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U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin

The 16-year-old twin daughters of U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY1) called 911 the afternoon of Sunday, Oct. 9, after two people were shot outside his home in a drive-by shooting.

Zeldin and his wife, Diana, were returning home from the Bronx Columbus Day Parade in Morris Park, according to a statement from the congressman, when his daughters, who were home in Shirley, heard gunshots and screaming outside at approximately 2:19 p.m.

“After my daughters heard the gunshots and the screaming, they ran upstairs, locked themselves in the bathroom and immediately called 911,” Zeldin said in the statement. “They acted very swiftly and smartly every step of the way, and Diana and I are extremely proud of them.”

Two individuals were shot and laying under Zeldin’s front porch and the bushes in front of his porch.

“My understanding is that they have been transported to area hospitals,” Zeldin said. “I do not know their identities.”

The congressman said he and his family were working with investigators, and he would provide security footage from his home cameras.

“My daughters are shaken, but OK,” he said. “Like so many New Yorkers, crime has literally made its way to our front door. My family is grateful to all who have reached out and we will provide another update when we can.”

Later that day Suffolk County Police Department released a press release about the Shirley shooting. Two teenagers from Mastic and Mastic Beach were injured during the incident, according to SCPD.

Three teenagers were walking on the street “when a dark-colored vehicle went by and an occupant fired multiple gunshots through the vehicle’s window at 2:19 p.m.,” the statement read. “Two 17-year-old males were struck and attempted to hide in the yard of a residence on the street. The third teen fled the scene on foot.”

SCPD said they do not “believe there is any connection between the shooting and the residence” in Shirley.

Police are asking anyone with information to contact 7th Squad Detectives at 631-852-8752 or Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS (8477). All calls will remain confidential.

Zeldin is the Republican gubernatorial candidate. He marched in the New York City annual Columbus Day Parade on Monday. 

This post was updated Oct. 10 to add information from the SCPD.


Gov. Kathy Hochul. File photo by Julianne Mosher

Local elected officials are joining forces to tell Albany that their towns and villages will not lose zoning control.

During her State of the State address, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) spoke of creating more affordable housing options. When the 2022 State of the State book was released, the proposed plan, found on pages 130 through 131, stated that it would require all towns and villages in New York state to allow accessory apartments, which in turn would effectively eliminate single-family zoning laws.

The proposed plan spurred Town of Brookhaven officials to call a press conference Feb. 3, while others have spoken out via statements. The proposed legislation would require municipalities to allow one accessory dwelling unit using backyard cottages, attics, garages and basements. The plan is one that the State of the State describes as providing “an affordable multigenerational housing option that helps families live closer together.”

While local municipalities would still have a say in minimum and maximum size requirements, local zoning authorities would not be able to prevent reasonable new construction, the governor said.


In the Town of Huntington, accessory apartments may be allowed when someone listed on the deed resides at the dwelling. The living space cannot be less than 300 square feet or more than 650 square feet and must have two bedrooms or less. The accessory apartment must be attached to the home.

Supervisor Ed Smyth (R) is against Hochul’s plan.

“This is an election year overreach by the governor that no one in their right mind should support,” Smyth said. “It has bipartisan opposition at all levels of government for good reason: It would eliminate local control of development and hand it off to extremists in Albany.”

At press time, Huntington announced they would be part of a county press conference on Feb. 10 to comment further on the issue.


In the Town of Smithtown legal accessory apartments with a valid mother/daughter permit from the Building Department are the only ones permitted with limited exceptions including older two-family homes that were grandfathered in. Rules differ in the town’s villages.

Town of Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) said in a statement he fears stripping local zoning control “would only result in a mass exodus.”

“The harsh reality is that Long Island, especially Suffolk County, lacks the modern infrastructure to handle the population increase which this proposal would create,” the supervisor said. “The environmental impacts alone should terrify every Long Islander. We have outdated wastewater systems underground, roads in major need of repair, archaic stormwater infrastructure and in the near future will have nowhere to put our trash. These are the issues that require resolution from the state, not removing local zoning control. This proposal will create a strain on the school system, increased property taxes, amplify traffic and burden local resources which are already stressed. Furthermore, people move out to the suburbs because the perception of the American Dream is still that quaint neighborhood home, picket fence and all, where they can raise a family. As public servants, it’s our duty to preserve and protect that dream.”

