Eight individuals submit petitions to run last week
A primary election is brewing for the Democratic Party line in the Huntington Town Board race this November, but it won’t happen without a fight.
Last Thursday marked the deadline for candidates running for offices in Huntington Town to file necessary signature petitions with the Suffolk County Board of Elections. And already, the validity of some of those petitions has been challenged in the form of general objections. General objections reserve a candidate’s right to file specifications of objections at a later date — and this year, that date is July 20.
With two open seats on the board, and four Democrats seeking the ballot line, a primary is pending if the contenders whose petitions are being challenged emerge unscathed. Objections to signature petitions can include claims challenging the validity of the signatures, the validity of a person carrying the petition and other issues, according to Nick LaLota, the Republican Suffolk County Board of Elections commissioner.
Incumbent Susan Berland (D) and her running mate Keith Barrett (D), who is the town’s deputy director of General Services and president of the Huntington Station Business Improvement District, are endorsed by the Huntington Town Democratic Committee to run for the board. Democrat contenders Andrew Merola, of Huntington Station, and former longtime Highway Superintendent William Naughton — who are not endorsed by the committee — face general objections by a number of individuals, according to a document provided by LaLota.
Earlier this week, Berland said the Democratic Party in Huntington is united, despite a potential four-way race for the line.
“The rank and file of the Democratic Party is clearly behind myself and Keith Barrett,” she said. “That can be [evident] from the collecting of signatures. All of mine and Keith’s signatures were collected by Democratic Committee people. The other two can’t say the same.”
When reached on Tuesday, Merola, a business account manager at Verizon, said he’s been notified of getting a general objection to his petition, he realizes it’s part of the standard protocol of election and he’s waiting on more specifics about the objection. He said he stands by his petition and won’t be challenging others on their petitions.
“I’m not interested in playing those kinds of political games,” he said. “It shouldn’t be about who has the best lawyers. It should be about who has the best ideas.”
Candidates for Town Board on other party lines are also facing objections. Incumbent Gene Cook (I) is being challenged by two objections and Charles Marino, an East Northport man, who is vying for the Working Families Party line, is facing a string of objections as well. Berland and Barrett are also vying for the line.
In total, eight individuals are attempting to run for the two open seats on the Town Board — Berland, Cook, Barrett, Merola, Naughton, Northport-East Northport school board Trustee Jennifer Thompson, Huntington Station resident Michael Helfer and Marino.
Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Victoria Espinoza contributed reporting.