In January, Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman will return to Hauppauge for his sixth and final term of office, while Chris Nuzzi, following eight years of service on the Southampton Town Board, will no longer hold public office.
Mr. Schneiderman, an Independence Party member from Montauk, bested Mr. Nuzzi, a Republican, on Tuesday for the right to represent the 2nd Legislative District, which encompasses the entire South Fork and, starting next year, Shelter Island.
Although the election results have not been finalized by the Suffolk County Board of Elections, Mr. Schneiderman held a comfortable lead as soon as the first of 68 election districts began reporting their results at around 9:40 p.m. Tuesday. With all districts reported, Mr. Schneiderman finished with 11,329 votes, or 60.3 percent of all ballots cast, while Mr. Nuzzi, who lives in Westhampton Beach, received 7,444 votes, or 39.6 percent, according to the unofficial results.
Mr. Schneiderman, who celebrated his victory Tuesday night at 230 Elm in Southampton, has held the office of legislator since 2004, after serving four years as East Hampton Town supervisor. He attributed his success to his record, which includes frequently noted accomplishments such as widening County Road 39 and removing the homeless sex offender trailers from Riverside and Westhampton.
“It was a good campaign,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “And the voters supported me on my record. I have a lot of work ahead, I want to keep working to reduce Lyme disease and expanding the protections of the environment.”
As the clock neared 11 p.m. at The Emporium in Patchogue Village, the Suffolk County Republicans’ election night headquarters, Mr. Nuzzi waded through the crowd of GOP members watching the Brookhaven Town Republicans celebrate a night of victories. But with 61 out of 68 election districts reporting and Mr. Nuzzi trailing by more than 3,700 votes, it was time for the challenger to concede.
Mr. Nuzzi focused much of his campaign on the financial issues facing the county, heavily criticizing the incumbent for holding office during times of excessive spending and debt. He also lambasted his opponent for taking too long to pressure the county to close the sex offender trailers and a Hampton Bays motel that the Department of Social Services converted into a homeless shelter.
“I’m not gonna look back at what could have been done differently [in the campaign],” said Mr. Nuzzi, whose term expires on December 31. “It was a tough race against a long-time incumbent in Jay. I congratulate him on his victory, and I wish him the best over the next couple years. There are a lot of issues that need to be addressed in Suffolk County.”
Mr. Schneiderman, who will pull in an annual salary of $98,260 during his final two-year term, has said that among his top priorities is to advance the revitalization of Riverside by laying the groundwork of a three-story downtown and possibly reconfiguring the traffic circle. Once his term expires, he said he plans to seek another elected office, although he did not specify positions he had his eyes on.
Mr. Nuzzi, who could not seek reelection to the Town Board due to term limits, said he is looking forward to finishing out the final months of his second four-year term and being able to spend more time with his family. He said he’s open to the idea of running for county legislator again in two years when the seat will be open.
“I’ve learned never to rule anything out, but I think it’s really too early to speculate about that kind of thing,” Mr. Nuzzi said.
Mr. Schneiderman, however, said he expects Mr. Nuzzi to make another run for his seat in 2015, but he questions how well his opponent would do based on Tuesday’s results. “My guess is that Chris is going to want to run again,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “I don’t know if his showing tonight supports that. There’s going to be a lot of people interested in this seat.”
Voters across the state on Tuesday also approved a milestone constitutional amendment that will allow as many as seven casinos to be developed across New York in an effort to create jobs and bring wealth to ailing upstate economies. The measure was supported by 57 percent of voters in the state, and 63 percent of voters in Suffolk County.
Developers are now authorized to build the first four of those casinos in facilities not owned by Indian tribes in upstate New York. The State Legislature would need to pass additional legislation before the final three could be constructed near New York City or on Long Island, as has been speculated.
Governor Andrew Cuomo heavily supported the measure, arguing that the casinos will create jobs and bolster tourism while keeping such business from fleeing to neighboring states. Opponents argued that politicians were giving in to the powerful gambling industry and lobbyists who exaggerated the economic benefits of such casinos.
Voters also overwhelmingly approved a second proposition, sponsored by State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., that allows military veterans to receive credits on a second taking of their civil service tests if they are wounded or disabled as a result of their service.
Previously, veterans received a five-point credit on any civil service test if they were honorably discharged, and five more points if they were wounded while serving. Under the approved proposal, supported by 83 percent of voters, soldiers who took a civil service exam but are recalled to active duty before accepting a position—and who do not return to civilian life until after the five-year validity had expired—will receive five additional points on their second taking of their tests if they were wounded or disabled during their recall.
The third proposition, which asked voters to allow municipalities to pierce the state’s 2-percent tax cap for improvements to sewage treatment facilities, was also approved by 62.3 percent of voters across the state.
The fourth proposition, settling a century-old dispute between the state and private parties over land in the Adirondack Forest Preserve, passed with 72.5 percent of residents voting in favor, and the fifth proposition, which sought permission to allow a mining company to expand its operations into 200 acres in the same preserve in exchange for the addition of at least the same acreage of land into the preserve, also passed with approval from 53.1 percent of voters.
The only state proposition that voters rejected was the sixth and final proposal that asked them to raise the mandatory retirement age of state judges by 10 years, from 70 to 80. The proposal was voted down by 60.7 percent of voters statewide, and 66.46 percent of voters in Suffolk County.