A Smithtown lawyer is hoping to achieve something new in the town by becoming the first female supervisor.
Maria Scheuring recently won the approval of Democrats during the June primaries and will be running on Election Day to unseat town Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) who is seeking his second term.
If she wins, Scheuring will be the first female supervisor in the Town of Smithtown, and the first Democrat to win since Patrick Vecchio ran in 1977. He switched to the Republican Party in 1990, his run in 1977 making him the first Democrat on the Town Council in 16 years.
Scheuring said “it’s about time for some female representation” and whether a candidate is Democrat or Republican shouldn’t matter.
“In a town that is majority female, we deserve to have our voices heard,” the candidate said. “Since this is a town race, it should not be partisan. To me, it doesn’t matter, Democrat or Republican, because national issues simply do not correspond to our town’s issues. What does matter is values, commitment and transparency. That’s what I want to bring to Town Hall.”
Despite the Republicans’ stronghold on Smithtown, Rich Schaffer, chairman of the Suffolk County Democratic Committee, believes Scheuring has a lot to offer the town.
“Maria’s experience as an attorney and small business owner, and her involvement in the Smithtown school district supporting and advocating for music education makes her an exemplary candidate to bring new leadership to the Town of Smithtown,” Schaffer said in an email. “Maria’s strong roots in the community and incredible work ethic is going to not only motivate Dems to come out and vote, but also give her the cross-party support she needs to win the race.”
Scheuring moved to Smithtown from the Bronx in 2006. While she spent most of her formative years in the borough, moving there when she was 12, she was born in Poughkeepsie, and in her earlier years, she moved around to a lot to places such as New Jersey, Texas and Mexico City.
Her parents were Catholic missionaries who both held doctorates in theology and eventually taught at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, where Scheuring earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She said with her sister and brother being close in age to her, that was the only option, since her parents couldn’t afford college for all three at the same time, and they could go to the university for free since their parents taught there.
After achieving her master’s degree, she went on to Fordham University School of Law and obtained her doctorate. She was an assistant district attorney for the Bronx District Attorney’s Office for a few years, before working as an associate attorney for private practices and eventually opening up her own law office.
The divorced mom of three teenagers said her legal career covers everything from guardianship to visiting clients in nursing homes to looking over music contracts. She said her love of music started when she was 11 years old and picked up a guitar. She was in school bands throughout high school and college. While her career plans took another direction, she’s involved in Patchogue’s Alive After Five music series and has enjoyed teaching at Musicology in Smithtown.
Run for supervisor
The candidate said her son Maddox, who interned for Nancy Goroff who ran for U.S. Congress last year on the Democratic ticket, turned her onto politics. Scheuring said he was participating in a Zoom meeting when she heard they needed people to run for Smithtown Town Board.
“I feel like I’m at the point where my kids are getting older and one just graduated high school,” she said. “Should I move or should I do something to try to make it a little better?”
She decided to try to do something to make it a better place to live. She said she feels Smithtown residents have so much at stake.
“You invest so much in this town and in your property and community, but what are you getting back?” she said.
Among her goals, if elected, are downtown revitalization, protection of the environment, affordable housing and transparency. She said like many she feels there are too many abandoned storefronts in the town.
“There are a lot of abandoned storefronts,” she said. “I don’t think that there’s any incentive to get restaurants here.”
She added she went to Bay Shore one night and thought of restaurants in Smithtown that left the town and reopened elsewhere. She said other areas have more restaurants and a livelier evening environment and in turn bring in more revenue and have a stronger community.
She said she believes that most people want to live in a more vibrant town, and while they may not want it as developed as Patchogue, they would be open to something like Sayville or Bay Shore.
“Those are nice towns, those are not overdeveloped,” she said.
She also added that many of the proposed housing in the area is not as affordable as developers have promised. She said revitalization should include discussions with community members including civic groups.
Scheuring also added that she feels the proposed Flowerfield development in St. James isn’t good for the town. Plans include the building of an assisted living facility as well as a hotel and sewage treatment plant.
“Whatever they want to do there, I don’t know how anyone could agree with that,” she said. “There’s just no feasible way that could keep this town the way it is. I think a lot of people are against that no matter what party affiliation.”