In Head of the Harbor, Mayor Doug Dahlgard echoed the sentiments.

“Taking away local zoning control with a broad brush is not acceptable and will be met by opposition claiming the character of our communities will change for the worse,” the mayor said. “Starting a conversation about how to allow generations of a family to stay together on Long Island, on the other hand, makes sense.”

Wehrheim agreed that the issue of affordable housing needs to be discussed and would welcome a task force consisting of local, county and state officials using proven studies and incorporating successful methods that could create affordable housing options in appropriate areas such as a downtown business neighborhood near a train station.

Congressmen support local officials

Town officials have received moral support from their congressmen. U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY3) in a press release criticized Hochul. Suozzi will run in the Democratic primary for governor in June against Hochul

“Governor Hochul’s radical proposal would take away zoning control from municipal governments, erode local government authority and end single-family housing across New York,” Suozzi said. “Hochul’s plan to eliminate home rule is not what we need. I support affordable housing, building up around downtown train stations and helping the homeless. I oppose eliminating home rule and ending single-family housing.”

The presumptive Republican nominee for New York State governor, U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY1) said in a joint statement with Brookhaven officials that Hochul “isn’t focused on real solutions.”

“This blatant attack on suburban communities will end single-family housing as we know it, strip local control away from the New Yorkers who live there, tank the value of their homes, overcrowd their previously quiet streets, and on top of it all, not do anything to solve our affordable housing problem,” Zeldin said.

Anthony Figliola, right, is pictured with his wife, Christine, and children Celine, Siena and Anthony. Photo from candidate

A former Town of Brookhaven deputy supervisor is ready to take on Congress.

Anthony Figliola

As the new year began, Anthony Figliola (R-East Setauket) announced his intention to represent New York’s 1st Congressional District. The seat is currently held by U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) who announced in 2021 that he would not run for Congress and would instead run for New York State governor.

Figliola, who is running for office for the first time, said it’s something that’s been a dream of his for a while. When he heard the announcement that Zeldin decided to tackle the governor’s race, he knew it was time to seize the opportunity to run for Congress. Despite this being the first time he’s running for office, the candidate said Congress is a perfect example of being able to be a citizen legislator.

He said he prayed on the decision with his family and reached out to people he knew in the Republican Party. The husband and father of three said his agenda is families first, and he is concerned about kitchen table issues that affect the middle class.

“I decided that I wanted to jump into this, and primarily because, especially with COVID, seeing the way that this country has been going, it’s really been going downhill, and one of the most glaring issues to me is the impact on the middle-class community,” he said.

The candidate said while he knows the district has always been an expensive place to live, after COVID and the state mandates and shutdown, he talked to various small business owners and realized the difficulty they were having keeping afloat and hiring.

“I talked to a lot of families who, with inflation being at 7%, which is the highest since 1982, they literally don’t have the salary to be able to pay all their bills,” he said. “Some prices are up 50% from where they were last year. Something’s got to give, and people need somebody in Washington that’s going to fight for them and — whether they’re Republican, Independent or Democrat — someone who understands how government works, but also with the same struggles that they have. I was tired of sitting on the sidelines, and I want to be in it, and I want to play.”

Robert Cornicelli, of St. James, has also announced his intention to run on the Republican ticket for Congress. However, the Suffolk County Legislature is currently deciding on redistricting so whether or not Figliola will need to run in a primary depends on redistricting decisions.

Anthony Figliola and family. Photo from candidate

The East Setauket resident said he realized he has big shoes to fill in Congress if he were to win and would work not to lose Zeldin’s legacy of “fighting for the working men and women of this district.”

Figliola said taxes, inflation and gas prices are at the forefront of his mind as he runs for office. Regarding gas prices, he said he believes in opening up oil refineries so the U.S. can export oil to other countries, and in turn, build up the U.S. economy and lower the prices at the pump and inflation in general.

