03/13/13 2:45pm
03/13/2013 2:45 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Governor Andrew Cuomo has not yet set a date for the special Assembly election.

It’s looking as if the Republican nomination in the upcoming special election for the 2nd District seat in the New York State Assembly could come out of Southold Town. But party leaders aren’t quite ready to commit to that and the governor has yet to even set a date for the vote.

At least five potential GOP nominees — including four from Southold — have expressed interest in running in the special election to replace former Assemblyman Dan Losquadro, local party leaders said. Mr. Losquadro won a special election to become Brookhaven Town highway superintendent last week.

Southold Town Councilman Chris Talbot and Trustee Bob Ghosio have both asked to screen for the post along with Mattituck attorneys Stephen Kiely and Tony Palumbo, party officials said. Bill Faulk of Manorville, a longtime aide to former county legislator Ed Romaine, also confirmed he’s interested in the job.

Suffolk County Republican leaders are expected to meet Wednesday to select a nominee for the special election.

Democratic leaders said there has been less interest on their side of the aisle.

“There have been some candidates who have come forward, such as Jennifer Maertz,” said Riverhead Democratic chair Marge Acevedo. “However, we don’t know when there is going to be an election. It’s entirely up to the governor.”

Sources said Governor Andrew Cuomo can either call for a special election in conjuction with school elections May 21 or wait to hold it along with the general election in November.

Former assemblyman Marc Alessi’s name came up this week in rumors over who might secure the Democratic nomination, but he said he is not interested.

“I’m not the guy. I do miss it, but it’s not a good time for me to be in Albany,” said the father of three, who now works as the CEO of a biomedical company and still practices law.

Mr. Alessi won the seat in a 2005 special election and served until he lost the 2010 election to Mr. Losquadro by 917 votes.

Ms. Maertz, of Rocky Point, previously lost two bids for state Senate.

GOP sources interviewed this week suggested Mr. Talbot — who would be running as a current elected official — might have the inside track to receive the Republican bid. He said Tuesday that he’s interested and is waiting to see how the nominating process plays out.

“We’ll see what the party wants to do,” said Mr. Talbot, of Cutchogue. “We need to wait for the governor to decide if and when there’s going to be a special election.”

Mr. Ghosio, who lives in Greenport and formerly resided in Lake Panamoka, said he first sought the seat three years ago when Mr. Losquadro was nominated. He said his experience of living in both Brookhaven and Southold towns has given him a vast knowledge of the district.

“I’ve been interested in it for a while,” he said. “I feel I’ve got a good grasp of the issues we’re dealing with.”

Mr. Faulk said his experience working as a legislative aide has helped familiarize him with the needs of North Fork residents.

“Serving in the Assembly would give me an opportunity to continue the work we started in the Legislature,” he said. “I miss working on the North Fork. I learned a lot of things that could help me do a good job.

“Mr. Losquadro worked hard to fight the MTA payroll tax, and for open space preservation,” he added. “I would continue along that road to protect taxpayers and small-business owners.”

Riverhead Town Republican chairman John Galla said that as of noon Tuesday nobody from Riverhead had inquired about the nomination.

“We’re going to send out an email and you never know who will come forward,” he said. “Anybody is welcome to screen with us.”

Both Mr. Galla and Southold Republican chairman Peter McGreevy said the nominee will be decided by themselves, Suffolk County chairman John Jay LaValle and Brookhaven party leader Jesse Garcia.

Mr. McGreevy said that while Southold has more interested parties, that doesn’t mean the town has a lock on the nomination.

“Just because we have four potential candidates doesn’t necessarily mean the candidate will be from Southold,” he said. “We have to wait until we’re done screening.”

[email protected]

With Tim Kelly, Tim Gannon and Beth Young.

02/15/11 2:06pm
02/15/2011 2:06 PM
JOHN GRIFFIN PHOTO | Former assemblyman Marc Alessi was recently appointed to the Board of Directors at Peconic Bay Medical Center.

JOHN GRIFFIN PHOTO | Former assemblyman Marc Alessi was recently appointed to the Board of Directors at Peconic Bay Medical Center.

Marc Alessi won’t be serving on the state Assembly this year, but he’ll still be serving his community.

The former three-term assemblyman and Shoreham resident has been appointed to Peconic Bay Medical Center’s board of directors. He’ll be joining Riverhead-based builder Richard Israel of Greenport and Joan Levan of Westhampton Beach. The new appointments were made this week at the Riverhead hospital.

Mr. Alessi, a Democrat, served as the 1st District’s representative in the state Assembly from 2005 to 2010. He represented the North Fork, Shelter Island and northeastern Brookhaven Town. He narrowly lost a bid for reelection in November.

He is an attorney with the firm of Jaspan Schlesinger where he practices corporate law, municipal law, land use and real estate law.

