Suffolk County Legis. Rudy Sunderman (R-Mastic-Shirley) announced that he would be stepping down as of March 21 to pursue a career in the fire/EMS field as the Suffolk County Fire Academy director.
“Those who know me well know that this field has been my passion and with many years’ experience,” he wrote in a letter announcing that he will be vacating his seat. “I will continue to serve as your local fire chief. It has been an honor and privilege to serve as legislator of the 3rd District and I am proud of the many goals and accomplishments we have reached together as a community. I am so honored for the overwhelming support I have received. It has been great to meet the many local community members in the district as we all worked towards many common goals.”
For now, he said, he will be focused on fulfilling his duties as legislator as he transitions to serve his community in his new venture.
During his tenure, the Mastic-Shirley Sewer District vote was approved, sidewalks at William Floyd Elementary School were constructed, the funding for Mastic Beach Downtown Revitalization and Violets Cove future plans were secured, the fish ladder in Yaphank is in the final steps (bids are out), new construction of the road on Yaphank Avenue, and road work was done to upgrade Longwood Road and more.
“I will be here to support our future elected officials on a smooth transition,” he added, noting that this is not the end of his political career. “I will be back again running for local government and I hope I have earned your trust, support and dedication.”
Sunderman was also indited on perjury charges in 2019 for continuing to work for the Centereach Fire District even after an ethics board told him he would have to quit after accepting his role as legislator. Sunderman has said he was innocent of those charges and has since fought them.
He is a lifelong Mastic resident known to have revolved his life around family and community. He began his 30-year volunteering career early on as a member of the Mastic Fire Department since 1987 and even served as chief of the department twice, from 1999 to 2003 and 2015 to present. He began a career as a CVS district manager before going on to follow his dream career in community service. In 2003, he was hired as a deputy chief instructor for the Suffolk County Fire Academy. In 2004, he became assistant chief fire coordinator of the Suffolk County Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services. In 2010, he became district manager/deputy treasurer for the Centereach Fire Department. He also served as the Mastic Fire District commissioner from 2004 to 2013 for two five-year terms.
He served as the Suffolk County legislator in the 3rd District since 2017. Former Suffolk Legis. Kate Browning was term-limited in 2017 after 12 years in office. However, she has previous told this publication that it was possible to interpret the county term-limit law as permitting a lawmaker to come back after sitting out for two years.
She went on to run in a Democratic primary to challenge Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin in 2018. She is currently the director of code enforcement for the Town of Babylon.
According to the Suffolk County Democratic Committee, there are rumors she might run for Sunderman’s vacated seat in a special election scheduled for likely sometime in May, after the resignation is official.
“With the news that Sunderman will be resigning, we’ve had conversations with former Legis. Kate Browning and are excited about the possibility of her running for her former seat,” Keith Davies, the spokesman for Suffolk County Democratic Committee, told the Long Island Advance.
Browning has served as Suffolk County legislator since 2005. Over 12 years, Browning has worked on a diverse range of issues including the environment, community revitalization and the opioid epidemic. She also fought for the ShotSpotter implementation in North Bellport and secured funding for sewers in the Mastic-Shirley.
Browning was born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She and her husband, Steve, have lived in Shirley for over 25 years.
According to Jesse Garcia, Brookhaven GOP chairman, he is currently meeting with stakeholders of the community and the Republican party before announcing the candidate to fill his seat.
“Rudy is a firefighter first and always, and this is a first responder; this is his dream job to be director of training. We should all [give a] small sigh of relief that this is the man that will be training our future first responders for generations to come,” Garcia said of Sunderman’s stepping down. “It is very important that the Republicans retain this very important seat. It was Sunderman who saw important passage of sewers and focused on tearing down hundreds of zombie homes that have plague that neighborhood,” he added, noting that the party is prepared to win the special election. “We have a stable of candidates in that community.”