“We are now beholden to overseas foreign governments and foreign conglomerates to tell us how much the cost of gas should be,” he said. “We have to stop kowtowing to our enemies.”

Figliola said if elected he would work to help grow the local economy, while also safeguarding the environment, especially protecting the Island’s drinking water. He believes his experience as an executive vice president of a government relations and economic development business, as well as his time as Brookhaven deputy supervisor, will be an asset.

“One of the things that I’ve done in my career is I’ve worked a lot with sewers and the installation of sewers and building sewer facilities,” he said. “What I think is really important is that we work to find a way to sewer more of Suffolk County in the 1st Congressional District, because it’s going to do two things. It’s going to help reduce harmful toxins and nitrogen and other things that are being put into our drinking water and our waterways. And secondly, it allows us to redevelop and reimagine a lot of our downtowns.”

He said he is also concerned with current COVID mandates where he feels President Joe Biden (D) and Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) are making decisions and not involving all branches of government. While earlier in the pandemic former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was given emergency powers, the current governor doesn’t have the same authority. An example he said is the mandatory vaccinations and boosters from Hochul which he felt were just edicts.

“There’s no checks and balances,” he said. “There was no debate. There’s no review of the issue, the science, who it’s going to impact. It’s just one day Biden or Gov. Hochul says this is how it’s going to be, and if you don’t follow, you’re going to lose everything that you know. And that’s it, and I disagree with that. I’m going to fight passionately for people’s individual liberties and for their freedoms.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul. File photo by Julianne Mosher

New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) delivered her first State of the State address on Jan. 5. The governor outlined nine key points as part of what she called her New Era for New York plan.

During the address, she said the focus was on rebuilding the state’s health care economy; protecting public safety and addressing gun violence; investing in New York’s people; investing in the state’s communities; making New York’s housing system more affordable, equitable and stable; making the state a national leader in climate action and green jobs; rebuilding New York’s teacher workforce and reimagining higher education; advancing the state’s place as a national equity model; and making critical reforms to restore New Yorkers’ faith in their government.

“As the first woman to present a State of the State address in New York, I want to make it clear I am not just here to make history — I am here to make a difference,” Hochul said. “The time has come for a new American Dream. Today, we start building a better, fairer, more inclusive version that I call the New York Dream. We will create a ‘new era for New York’ by embarking on a bold, far-reaching policy agenda that advances our recovery and restores New Yorkers’ trust in government. And through all of this, I will continue to collaborate with others and deliver results for New Yorkers.”


U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY1), the presumptive Republican candidate in the 2022 governor’s race, posted a rebuttal on YouTube after Hochul’s address. Zeldin criticized “the Cuomo-Hochul administration” for “punishing taxes and a skyrocketing cost of living, out-of-control crime, suffocating attacks on our freedom and unending scandals” that he said “have resulted in New York leading the nation in residents fleeing.”

“Unfortunately, our current governor, Kathy Hochul, and one-party rule in Albany have continued the attacks on your wallets, safety, freedoms and kids’ education,” the congressman said.

Zeldin also asked why Hochul didn’t provide details about her plan to tackle rising crime. He criticized her talk about term limits that he said “were far behind the curve” and said she was following where the “political winds blow.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY3) posted remarks to YouTube before the address. Suozzi is set to run in the Democratic primaries for governor against Hochul. In the beginning of the video, he said, “The state of our state is dismal.”

In a statement after the address, Suozzi said, “The governor today said she wanted a ‘new era for New York,’ yet she ducked fixing the bail crisis that is helping fuel crime, failed to fix the chaos due to her lack of a COVID plan, and won’t stop the pay-to-play mess that corrupts Albany. New York needs a common sense governor who has executive experience to manage COVID, take on crime, reduce taxes and help troubled schools.”

New York State Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-St. James) sent out a statement after Hochul’s address also criticizing the governor.

“New York must move forward with a plan of recovery from COVID-19,” Fitzpatrick said. “Gov. Hochul has been reluctant to make progress on this issue, despite broad access to vaccines for those who want it. New York must find a way to begin living with the ongoing reality of this virus without hampering the livelihoods of residents, the education of children and the overall health of our economy. Residents are counting on our leadership to forge a path forward.”

State Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) issued a statement in response to the State of the State address. The senator complimented Hochul for the “welcomed change from the PowerPoint slides and oversized podiums of the previous administration. Her speech and its location were clearly meant to show a break from the past and a new leadership approach to meet New York’s myriad challenges.”

However, Palumbo said he was concerned that few of the positive proposals in the address “will create the systemic change needed to meet today’s challenges faced by my constituents in the 1st Senate District.”

“The hard fact is New York state continues to lead the nation in outmigration,” he said. “The cost of homes and property taxes in our region continue to rise. State and fuel taxes are up. The crime rate continues to grow and families I represent do not feel safe. Our electric rates are some of the highest in the country. The economy has been further crippled by the pandemic, and our hospitals and nursing homes are struggling. With record levels of state and federal spending, our region of the state is simply not seeing its fair share of funding allowing our economy to recover.”

Palumbo challenged Hochul and legislative majorities to revisit policies he called “unworkable and detrimental.”

Some highlights from the State of the State address:

Health care over the course of five years

  • Grow health care workforce by 20%
  • $10 billion invested in the sector
  • $4 billion of $10 billion to be used for wages and bonuses of health care workers

Preventing and reducing gun violence and violent crimes

  • Provide state and local law enforcement with tools necessary to keep residents safe from gun violence
  • Invest in public safety and fund state and local policing gun safety efforts
  • Create an interstate Gun Tracing Consortium
  • Invest in community-based gun violence response

Invest in residents

  • Accelerate the phase-in of $1.2 billion in middle-class tax cuts for 6 million New Yorkers by two years to 2023
  • Establish a $1 billion property tax rebate program
  • Tax rebate for 2 million New York families
  • Increase existing tax credits and create new ones to support food production
  • $100 million in tax relief for 195,000 small businesses across New York state

Develop job opportunities

  • Create the Office of Workforce and Economic Development and Jails to Jobs program

Boost investment in offshore wind infrastructure by $500 million

Limit governors,  lieutenant governors, attorney generals and comptrollers to two consecutive four-year terms.

Photo from Lee Zeldin's office

Suffolk County Republican lawmakers joined together last week calling on Democratic leaders in Albany to repeal the state’s cashless bail law. They argue that it has led to an uptick in violent crime.

Spearheaded by U.S. Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY1) — who is also the GOP’s potential nominee for governor in 2022 — he said that while on the campaign trail, he hears from people across both political parties who agree that bail reform needs to change.

“Many areas of the state that I’ve been to support repealing cashless bail,” Zeldin said during a press conference on Wednesday, Nov. 10. “They share stories about how cashless bail has eroded public safety.”

He added that the “red wave” that hit Suffolk County — including the success of newly elected Republican District Attorney Ray Tierney, could help send a message to majority Democrats to repeal the bail reform law.

“Too many New Yorkers have already witnessed the ramifications of this dangerous law first-hand, and on Election Day 2021 they made it abundantly clear that they have had enough,” Zeldin said. “This fatally flawed law undermines New York’s men and women in blue, their morale, their efforts and, most importantly, their authority. In the courtroom, it rips away judges’ judicial discretion, ties their hands and forces them to ignore prior convictions and the risk of repeat offenders. Instead of handcuffing criminals, this misguided law handcuffs justice, and every day New Yorkers are the ones paying the price.”

Tierney interjected and said that a package of newly enacted or proposed Democratic bills, including those that reform parole and would expunge many misdemeanor convictions and lower-level felonies, fail to keep the public safe.

“We are here to say these laws do not keep us safer,” Tierney said. “And we need to repeal some of these laws and start to think about the victims and the victims’ families when we consider criminal justice reform.”

He added that during the most-recent election, he and his GOP colleagues saw that bail reform and criminal justice were huge issues that needed to be tackled.

“We saw suddenly our elected officials coming to the realization that bail reform and criminal justice reform did not keep us safe and it was not an effective law,” he said.

Zeldin and Tierney were joined by members of the state Senate and Assembly. Sen. Mario Mattera (R-St. James) congratulated Tierney on his recent win.

