Suffolk Democrats may have lost a seat in the county Legislature but maintained their edge on Election Day despite losses elsewhere.
Legis. Brian Beedenbender (D-Centereach) was down 243 votes to Republican challenger Thomas Muratore of Ronkonkoma by the preliminary count, although the results are still yet to be finalized. Riverhead Supervisor Phil Cardinale, a Democrat, was unseated by Republican Sean Walter by a similarly slim margin while Republican Bill Wilkinson beat Democrat Ben Zwirn for the recently vacated Easthampton Town Supervisor seat.
The usual party atmosphere and extended stage presence was missing at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers hall in Hauppauge on Election Night, as party leaders skipped the long thank you speeches for unopposed candidates like Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota, while party loyalists lamented their losses.
It was a “very tough year” conceded Suffolk County Democratic Chairman Richard Schaffer as he took the stage at about 11:30 p.m. wearing jeans and a button-down shirt with no tie, having come from working as a voting inspector himself. Absent from the stage was Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, a Democrat who is not up for re-election until next year.
“The turnout from two years ago was about 100 people less and those were our people who stayed home for whatever reason,” he told the crowd of what he had seen at his polling place, adding that Conservative voters made up the difference twofold.
Jon Cooper (D-Lloyd Harbor), the Legislature’s majority leader, fresh off of defeating Republican Frank Stalzer, held out hope for Beendenbender after the early results came in.
“I still think Brian is going to pull it off with the absentee ballots,” Cooper said, noting that if the Democrats lose Beendenbender, they’ll still have a comfortable 10-7 margin over Republicans with three third-party legislators who are in the majority’s caucus, although one Democratic lawmaker is not a member of either caucus. But that race was not the only close call.
Legis. Steve Stern (D-Huntington) was in a neck-and-neck race against Republican William Groh but Stern was ahead 521 votes as of the initial tallies, which he credited to the current political tone.
“The electorate sent an important message to all levels of government, not just our level,” Stern said. “Our community is concerned about what’s going on down in Washington and up in Albany and these local races are really the first opportunity to send that message–and it’s sent clearly.”
Legis Jack Eddington (I-Medford) had a 361 vote lead over Republican Dean Murray as of the initial results in another hotly contested race. But there was little drama elsewhere in the legislative races.
Legis. Kate Browning (WF-Shirley) successfully defended her seat against Republican Carol Bissonette, as did Vivian Viloria-Fisher (D-Setauket) against Republican Peter Busacca. Presiding Officer William Lindsay (D-Holbrook) held on to his seat in a match up with Republican Matthew Silecchia, as did Legis. Wayne Horsley (D-Babylon) versus Republican Mark Gallo and Legis. DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) against Republican Edward White, Jr.
Legis. John M. Kennedy Jr. (R-Nesconset) handily beat Democratic challenger Errol Toulon with 75 percent of the vote, as did Lynn Nowick (R-St. James) against Democrat Rachel Kerdman with 74 percent and Legis. Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches) versus Democrat Michael Comando with 71 percent.
Legis. Daniel Losquadro (R-Shoreham) fended off Democrat Bryan Lilly and Legis. Thomas Barraga (R-West Islip) kept his seat away from Democrat Jim Alcus.
Republican Thomas Cilmi defeated Democrat Patrick Nolan and Conservative Timothy Molnar for the seat vacated by Cameron Alden (R-Islip).
Legis. Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) and Legis. Ricardo Montano (D-Central Islip) both ran unopposed.
In Brookhaven, Supervisor Mark Lesko, a Democrat, was returned to office for another two-year term, while Republicans maintained a 4-2 majority on the town board.
Islip Town was the scene of another closely watched race for the town board where Republicans Steve Flotteran and Trish Bergin, a former News 12 Long Island anchor, beat Democrats Chris Bodkin, a longtime incumbent, and Jim Morgo, the former head of the Long Island Housing Partnership.
If there was any silver lining for the Democrats in the town races, it was in Southampton, where Republican Linda Kabot, who is currently defending herself against a driving-while-intoxicated charge, lost the supervisor seat to Anna Throne-Holst.