Election 2018

Election 2018: Seats on the line in Congress, Assembly, State Senate

By now, you’ve probably heard them debate the issues — and you’ve certainly seen their TV ads — but who are they?

Here’s some background on the candidates for Congress, state Senate and state Assembly.


Lee Zeldin

Incumbent Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) is a graduate of William Floyd High School in Mastic Beach, the State University of New York at Albany and Albany Law School.

He completed the Army ROTC program and served on active duty in the Army for four years as a military intelligence officer, a prosecutor and a military magistrate.

He was assigned to the Army’s elite 82nd Airborne Division in the summer of 2006, and was deployed to Tikrit, Iraq. He is still in the Army Reserves.

Mr. Zeldin, 38, opened a law practice in Smithtown in 2008. He was elected to the New York State Senate in 2010 and re-elected in 2012. He lists among his accomplishments repealing the MTA payroll tax and helping to create a peer-to-peer counseling service for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

He ran unsuccessfully in 2008 against former congressman Tim Bishop, but challenged Mr. Bishop again in 2013 and won the 1st District seat. He was re-elected in 2016.

Mr. Zeldin has the Republican, Conservative, Independence and Reform party lines on this year’s ballot.

Perry Gershon

Mr. Gershon emerged as the Democratic candidate for the 1st Congressional District after winning a five-way primary in June.

Both of his parents were successful in the field of medical research. Mr. Gershon, 56, graduated from Yale in 1984 and initially opened a sports bar.

He then moved on to a 25-year career as a commercial real estate lender in Manhattan.

He has targeted health care, protecting the environment, gun safety and bringing high-paying jobs to the area among his top priorities.

Mr. Gershon says he is an avid runner who has participated in 21 marathons and has used running to raise money for charitable causes.

This is his first run for elected office, although he said he volunteered on the presidential campaigns of Ted Kennedy and Gary Hart in the 1980s.

Mr. Gershon has the Democratic and Working Families party ballot lines.

Kate Browning, a former Suffolk County legislator who was among the candidates Mr. Gershon defeated in the Democratic primary, remains on the ballot on the Women’s Equality line, although she is not actively campaigning.


Kenneth LaValle

Kenneth LaValle (R, C, I, Reform) of Port Jefferson was first elected to the state Senate in 1976 and had previously been a school teacher and administrator.

Mr. LaValle, 79, also obtained a law degree during his time in office, and has served as chair of the Senate committee on higher education since 1979.

The stadium at Stony Brook University and the campus at Eastport-South Manor High School are both named after Mr. LaValle.

He is one of the longest-serving members of the state Senate.

Mr. LaValle has listed among his accomplishments the Stony Brook incubator at Calverton, the Pine Barrens Preservation Act of 1993 and the development of the STAR program, which aims to reduce property taxes for residents.

Greg Fischer

Greg Fischer (D) of Calverton has said he holds degrees in business, finance and economics and has 35 years of consulting experience.

He is a volunteer consultant for the Service Corps of Retired Executives, under the U.S. Small Business Administration, which helps people start and retain small businesses.

He feels the state has a problem with spending too much money and that major economic development plans like Mag-Lev technology can revive the state’s economy.

Mr. Fischer, 62, has run for numerous elected offices at the state, town and school district level but has yet to win one.

He ran unsuccessfully against Mr. LaValle two years ago.


Anthony Palumbo

Anthony Palumbo (R, C, I) of New Suffolk has held the North Fork’s Assembly seat since 2013, when he won a special election. He is an attorney and a former prosecutor with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office. He also held the position of trial supervisor for the five East End towns before leaving to enter private practice in 2004.

Mr. Palumbo, 48, also once served as vice president of the Cutchogue New Suffolk Library Board of Trustees.

He lists among his accomplishments a bill preserving about 800 acres of land in Shoreham, part of which was going to be used as a solar panel installation, and a bill that helped create the North Fork Mental Health Initiative, which provides schools with counselors for students with mental health issues.

Rona Smith

Rona Smith (D) of Greenport is chair of Southold Town’s Housing Advisory Commission and has a background in real estate investment and education.

She has supported the proposed New York Health Act, which attempts to create a state-run health care system. She says many people do not get regular health care because they can’t afford the cost of health insurance. She lost her husband and son to cancer.

Ms. Smith, 73, said she is able to work in a bipartisan fashion and has been appointed to several committees in Southold Town, despite the fact the Town Board is entirely Republican.

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