“I’m so excited that the people spoke,” Mattera said. “They wanted to make sure we have the right people in place to keep our residents safe.”

Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) said that bail reform “needs to change — it’s dangerous.”

“The people have spoken,” he added. “They finally remember the victims who have been forgotten by the two majorities.”

Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio (R-Riverhead) agreed that victims and witnesses are currently not safe.

“It’s not right what happened, we need to repeal it,” she said. “Repeat offenders need to be behind bars and judges need that jurisdiction back.”

Photo from Congressman Lee Zeldin's office

One U.S. congressman has his eyes on Albany for the 2022 election cycle.

Last week, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY1) announced his run for New York State governor. To kick off his campaign, Zeldin released a video on his website and to his social media accounts.

“We have two choices,” Zeldin said in the video. “We can raise the white flag and surrender to mediocrity, corruption, coverups, more job losses and even higher taxes. We might as well just turn the lights off. Or we can roll up our sleeves and get to work to save our state. That’s what I’m going to do as New York’s next governor. Let’s do it together and show the world the real New York.”

Zeldin has been openly critical of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), from the governor’s alleged cover-up of nursing home deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic to the sexual misconduct allegations made against him.

“At the helm of New York’s downfall is Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose disgraceful and deadly nursing home order and cover-up is part of a long line of scandals, lies and harassment,” Zeldin said in a recent campaign email. “Cuomo has abused the power and trust granted to him and it is time for him to immediately exit stage left.”

Zeldin has served as congressman in Congressional District 1 since January 2015.

File photo

On a call with reporters Jan. 6, U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY3) said he was in the chambers of the Capitol when it was breached by Trump supporters who stormed the building. He said he and others were ushered to a safe place.

The congressman said he was more saddened than scared by the siege.

Suozzi said there was a Republican congress member objecting to the certification of the electoral results, when the representatives were notified the building had been breached. They were told to reach under their chairs and get the gas masks that were under them. According to the congressman, tear gas at the point already had been used in areas of the building.

“And then there started to be some people banging at the doors,” he said. “Capitol Police drew their weapons.”

Suozzi added that something broke through the main door, and he heard a popping noise.

He said he was up in the gallery with other members of Congress. At one point, there were concerns they couldn’t exit and 30 were still remaining, waiting to see if protesters would break through the doors. After determining what door to use to leave, they finally were able to exit the chambers.

He said when he left the room, there were several protesters on the floor surrounded by Capitol Police.

“I feel very strongly that we have to get back to the chambers, and we have to certify this election,” he said. “And we have to deem Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, President, Vice President, of the United States of America.

Suozzi said he disagreed with his colleagues who are objecting.

“But it was a debate on the floor and that’s what we do in our country — we debate,” he said. “Outside there were protests and protests are okay, too, but not violent protests and this violence that we’re seeing is completely unacceptable.”

He said the president and others fomented the protests.

“This is completely lawless, irresponsible,” Suozzi said. “We must get back to the chambers, and we must certify this election as fast as possible, and show the country and the world that our democracy will continue to thrive and survive and thrive. Even in the midst of this lawlessness, we can always rely on our values, and we have to stick with our values.”

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) released a statement denouncing the protesters’ actions.

“This should never be the scene at the US Capitol,” Zeldin said in the statement. “This is not the America we all love. We can debate and we can disagree, even on a Jan. 6 following a presidential election. We can all passionately love our country, but in our republic we elect people to represent us to voice our objections in the House and Senate on this day. Additionally, there must be zero tolerance for violence in any form! It is very important now for everyone to please cooperate with Capitol Police who need to gain control of this situation immediately.”

Despite the loss of the presidential election, and with just 18 months on the job, Suffolk County Republican Party Chairman Jesse Garcia is instead looking at big local wins.

Suffolk Republican Committee Chairman Jesse Garcia, center, said the party had big wins in Suffolk despite losses on the federal level. Photo from Suffolk Republicans

The party held onto longtime Republican state Senate seats previously held by Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), who’s retiring this year, and Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport), who vacated his seat earlier in 2020. Despite a blue wave in 2018 that saw the GOP hold over the state Senate wane, this year Republican Alexis Weik, of Sayville, defeated state Sen. Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood), making Suffolk County a solid wall of red against a mostly blue Nassau County and New York City.