While in the state Assembly, he served as chair of the Assembly’s subcommittee on the emerging workforce, and also helped rewrite the state tax code in order to grow a regional innovation economy, hospital officials noted.

He was recognized as one of the most influential Long Island business leaders under 40 by Long Island Business News in 2011; was voted Man of the Year by Suffolk County Police Conference in 2010; and Man of the Year by the Long Island Farm Bureau in 2009.

Mr. Israel has been a real estate broker and developer on the East End for 25 years and is involved in both residential and commercial projects that encompass development, construction and management.  He also has served on the board of Temple Israel of Riverhead for 23 years and was its President for 10 years.  Mr. Israel has been a member of Greenport Rotary for 20 years, and is a past president of that group.

Ms. Levan, who has been a member of the Westhampton Beach Village Trustees since 2006, has held executive buying positions with major department stores and specialty chains. She was senior vice president of Woodward & Lothrup in Washington, D.C. and was the company’s first female merchandising vice president. She also was  president and CEO of ADG Marketing, where she was responsible for world-wide marketing, officials said.

“Our board of dedicated volunteers consists of a distinguished group of business, civic and physician leaders with a high level of professionalism, loyalty and work ethics,” , said board chairman Bobby Goodale. “They care about our community and work together toward fulfilling [the hospital’s] mission.”

[email protected]

01/01/11 8:00am
01/01/2011 8:00 AM

ROBERT O'ROURK FILE PHOTO | Two of three local races took weeks to decide in this year's elections.

Typically, an election night is over sometime around midnight.

All the votes are counted, a winner is declared and everyone can relax and have a couple drinks.

This was not your typical election year. Not by a long shot.

In fact, the public had to wait a month to learn Tim Bishop would be the first congressman since Otis Pike in 1976 to be elected to represent the 1st District for more than four terms. He won by just 592 votes or .3 percent of the vote.

“It was the kind of race we had anticipated, to be honest,” Mr. Bishop (D-Southampton) said recently of his battle with Republican Randy Altschuler, which continued some five weeks after Election Day because the vote was so close. “I thought whoever won it would win with about 51 percent.”

The Bishop-Altschuler race wasn’t the only one to drag out locally. Dan Losquadro had to wait until the day before Thanksgiving before incumbent Marc Alessi conceded their race for Assembly. And it’s hard to blame Mr. Alessi for holding out hope after the two were separated by only 40 votes on Election Day. Mr. Losquadro ended up winning by about 900 votes.

Needless to say, it was a wild November for local Democrats and Republicans as they slugged it out in court to make sure the real winner came out on top in each race.

New York’s prolonged 1st District dogfight was the last congressional race in the country to be decided.

Preliminary election night tallies had Mr. Bishop leading by about 3,500 votes. But soon, a re-canvassing of the optical voting machines put him behind by 383 votes.

Mr. Bishop and his campaign called for a hand recount after the swing the weekend after the election.

But Mr. Altschuler watched his lead vanish once the process of counting the absentee and military ballots ended in late November, leaving Mr. Bishop ahead by 235. The congressman’s lead only grew after that.

Unfortunately for local politicians, the holiday break will be short-lived. Once the new year hits, a special election will be set for Mr. Losquadro’s vacant seat in the County Legislature.

In a few weeks, it all starts again.

[email protected]

11/22/10 3:43pm
11/22/2010 3:43 PM

Dan Losquadro

Assembly candidate Dan Losquadro is urging Marc Alessi to concede in the race for the 1st Assembly District, but the incumbent isn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet.

Mr. Losquadro, who holds an 830 vote lead with just 1,000 absentee ballots still to be counted, said in a press release Sunday that he believes Mr. Alessi has “no real chance of winning” at this point.

“After all of the Shelter Island, Riverhead and Southold absentee ballots, affidavits and emergency ballots were counted I still hold over an 800 vote lead,”  Mr. Losquadro (R-Shoreham) said.  “With only Brookhaven left to count—an area where I did extremely well in and a place where I should add to my vote total—I feel that Marc should concede the race on Monday so that our offices can begin the transition process.”

In order to maintain his seat in the Assembly, Mr. Alessi (D-Shoreham) would need to secure 90 percent of the remaining absentee ballots, but he said Monday evening that he won’t concede until after the Suffolk County Board of Elections finishes certifying the vote.

“Ballots are still being counted and several hundred more have been set aside yet to be counted,” Mr. Alessi said in a statement. “Every vote is equally important, and to simply ignore uncounted votes to hasten the process is an insult to the residents of the 1st Assembly District. I will let the Board of Elections let me know who won the race first.”

The two candidates were separated by just 40 votes on election night but Mr. Losquadro increased his lead after the election night results were verified and corrected, and during the absentee ballot count.

