitcase six months out of the year — because you’re the bread and butter of this.”

Robert Murphy (R) will continue to patrol the highways of Smithtown as its highway superintendent. He reigned over Justin Smiloff (D) with 69 percent of the votes.

Candidates on both sides viewed this election season as a turning point for the state and country.

“It’s not about us candidates, it is about all of you here together and fighting this good fight and wanting to make change, and wanting to make sure that we are representing the people that we know need good representation,” Throne-Holst said during her speech at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 25 in Hauppauge. “We need to bear in mind that we are about unity. We are about moving forward. We are about public service. We are about the issues that matter.”

Her opponent expressed a similar sentiment.

“When we wake up tomorrow,” Zeldin said, “we have to come together.”

Rebecca Anzel, Victoria Espinoza, Donna Newman, Alex Petroski and Kevin Redding contributed reporting.

Hillary Clinton’s lead in the polls at this point in the election cycle hardly guarantees victory. Image by Mike Sheinkopf

By Helmut Norpoth

Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer and, in presidential election years, the traditional beginning of the general election campaign. At this juncture Nate Silver’s popular website, FiveThirtyEight, has all but anointed Democrat Hillary Clinton as the inevitable winner over Republican Donald Trump in November. The 538 forecast based on an aggregation of polls gives Clinton a 70 percent chance, give or take a point, to defeat Trump. It is a victory not only in the popular vote but also in the Electoral College. The polling averages produced by RealClearPolitics and The Huffington Post agree. They all have shown a Clinton lead for months, punctured only briefly when Trump clinched the GOP nomination in primaries or won it at the Republican National Convention. Polls are shining a bright light on Clinton’s prospects while casting a dark shadow on Trump’s. So it seems. How serious should we take these poll-driven forecasts?

By now we have lived with scientific polls in American presidential elections for 80 years. It started in 1936, when George Gallup conducted the first poll of a representative sample of American voters. For the record, he got it right that year. Few readers may be old enough to remember. Franklin Roosevelt was running in 1936 against … quick, who was the Republican opponent? OK, it was Alf Landon of Kansas. FDR led him in every poll conducted by Gallup and won in one of the biggest landslides — a great start. Gallup would not always be so lucky. In 1948, his polling consistently showed Republican Tom Dewey defeating Democrat Harry Truman, the incumbent president, who wound up with the victory on Election Day.

Back to Labor Day. At this point during the 2008 election cycle, Republican John McCain was ahead of Democrat Barack Obama 49 percent to 44 percent in the Gallup poll. Many probably don’t remember it. McCain’s lead was famously trumpeted as a “game change,” triggered by his choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate. The strong showing of the GOP ticket in the polls raised the hopes of the McCain camp for a victory in the November, while unnerving the Obama camp. Then the economy took a sudden nosedive as Lehman Brothers collapsed and Wall Street crashed. As the candidate of the White House party, on whose watch this calamity occurred, McCain saw his fortunes tank in the polls. It also did not help that Palin, his vice-presidential candidate, came across as clueless and tongue-tied on television in interviews with Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric. So, real-life events unfavorable to the White House party and missteps in the election campaign combined to reverse a lead in the polls that one side, McCain in this case, enjoyed at the beginning of the general election campaign. Lesson: Beware of pollsters bearing election forecasts eight weeks before Election Day.

Helmut Norpoth is a political science professor at Stony Brook University and has designed models to forecast elections in the U.S. and abroad. He will be contributing ongoing election analysis ahead of the 2016 election.

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As the primary season in New York comes to a close, with real estate mogul Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton winning the night for the Republicans and the Democrats, respectively, one of the more lingering questions is whether to have open or closed primaries.

New York has a closed primary system, meaning only voters who are registered with a certain political party may vote in that party’s primary. That left millions of independent voters out of the race entirely, making many call instead for an open primary, in which voters are not required to declare an affiliation before casting a vote in a single party’s primary race.

If they had gotten involved earlier, those independents did have methods to participate in Tuesday’s primary, if they so desired. Their deadlines to register with the Board of Elections passed in October.

Our editorial board does not support an open primary. People not affiliated with an institution should not have equal rights to its members to decide how that institution should run and who should lead it.

An open primary also leaves room for abuse. The voting system in New York — and nationwide — has already seen its fair share of that, with issues like dead people somehow casting ballots in presidential races. In an open primary, less honest people would vote for the weakest candidate in one party just so the nominee they support in the opposite party has a better shot at winning. That’s not fair and it’s not the way our system should work.

New York’s primary voting system is best in its current form. Let’s leave the party votes in the hands of its actual members.

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