People “responded to our message of taking back New York State from one-party rule, and raised the voices of Long Island in Albany,” Garcia said in a phone interview a few days after the majority of absentee ballots were counted. All races in Suffolk have now been officially called.

Garcia came into the position in April 2019 from his previous post as chairman of the Brookhaven Town Republican Committee. The Suffolk post was previously held by John Jay LaValle, who had been ardent in his support for President Donald Trump (R) in 2016.

The retirement of multiple high-level Republicans in Suffolk, including LaValle and Flanagan as well as U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-NY2), brought a new urgency to this election beyond the politicking of a presidential election year, even if 2020 wasn’t one of the most divisive elections in recent memory.

Trump squeaked out a win in Suffolk County by just a little over 200 ballots, with 49.40% of the vote compared to Democrat Joe Biden’s 49.37%. This is compared to 2016 when Trump carried Suffolk by close to 47,000 votes. 

Still, Garcia praised the county’s steadfast support of Republicans. Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) defeated Democrat Laura Ahearn for LaValle’s seat, and St. James Republican Mario Mattera defeated Democrat Mike Siderakis to pick up where Flanagan left off. 

As for Congress,, U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY1) held an over-36,000 vote lead against Democrat Nancy Goroff by the time all absentee votes were counted. Republican Andrew Garbarino, of Sayville, defeated Democrat Jackie Gordon for King’s seat, though more votes went blue on the Suffolk side of the district.

Garcia also cited a victory when voters rejected Suffolk County’s proposition 1, which would have increased the terms of legislators from two years to four, something he called “an incumbency protection program.”

Despite Biden’s win on the national stage having been upstaged by Trump’s continued unverified claims that the election was stolen in key states, the campaign has presented little to no evidence of widespread voter fraud — although a Nov. 18 Reuters/Ipsos poll reported nearly half of Republicans nationally say the election was stolen because of voter fraud. 

The Republican chairman said changes to this year’s election process due to the pandemic were as a result of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) “weaponizing a pandemic for his political purposes,” and that the governor used COVID-19 as a way to “scare voters away from the polling places.”  Garcia blamed the governor for moving back the dates of primaries, though Republicans only hosted one primary this year, that being for the 2nd Congressional District held in June.

The chairman also brought up his share of claims of impropriety in the past election, though he did not cite any specific examples of widespread fraud. He said there was a lack of checking to confirm who people were when requesting an absentee ballot and cited the example of a Water Mill man who was indicted by District Attorney Tim Sini (D) for allegedly requesting two mail-in ballots for his deceased mother.

“I know that there are a number of other questionable applications that we hope are under investigation, because that’s what fair and transparent elections are all about,” he said.

Despite their wins, the Republicans still remain a minority in both houses of the state Legislature. Garcia said the Democrats who hold seats in the suburban parts of New York are going to need to “deal with choosing to vote for Long Island taxpayers, against their party and against the governor … or they’re going to join with our delegation to fight for more school aid, the repeal of the catch-and-release bail reform act.” 

As for the near future, the Suffolk County Republican head is looking forward to 2021. Early next year, the Town of Brookhaven will be holding a special election to replace Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station), who is leaving to become a state Supreme Court judge. Garcia said they have been doing interviews for candidates and will be announcing their pick as soon as the town supervisor announces a date for that vote.

On the Suffolk side, a large number of seats are coming up for vote once again. Democrats in the county Legislature hold a single-member majority against their GOP counterparts.

“We’re going to look to flip the Suffolk County Legislature into the government into the Republican column the first time since 2005,” Garcia said.

Englebright/Palumbo/Mattera Claim Victory in Respective Races

Lee Zeldin. File photo by Victoria Espinoza

*This post has been updated to include updated information about other area races.

With the number of absentee ballots counted so far, the GOP commissioner of the bipartisan Suffolk County Board of Elections told TBR News Media that U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin’s (R-NY1) reelection over Democratic challenger Nancy Goroff is “mathematically certain.”