A Losquadro win would set up a special election to finish out the final year of his term in the County Legislature, where he serves as minority leader.

Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner has been reported as a possible Republican/Conservative nominee to replace Mr. Losquadro, whom she served four years as a legislative aide prior to seeking her first public office in 2007.

A source in the Democratic Party did not rule out the possibility of Mr. Alessi pursuing the county seat, should Mr. Losquadro’s lead hold up.

11/10/10 5:13am
11/10/2010 5:13 AM

We’re not quite back to the days of dimpled, hanging or pregnant chads, but we’re close.
Remember those arcane terms? They refer to the tiny paper discs left behind by Florida’s punch card voting machines after the polls closed in Florida during the 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. With the presidency hanging in the balance, those little bits of paper, which some said left a voter’s intentions in doubt, were key in determining the winner of Florida’s 25 electoral votes. Whoever took Florida would take the White House in the closest presidential election since 1876.
Through a split decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, those electoral votes went to Mr. Bush, making him the 43rd president. A full decade has passed, but Gore supporters still fervently believe that the GOP stole the election.
To prevent a similar occurrence in future elections, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act, ironically signed by Mr. Bush in 2002. Its purpose? To replace punch cards as well as lever machines, which have been used in Suffolk County for generations but were considered problematic because they left no record of individual votes.
That brings us to this past Election Day, the first full-scale test of the county’s new electronic vote counters. As everyone who voted now knows, the process requires using a pen to fill in the circle next to candidates’ names and sliding the paper ballot into the tabulator. Fortunately, that system leaves no hanging or pregnant chads, but it caused considerable confusion nonetheless.
Some voters simply made a check mark, which doesn’t register in the machines. Others mistakenly marked two or more candidates for the same race, also not valid. Whether this system will ultimately prove to be fair and accurate remains to be seen. But there’s no doubt that it’s far from perfect.
The races for the First Congressional and First Assembly districts attest to that. On election night, incumbent Congressman Tim Bishop seemed to enjoy a solid 3,500-vote lead over Republican challenger Randy Altschuler. But a second look by the Board of Elections resulted in a 4,000-vote swing in Altschuler’s favor. Similarly, Assemblyman Marc Alessi was initially down by just 40 votes, but the gap has since widened significantly.
It will take time, but the only fair and logical response is to hand-count each ballot — that is, before the lawyers bring it all to court. Perhaps we need a Help Suffolk Vote Act to prevent a repeat next year.

11/10/10 4:49am

With a new paper ballot system in place for its first general election, the Suffolk County Board of Elections knew it was in for a trying Election Day this year.
The troubles started early, with some residents having difficulty figuring out the new way to cast their votes. And the problems ended late, with many election districts not reporting final results until after midnight.
But nobody expected things to be this out of whack.
More than a week later, a winner has yet to be determined in a pair of local races that have seen major vote swings during the vote-counting process.
On election night, Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) went to sleep with a lead of nearly 3,500 votes. By Friday, after the memory cards in each of the voting machines had been double-checked, he learned that he trailed Republican challenger Randy Altschuler of St. James by about 400 votes.
Assembly candidate Dan Losquadro (R-Shoreham) left headquarters with only a 40 vote lead last Tuesday over incumbent Democrat Marc Alessi. When contacted Saturday, he said he now led by nearly 900 votes.
How could that be?
“If you know the process, you know how it can happen,” said Wayne Rogers, Republican commissioner for the Suffolk County Board of Elections.
That’s because human error can enter into the equation on election night. Results are phoned in by poll workers who read them off a tally sheet before entering them onto a worksheet. The person on the other end of the phone then keys the numbers into a computer and publishes them online.
With a new system in place, it is widely believed that workers had a more difficult time reading the tally sheet this year. And if that was the case, it wasn’t just a handful of workers having difficulty.
“The information we’ve received shows different numbers now than on election night in 38 percent of election districts,” said Bishop spokesperson Jon Schneider. “It’s not like there are only 10 election districts that wildly shifted.”
In the Assembly race, Mr. Losquadro said he picked up votes in several districts that had Mr. Alessi ahead by a wide margin.
“I knew my numbers were going to move,” he said. “When you see some election districts that had 92 percent or 86 percent for Alessi, you figure you’ll gain some votes there. I didn’t see any anomalies like that where I was leading big.”
The dramatic shift now has local Democrats, who have lost nearly 5,000 votes since election day in the two races, calling for a hand recount. Republicans have not expressed support for that, insisting any errors were not the fault of the new machines. Lawsuits were expected to be filed by Democrats early this week demanding the hand recount.
“At this point the only way to be sure of the accuracy of the count is to do a full hand recount of all the ballots,” said Mr. Schneider, who also serves as chairman of the Brookhaven Town Democratic Committee. “There is a reason that Suffolk County residents insisted on having a paper backup and these circumstances demand we use it.”
It was a far cry from the tone of the Bishop camp last week, when they all but declared victory.
“The only people who think this race is ‘too close to call’ are on Randy Altschuler’s payroll,” Mr. Schneider said the Wednesday after Election Day. “Tim Bishop is leading by a solid margin, which will only grow as we count absentee ballots.”
Altschuler spokesperson Rob Ryan said the results now show the Altschuler camp had been right all along in its decision to not concede.
“We knew the Bishop team had jumped the gun on claiming victory,” he said.
On Monday, the Board of Elections began its state-mandated audit of 3 percent of all machines, according to Mr. Rogers. Absentee and military ballots won’t even be counted for another week. There are bout 9,500 absentee ballots in play in the congressional race.
Mr. Ryan said he believes a winner will not be declared in the congressional race until the end of the month.
Mr. Rogers, speaking in a Board of Elections building “filled with lawyers,” declined to estimate when the 2010 election finally would be over.
“We have a lot still to do,” he said.
[email protected]

