Though it remains unclear whether or not a special election will even be held to fill the vacant First Assembly District seat left when Dan Losquadro won the Brookhaven superintendent post, county Democratic Chairman Rich Schaffer said on Tuesday that at this point, a handful of candidates have stepped forward to represent the party should the opportunity arise.
Schaffer said that he's hoping to screen the candidates, along with leaders from the towns' parties, over the next couple weeks, in the instance that Gov. Andrew Cuomo decides to set a date for a special election.
This year's legislative session ends on June 19, and by law a special election can be held no sooner than 70 days after it is announced. Schaffer said that all things considered – including the cost, which could run as much as $150,000, he said – it may be best to wait until November.
"I don't think it makes sense at this point," he said. "They are almost near the end of the legislative session, so because of the costs to run a special election, it might make more sense to hold off. The county has already spent a lot of money on others."
Nonetheless, according to Schaffer, the following people have shown interest in running for the seat: Jen Maertz, a two-time former state Senate candidate from Rocky Point; Tom Schiliro, a past candidate for Brookhaven's Sixth Town Council District; John McManoman, an attorney from Riverhead; Ron Hariri, an Aquebogue attorney; and Jim Waters, co-owner of Cutchogue's Waters Crest Winery.
A Riverhead News-Review report noted on Tuesday that former Riverhead Supervisor Phil Cardinale – who still has about $20,000 in unspent campaign donations from his last run at public office – is on the fence about running, waiting word over whether or not there will be a race before coming to a decision.
GOP Chair John Jay LaValle said last week that five candidates have likewise stepped forth seeking the Republican line on the ticket: Southold Councilman Chris Talbot; Bill Faulk, former legislative aide to Ed Romaine; Bob Ghoshio, Southold Town Trustee; and Stephen Kiely and Tony Palumbo, both lawyers on the North Fork.
Gabrielsen Backs Out, to Stay on Town Board
Councilman George Gabrielsen met with Riverhead Town Republican Committee leaders last week however announced over the past couple of days he has decided not to throw his hat into the proverbial ring.
Gabrielsen said Wednesday that he had never committed "one hundred percent" to the idea and that, after discussing it with family and friends, he decided that, with three years left on his current term, he wants to continue on the Riverhead Town board and continue work on critical issues such as the Enterprise Park at Calverton subdivision.
In addition, Gabrielsen hopes to work on farming issues and legislation. For example, he said, currently, an individual who would like a farmstand must have seven acres in one spot on their parcel; he'd like to see that amended to an accumulated seven acres, to help ease burdens on farmers.
"There are things like that, that need tweaking," he said. "A few things that I want to finish up."
Lisa Finn contributed to this report.