“I expect to certify the race in about a week — with the results showing Congressman Zeldin won by almost 50,000 votes,” BOE Commissioner Nick LaLota said in an email statement. The incumbent congressional representative had a lead of over 60,000 votes by the end of in-person vote counting Nov. 3. Absentee ballot counting began Nov. 16.

While Goroff and her election staff said on Election Day they had to wait for the results of in-person voting, Zeldin released a statement that night declaring victory. In it he also thanked Goroff for the race.

“As America enters its next chapter, I am confident we will defeat the coronavirus and continue growing our economy,” the incumbent said in that Nov. 3 statement. 

Zeldin’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for any kind of new statement based on the commissioner’s election call.

A representative from Goroff’s campaign said they are waiting for additional absentee ballots to be counted before putting out any kind of statement.

In other local races, state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) was confident that mail-in ballots would make a difference in the 2020 race for his seat in the 4th Assembly District, and he was right.

On Dec. 2, LaLota confirmed that Englebright was reelected and that official ballot counts would be available shortly.

The assemblyman said it was good to have the ballot count finished.

“This election was unique because fully one-third of the vote came in through mail ballots and was not included in the initial election night tally,” he said. “It was, however, worth waiting for.  The final count was a solid affirmation. I’m grateful that the voters gave me the opportunity to continue representing them in the Assembly. And there is much work to be done in the new year. Until then, please everyone, be safe this holiday season and we will come out of this stronger.”

In person voting showed Englebright behind Nov. 4 with 47.44% of the votes, compared to his challenger Republican Michael Ross who had 51.88% of the votes. At the time, there were nearly 18,000 absentee ballots that still needed to be counted in the district.

Ross did not release a statement by press time.

At the same time, victory was declared by current Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk), who defeated Democratic opponent Laura Ahearn to take Senate District 1. The seat had been held by Republican Ken LaValle for over 40 years.

“As our new Senator, I will work hard every day to continue the legacy of retiring State Sen. Ken LaValle and build upon his strong record of protecting the environment, supporting our schools, and fighting for taxpayers,” Palumbo said in a statement. “Thank you for putting your trust in me. I am proud and truly grateful to have the opportunity to continue serving our Long Island communities in the New York State Legislature.”

In a statement, Ahearn congratulated Palumbo for his win and said she would “work with him for the betterment of our communities during these difficult times.”

“I am very proud of the work we all did together as we were just 2.7% points away from flipping this seat, by far the closest this race has been in decades,” Ahearn said in a statement. “For now, I look forward to spending the holiday season with my family, who have been through so much during this remarkable time to run for public office. And of course, there is still much work to be done as we continue to help those who need it most.

In Senate District 2, Mario Mattera succeeded Senator John Flanagan (R). Mattera beat out Democrat and former state trooper Michael Siderakis, of Nesconset.

“Now that the counting is complete, we are ready to work together to bring the voice of all who live in our community to our state government and make sure that the needs of our families are met,” Mattera said in a statement. “The time has come to put Long Island first, and I look forward to getting to Albany to fight for our hardworking families.”

This story was amended to add a statement from Laura Ahearn.

Stock photo

Despite Election Day being Nov. 3, local races have a week or more to settle on the final count.

Suffolk County Republican Board of Elections commissioner, Nick LaLota, said via email they hope counting will be finished before Thanksgiving, Nov. 26, though there is no way to know when everything will be finalized.

Republican candidates took leads in every local state and congressional race based on in-person ballots as the BOE started its absentee ballot count Nov. 16. Election experts have repeatedly said on average more Democrats used absentee ballots than Republicans did, though races will largely depend on unaffiliated voters. 

With that said, it will still be hard going for many Democrats in a few of the most hotly contested races. The U.S. Congressional District 1 race between U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY1) and his Democratic opponent Nancy Goroff still remains out, though Zeldin currently holds a 65,120-vote lead. There are still over 89,000 absentee ballots left in that race, but Goroff would need to reportedly take all non-GOP registered votes in order to gain the upper hand.