11/05/10 9:34pm
11/05/2010 9:34 PM

Dan Losquadro

Assembly candidate Dan Losquadro said Saturday that he believes he has defeated incumbent Marc Alessi (D-Shoreham), after a Suffolk County Board of Elections recanvassing has him leading by nearly 900 votes.
Mr. Losquadro, who said he was cautiously optimistic he would win after the first count Tuesday night, said he is now “confident” he will be declared winner when the final results become official.
“I don’t know if his camp is ready to concede or not, but I’m confident it’s not going to change from here,” Mr. Losquadro said.
Preliminary Board of Elections results had Mr. Losquadro ahead by just 40 votes when the polls closed Tuesday. But the Republican candidate, who currently serves as minority leader in the Suffolk County Legislature,  said he picked up votes in several districts that had Mr. Alessi ahead by a wide margin.
“I knew my numbers were going to move,” he said. ” When you see some election districts that had 92 percent or 86 percent for Alessi, you figure you’ll gain some votes there. I didn’t see any anomalies like that where I was leading big.”
Mr. Alessi did not immediately return a call for comment.
[email protected]

10/12/10 5:33pm
10/12/2010 5:33 PM

The battle to quiet the skies of the East End continued last Wednesday when Assemblyman Marc Alessi (D-Shoreham) met with a Federal Aviation Administration head for talks on how to track down helicopter pilots violating current rules and voluntary agreements.
Currently, a voluntary agreement asks pilots to fly over Long Island Sound more than a mile offshore, at an altitude of 2,500 feet. A new FAA rule, slated to take effect next spring or summer, would increase that altitude to 3,000 feet to drown out the buzz of the choppers. Most pilots have been flying at just 500 feet, disturbing the peace out East, according to residents and elected leaders.
But East End officials say the new rule is flawed since it would still allow helicopters heading to East Hampton Airport and Westhampton to fly over residential neighborhoods on the North Fork.
Mr. Alessi created a website, www.quietskiesLI.com, for residents to lodge complaints against helicopter operations, documenting the time and location of the violating helicopter so it can be cross-referenced by the FAA and the offending pilot can eventually be nabbed.
The website has garnered an eye-popping 2,300 complaints in less than three months.
“People are doing their job to identify helicopters that are the biggest nuisance and the FAA has been able to tabulate flights and patterns,” Mr. Alessi said. “[The FAA] is going to come up with a methodology that lessens the burden on the North Shore and the North Fork.”
Helicopters currently take a route over the North Shore, regardless of whether their destination is on the North or South shore. Mr. Alessi said he wants to ensure that the North Shore or South Shore route is taken depending on the destination, so as not to overburden one area.
Meanwhile, the East End Helicopter Noise Stakeholders Group, a team of citizens and officials advocating for a change in chopper traffic, has compiled a list of recommendations that is endorsed by East End officials. The recommendations include:
• The use of a South Shore route offshore and over the Atlantic Ocean in addition to the North Shore route, with helicopters flying at least one mile offshore.
• A requirement that helicopters fly at an altitude of 3,000 feet.
• Establishments of a helicopter corridor through JFK airspace to encourage using the South Shore route.
• A stipulation that all East Hampton and Montalk Airport traffic from the North Shore route to proceed east of Plum Gut before turning south.
•FAA procedures for enforcement and monitoring of chopper traffic and noise reduction by Hamptons airports.
Mr. Alessi said the FAA’s Regional Administrator for the Eastern Region, Carmine Gallo, is committed to holding offending pilots accountable. He said the next step is for Mr. Gallo to meet with other East End elected officials.
“We’re holding them to their commitment to come out to Suffolk County and hold a meeting with elected officials so we can sort through the information and complaints that have been filed,” Mr. Alessi said.
[email protected]