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Candidates lining up to challenge LaValle for state Senate

The competition for the 1st District seat in the state Senate is starting to heat up, as Democrats, newly in control of the state Senate, are lining up to challenge longtime Republican incumbent Ken LaValle of Port Jefferson in 2020.

Mr. LaValle was elected to the 1st District seat in 1976 and has been in office since 1977. For almost all of that time, Republicans held the Senate majority.

That changed in 2018.

Mr. LaValle, 80, indicated in a written statement that it doesn’t matter who his opponent is, saying “I approach every election the same way; I stand on my continuous record of accomplishments and years of service to our communities.”

Meanwhile, potential Democratic candidates are lining up for a June 23 primary, with the winner going on to the Nov. 3 general election.

Laura Ahearn, a lawyer and victims’ rights advocate, threw her hat in the ring in October.

“I’m an attorney, a social worker and a mom,” she said in a statement. “For 25 years, I have fought to keep Suffolk County residents and children safe from sexual predators. I founded the Crime Victims Center/Parents for Megan’s Law from a room in my home and built it to become a nationally recognized, powerful force with nearly 30 full-time staffers who protect and educate our most vulnerable and provide help to children and adults who were victimized. I went to law school at night to get a law degree, which acts as a shield and a weapon for me to fight for you, our children, and our families in Suffolk County.

“I am running for New York State Senate because I want to continue to fight for us in Albany. I am committed to protecting you, our children, our families, our drinking water, and our environment.”

Ms. Ahearn, 56, lives in Port Jefferson and is a registered Democrat, although she was previously a “blank,” the term used for voters not affiliated with a party.

Also throwing his hat in the ring is Tommy John Schiavoni, 56, of Sag Harbor.

Mr. Schiavoni is currently serving as a Southampton Town councilman and lives in North Haven. He was elected to a four-year term in 2017.

He has served on the Sag Harbor Board of Education, the Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals and the North Haven Village Board and its Zoning Board of Appeals.

Mr. Schiavoni is a retired teacher in the Center Moriches School District, where he taught for more than 30 years. Mr. Schiavoni said he began working at his family’s plumbing and heating business in Sag Harbor when he was 3.

He is married to Southampton Town Justice Andrea Schiavoni, who was elected to a Suffolk County Family Court judge position in November.

“The state Senate is an incredibly important seat,” Mr. Schiavoni said in an interview. “I have a background in education and the environment, and I can make a difference for the future. I bring new energy and new ideas to the position.”

He said his top issue would be environmental protection and protecting drinking water.

“The Democratic majority in the Senate is certainly significant as far as the decision-making and the ability to bring bills to the floor,” he said.

“It’s important that Eastern Suffolk County have someone in the majority in the Senate to represent us in Albany.”

Skyler Johnson, a 19-year-old from Mount Sinai, is also running.

Mr. Johnson describes himself as a local activist and college student, attending Suffolk County Community College.

“I’ve always fought for what I believed to be right,” he said in a release. “I’ve run local campaigns, helped candidates, organized protests, and spread the word to help better New York.

“Today, I’m bringing that fight to the state level. Our current leadership refuses to represent the people of New York.”

Mr. Johnson has a website where he lists some of what he considers the top issues in the campaign, including water quality, health care, prison reform, education and LGBTQ rights, among others.

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