A similar challenge is there in the New York State Senate District 1 race for Democrat Laura Ahearn, who has a steep uphill climb against her challenger, current Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk). Ahearn is down by 18,736 from in-person polling, and there are over 42,000 absentee ballots left to count, and she will need many votes outside the two main parties to gain the seat.

The race for State Senate District 2 between Republican Mario Mattera and Democrat Mike Siderakis is heavily favoring red, as there is a 35,109 difference in votes favoring Mattera with less than 43,000 votes to count. 

The State Assembly District 2 race between Democrat Laura Jens-Smith and Republican Jodi Giglio is likely to go in favor of the GOP. With a 14,355 difference and just under 17,000 absentee ballots to count, Giglio has all but cinched her new position. Jens-Smith has previously told TBR News Media she knows she has very little chance of victory.

Some elections are closer than others, such as State Assembly District 4. Many residents reported surprise in messages to TBR News Media at longtime Assemblyman Steve Englebright’s (D-Setauket) deficit of votes compared to his Republican opponent Michael Ross of 1,966. That race currently has 17,909 absentee ballots left to count.

However, there are a few confirmed elections. State Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-St. James), with his lead of 23,419 with in-person ballots, is so far ahead of his young Democratic opponent Dylan Rice even the over-17,000 absentee ballots could not make a dent in the District 8 race.

On Nov, 17, U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY3) said his opponent George Santos called him to concede. In a statement, Santos credited grassroots supporters and donors for the close race.

“I am proud that we gained the support of every PBA and first responder organization that endorsed this cycle,” Santos said.

Santos said there may be more announcements in the near future regarding his next steps.

“I would like to congratulate Congressman Tom Suozzi,” Santos said. “We wish him well going forward for the benefit of our district and constituents.”

State Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Northport) declared victory Nov. 18 against his Republican opponent Ed Smyth. This came after votes absentee votes already counted in both Nassau and Suffolk put him over the edge.

“I am humbled to be reelected by the residents of the 5th Senate District and I thank them for their support,” Gaughran said in a statement. “During my first term in office, I worked tirelessly on behalf of Long Islanders and I am proud to have delivered real results — from a permanent property tax cap to support for small businesses navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. I will keep fighting for my constituents, for Long Island, and for all of New York State and I thank the voters for giving me the opportunity to continue to serve them.”

Above, is a breakdown of where each race stands with in-person votes as at Nov. 18 plus the number of absentee ballots left as last reported on Nov. 16 (from the Suffolk County Board of Elections).

Current vote totals are as of the morning of Nov. 18



Lee Zeldin (R): 176,323 Votes – 61.31%

Nancy Goroff (D): 111,203 Votes – 38.67%

Absentee Ballots: 89,401


Tom Suozzi (D): 46,112 Votes – 46.65%

George Santos (R): 52,117 Votes – 52.72%

Absentee Ballots: 34,902

New York State Senate


Laura Ahearn (D): 55,557 Votes – 42.78%

Anthony Palumbo (R): 74,293 Votes – 57.20%

Absentee Ballots: 42,550


Mario Mattera (R): 79,762 Votes – 64.10%

Mike Siderakis (D): 44,653 Votes – 35.88%

Absentee Ballots: 42,781


Jim Gaughran (D): 27,132 Votes – 43.51%

Ed Smyth (R): 34,575 Votes – 55.44%

Absentee Ballots: 21,276

New York State Assembly


Jodi Giglio (R): 34,290 Votes – 62.39%

Laura Jens-Smith (D): 19,935 Votes – 36.27%

Absentee Ballots: 16,979


Michael Ross (R): 22,966 Votes – 51.88%

Steve Englebright (D): 21,000 Votes – 47.44%

Absentee Ballots: 17,909


Mike Fitzpatrick (R): 39,937 Votes – 70.73%

Dylan Rice (D): 16,518 Votes – 29.26%

Absentee Ballots: 17,227


Steve Stern (D): 24,141 Votes – 49.93%

Jamie Silvestri (R): 24,197 Votes – 50.05%

Absentee Ballots: 18,529


Keith Brown (R): 30,638 Votes – 57.20%

Michael Marcantonio (D): 22,908 Votes – 42.77%

Absentee Ballots: 15,906