SHIRLEY-MASTIC, NY — With the political landscape altered in 2020 by the coronavirus, North Fork voters who didn't send in their absentee ballots will head to the polls Tuesday to cast their ballots in the Congressional primary, as well as for open New York State Senate and Assembly seats.
The election is slated for Tuesday, June 23. Under Gov. Andrew Cuomo's order, all registered voters in the state must receive a mail-in ballot application to apply for a postage-paid absentee ballot amid the coronavirus. All ballots postmarked by June 23 will be counted.
Polling sites are consolidated for the primary, in which only registered Democrats can vote. To find your polling place, click here. Voting begins at 6 a.m. and ends at 9 p.m. All voters must wear a face mask to enter the polling locations.
Four candidates in primary hope to face off with Zeldin for a congressional seat in the 1st District
All eyes Tuesday will be on the race to see who will challenge incumbent U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Republican.
Four Democrats are poised to claim the candidacy and will face off in Tuesday's primary vote, including Bridget Fleming, Perry Gershon, Nancy Goroff and Gregory-John Fischer.
The 1st Congressional District includes most of central and eastern Suffolk County, including the East End, Brookhaven Town, and most of Smithtown. View the district map here.
Bridget Fleming, who lives in Hampton Bays, currently serves as a Suffolk County Legislator, was a former Southampton Town councilwoman and also served as an Assistant District Attorney with the Manhattan DA's Office.
"I am running for Congress because the stakes are simply too high for me to sit on the sidelines. For 11 of the past 15 terms, the 1st Congressional District was represented by Democrats, who brought thoughtful, stable leadership. This has been replaced by the extreme partisanship of Lee Zeldin, a member of the Freedom Caucus and one of Donald Trump's most ardent supporters in Congress. I'm running to take on Lee Zeldin, to hold him accountable and to bring stable, responsible leadership to Congress," she said.
"I was glad to cast my vote early yesterday," Fleming said Monday. "This election is unlike any I've experienced in the years I have been privileged to serve the communities of Long Island. We feel very good about the results because we hear over and over that voters want change, and they see me as a leader who, unlike Lee Zeldin, has already demonstrated that I will stand up to Donald Trump."
For Fleming's full candidate questionnaire, click here.
Perry Gershon, of East Hampton, is a a businessman who also faced off against Zeldin in 2018. He founded one of New York's first sports bars and followed with a 25-year career as a lender in commercial real estate.
"Congressman Lee Zeldin has to be voted out this November. Zeldin is Trump's staunchest cheerleader in Congress and one of his biggest enablers," Gerson said. "The Zeldin/Trump agenda is against healthcare in the time of COVID-19, is against environmental regulations when we know that climate change is real, and is against reform at a time when as a country we are uniting around racial justice. If the coronavirus has taught us anything, it's that leadership in government matters. Long Island deserves better."
He added: "As an ally and advocate, I have been showing up in solidarity at Black Lives Matter demonstrations all over Long Island... In Congress, I will fight for reformative legislation like the 2020 Justice in Policing Act, to ban choke holds, increase transparency in policing, and end police brutality."
For Gershon's full candidate questionnaire, click here.
Nancy Goroff, of Stony Brook, is a scientist and professor of chemistry at Stony Brook University for 23 years; she is also the former chair of the chemistry department.
"It is time for scientists to have a seat at the table, not just serve as advisors. With the current attempts to distort facts and reality, it's never been more crucial to have a scientist in Congress, someone who can read the evidence and listen to the facts in order to form the best policy. From healthcare to climate change to financial security and affordability, the facts and details matter," Goroff said she is "is uniquely qualified to analyze them and make the right choice."
If elected, Goroff said she will be the first female PhD scientist ever to serve in Congress, which means she will bring unique skills and expertise. Goroff said she will serve as a resource for all members of Congress, Republican and Democratic, to provide access to the best scientific information available, get questions answered, and hold feet to the fire to make sure "meaningful action is taken on climate change, healthcare, and on getting out of the COVID-19 pandemic."
For Goroff's full candidate questionnaire, click here.
Gregory-John Fischer, a businessman, has run for public office in the past; he ran for the New York State Senate against incumbent Ken LaValle in 2018.
"My opponents have no practical economics experience and I have been working with medical researchers around the world to solve the worldwide virus-caused emergency — complete with a growing library of my interviews with those experts," Fischer said.
He added: "We have especially stressed finances, social policy, and health policy for a broad section of our population. We do not just have 'financial pain', as is in the question; in real numbers, when all numbers are considered, we have a choice between government insolvency, or sharp tax increases, or a turnaround. I do turnaround."
For Fischer's full candidate questionnaire, click here.
Five candidates in race to fill Senate seat in 1st District left open by retiring Ken LaValle
Five Democratic hopefuls threw their hats into the proverbial primary ring, hoping to win the chance to enter the race against GOP candidate Anthony Palumbo to win the New York State Senate seat in the 1st District left open with the retirement of longtime incumbent Ken LaValle.
Ahearn, of Port Jefferson, is an attorney in private practice and has been the Executive Director of the Crime Victims Center/Parents for Megan's Law for 25 years.
"I am not a politician looking for a job or a promotion. I am an experienced social worker, attorney, and victim and community advocate who has for nearly 25 years protected our most vulnerable and delivered for Suffolk County," Ahearn said. "I would like your support so that I can use my 25 years of advocacy experience, my legislative skills and my legal skills to fight for our fair share in Albany and for what is important to us and our communities in Senate District 1."
Johnson, of Mount Sinai, is 20 years old and a student. "I'm the youngest candidate in this race, and in most races nationwide. I have the ability to bring disenfranchised voters into the fold, and connect with people across generations. My unique understanding of policy will be crucial to winning the general election and legislating effectively," he said.
Higgins, of Ridge, is a nurse who was elected in 2015 and 2018 as regional coordinator on Long Island for the NYS Public Employees Federation.
"I have lived a life similar to many of the residents in the district," she said. "I have been working with COVID patients at Stony Brook University Hospital, and watched as the healthcare system unraveled. I believe we need to reform healthcare, both for representation of all individuals, and the for-profit mentality that contributed to the gross mishandling of the pandemic. I will also be a voice for labor."
Schiavoni is a current Southampton Town board member and a former vice president of the Sag Harbor Board of Education.
"For three generations, my family has operated a plumbing and heating business in Sag Harbor," he said. "At age 12, I joined the family business and learned valuable skills that I've taken with me for life. Growing up on construction sites surrounded by master tradesmen instilled in me the importance of a strong work ethic, a spirit of community service and the desire to find pragmatic solutions to problems — mechanical or otherwise."
Cartright is a current Brookhaven Town Councilwoman who served as senior attorney at the Law Offices of Frederick K. Brewington — a civil rights firm on Long Island — prior to taking office. She also serves as an adjunct Instructor at St. Joseph's College.
At a recent Hampton Bays protest organized after the death of George Floyd, Cartright spoke:
"Change is here. It's not coming. It's here. When you look to your right and to your left, you see people that don't necessarily look like you but they stand with you. And that's what's important." She urged the crowd to respond to the call for jury duty.
Cartright discussed Gov. Andrew Cuomo's "aggressive legislation" that was recently passed in regard to police reforms. "You know why? You did it! This is not a sprint, this is a marathon. We have much more work to do."
For questions about Tuesday's primary, go to the Suffolk County Board of Elections' website.