State Sen. Kenneth LaValle will not seek reelection in 2020, after 44 years in the Legislature. A Republican from Port Jefferson, LaValle is known for his saying: “First district first.”
“I have been privileged to represent these hardworking, impassioned and compassionate individuals, who have stood side-by-side with me to ensure that we preserve our quality of life and advance the goals so important to individuals and families in our region,” LaValle said in a Jan. 10 statement officially announcing his retirement.
LaValle, 80, is known for his advocacy for education, especially within the State University of New York system. He’s also known for his efforts on environmental protection, including preserving 100,000 acres of the Pine Barrens and creating the East End Community Preservation Fund to preserve more land.
In a press conference in Port Jefferson on Jan. 10, he also mentioned other accomplishments he’s proud of, including advocating for foundation aid for schools, expanding mental health services, and creating the STAR tax relief program. He added that many small victories also made his time in the Senate memorable.
“I am blessed to have been given your trust and the opportunity to serve in a job that I have loved for more than 40 years,” Lavalle said. “In the year ahead, as I complete the remainder of my term, I will continue my efforts to accomplish the many goals important to residents and to protect and preserve the unique character of the First Senatorial District.”
Filling the seat
Candidates have already been announcing intentions to run for LaValle’s seat. The race has been a long shot for Democrats, who are now capitalizing on LaValle’s retirement to get in the race. Four candidates are running on the Democratic side so far, including Valerie Cartright, Brookhaven Town first district councilwoman; Tommy John Schiavoni, a Southampton Town councilman; Laura Ahearn, a Suffolk County attorney; and Skyler Johnson, a student at Suffolk County Community College. Republicans recently chose Assemb. Anthony Palumbo to run to replace LaValle.