In the most profiled race of the year for Suffolk County Executive, Democrat Steve Bellone won handily over his challenger, County Comptroller John Kennedy Jr. (R) with 55 percent to Kennedy’s 43 percent. Libertarian candidate Greg Fischer gained just 1 percent of the overall vote.
Bellone was greeted by enthusiastic cheers at IBEW.
“It turns out that the voters have decided that there is more work for us to do here,” he said. “This will be my third and final term as County Executive, I don’t know what the future holds but it entirely possible that this could be my final race for public office… If that is the case I must give one final thank you to the person who has been with me for every race that I have won.”
He also thanked his opponents John Kennedy and Greg Fischer.
“I look forward to working together to build a better future for Suffolk County.”
Kennedy blamed the incumbent’s near $2 million war chest for the loss, along with negative campaign ads he said targeted not only him, but his wife and children.
He promised he would continue to be a financial watchdog for the county, saying he thinks the county will entire a financial death spiral it may not be able to pull out of.
“The good news is, I get to keep doing the job I love, being comptroller,” he said. “There’s no lack of fraud waste and abuse in Suffolk County, which we demonstrated the past five years.”
After a heated campaign season, and while the vote seemed to be close as they were tallied, Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) defeated her Republican opponent Gary Pollakusky 54 to 41 percent. Libertarian candidate James Kevin, who was not available for comment, gained nearly 5 percent of the vote.
When brought up on stage, Schaffer called her “landslide Anker.”
The 5th time legislator said it was her strong base and work of her campaign that helped pull her through. She added there are numerous projects she hopes to work on in the coming years.
“We have so many projects in the works … We have the Rails to Trails, the park in Middle Island, continue working with the opioid advisory panel,” she said. “There is so much work to do.
I really want to focus on mental health/addiction treatment, tackle the financial issues with the county, be proactive with supporting local business and those mom and pop shops.”
Pollakusky remained gracious after his loss, saying, “I hope Sarah serves her constituents well for our legislative district.” He added he will continue to be active in the community by leading the Rocky Point Sound Beach Chamber of Commerce and serving on the board of the Rocky Point Civic Association.
In the Port Jefferson-Setauket area Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) won overwhelmingly against her Republican opponent John McCormack 63 to 37 percent.
Kara Hahn said she is looking forward to continuing working on several projects including protection of the environment, public safety and the opioid epidemic.
“Those numbers have to come down to zero,” she said. “We cannot accept more opioid deaths. The numbers have fallen a little bit, but we have to continue to work on that. We cannot be losing our children. It’s senseless. It’s preventable. We have to be sure we do what we can on that.”
McCormack was not available to comment.
Thomas Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma) easily won over Democratic challenger David Bligh in the fight for the 4th district with nearly 60 percent of the vote. He thanked his wife and staff and said they would move on “stronger.”
While Bligh lost to Muratore for Suffolk County Legislator in the 4th district, he said he plans to stay in the political arena and to run again.
“Tom’s term limited after this year so there’s going to be an open seat in two years,” he said.
Bligh, an environmental engineer, said he has a long list of quality of life issues that he wants to address, including affordability and water quality issues.
Garcia announced Rob Trotta’s (R-Fort Salonga) 62 percent victory against Democrat Janet Singer, by mentioning Trotta’s propensity to stir the pot. Ever the firebrand, the Fort Salonga resident did not disappoint, getting to the mike and calling the Conservative party “corrupt,” adding “this is about honesty and integrity, and that party is clearly lacking.”
When asked to expand on that, Trotta said, “The entire Conservative party is corrupt, period.”
Singer said she was disappointed as she felt she would be a great legislator but enjoyed campaigning where she learned a lot.
She said before this election cycle she felt Rob Trotta didn’t pay attention to water quality issues. She feels it’s a non-issue for him and that suddenly it’s a “hot topic.” She was surprised water quality was included at the bottom of his campaign ad.
“I don’t really care what party you’re in, water needs protection, and it’s going to need money,” she said. “And he doesn’t want to vote for any expenditures, and we can’t do that.”
Though her husband did not win over the majority of county voters, Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset) still beat her opponent, Democrat Margot Rosenthal, 65 to 35 percent. She said, “We could not have done it without every single one of you,” adding, “while we didn’t get everything we wanted this time, we’ll get it next time.”
For the 16th District, Susan Berland (D-Commack) won out against several-time Republican challenger Hector Gavilla. The race became extremely heated towards the end, with allegations that Gavilla intimidated Berland at a local meet the candidates. Gavilla, on his part, claims Berland’s husband nearly assaulted him.
Schaffer spoke on the incident.
“If you wanted to see probably one of the most despicable races in Suffolk County, was the race that took place in the 16 LD,” Schaffer said. “Let me tell you something, it’s a shame when you happen to have a candidate, a legislator who has been in office for almost 20 years, tell you she’s frightened by her opponent.”
Susan Berland thanked her supporters, staff and volunteers.
“I’m grateful to the residents of the 16th district who have confidence in me to represent them for the next two years.”
William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) easily conquered the vote against Republican challenger Garrett Chelius with 11,998 votes to Chelius’ 6,599.
Chelius was brought up on stage for consolation, and Garcia lauded them for their work in campaigning.
Spencer spoke of his ideas and projects going forward.
“I’m looking towards the future — I want to still focus on our environment, our kids, the vaping/opioid epidemic,” he said. “I think there is a lot of work to be done there. Also, I want to finish some infrastructure projects like the sewers in Huntington Station.”
The lone upset of the night, Republican challenger Anthony Piccirillo won with barely a 1 percent margin against William Lindsay (D-Holbrook). The Democrats have asked for a recount, but if Piccirillo succeeds it would mean the Democrats 11-7 hold on the legislature would become a 10-8, just as partisan divide between officials seems at a near peak. Last year, Republicans and Democrats butted heads over lump bonding issues, with Republicans using their slim minority to block bonds they called were being pushed through by Democrats.
David Luces, Rita J. Egan, Leah Chiappino and Donna Deedy all contributed reporting.