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Fred Thiele, longtime Independence Party office holder, now a Democrat

Assemblyman Fred Thiele will now have a “D” after his name, replacing “I.”

The longtime Independence Party office holder from Sag Harbor switched this spring. His decision to register as a Democrat was an easy one, he said, and was made for him because the Independence Party is no longer an automatic ballot line in New York.

Democrats in Albany last year changed the criteria for political parties to be on ballots. The Independence Party wasn’t the only one affected; the Green Party and other small parties were denied ballot access as well.

Without a party line, Mr. Thiele made the change to the Democrats, which he has caucused with during his 13 years in Albany.

Mr. Thiele had represented the South Fork and Shelter Island in the 1st Assembly District, but based on the final approved redistricting map, he will now represent Southold Town as well. Riverhead Town will remain in the 2nd Assembly District represented by Jodi Giglio.

Change isn’t a new thing for Mr. Thiele, who had been the only Independence Party member in the State Assembly. He was a Democrat in college, a Republican in his early political career and then an Independent. The change doesn’t really affect anything, Mr. Thiele said, adding that he has embraced the same issues throughout his career.

Although he once considered a run for Congress, he said he now plans to stay where he is in the State Legislature. “I have seniority and I’m able to get legislation introduced and passed,” he said. “I would rather do something than be something.”

Mr. Thiele is seeking reelection in November.