Former Legis. Rudy Sunderman’s (R-Mastic-Shirley) resignation was officially approved by the Suffolk County Legislature effective March 21. Pursuant to law, the vacancy must be filled by a special election to be held within 90 days, scheduled for May 25.
“Now more than ever, Suffolk County residents are counting on their elected leaders to advocate for their needs and best interests,” Suffolk County Legislature presiding officer Rob Calarco said after introducing the resolution. “For that reason, we needed to act swiftly to set a date for this special election to ensure a continuity of service and representation for the residents of the 3rd District.”
In March, former Democratic Legis. Kate Browning announced a campaign run in an effort to return to the 3rd Legislative District seat. Her announcement came after Sunderman announced he would be stepping down to pursue a career in the fire/EMS field as the Suffolk County Fire Academy director.
“These are some of the most challenging times in our history and there is no time for a learning curve,” Browning said of her reasoning behind deciding to return after three and a half years out of office. “I have a proven record getting things done for our community and being tough on corruption, regardless of party. As a former bus driver, union leader, and a military mom, I've lived through the issues facing our community and no one will fight harder or be a more effective advocate for our community than I will as a full-time legislator. I started the sewer project and now more than ever, this infrastructure project needs to begin as soon as possible to get people back to work post-pandemic.”
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.
Sunderman was 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.
Suffolk County Republican Committee chairman Jesse Garcia recently announced Jim Mazzarella as the Republican and Conservative candidate. A Moriches resident, he also promises to be a full-time legislator.
“As a labor leader, community activist and family man, I believe I have the experience and record to fight on behalf of Suffolk’s middle-class families,” Mazzarella said at his kickoff press conference. “I’m committed to using my skills and experience to tackle the county’s finances, jump-start our economy, revitalize our downtowns, control taxes, successfully direct to completion critical infrastructure projects such as sewers, and keep our neighborhoods safe for our families.”
Mazzarella, 55, is a lifelong resident of the community and 1984 William Floyd High School graduate. Mazzarella served on the Board of Trustees of the Crystal Beach Property Owner’s Association for 15 years, and for a decade on the Mastic, Shirley Moriches Community Library, where he served as president from 2013-2018. He has also been a member of the Rotary Club of Shirley and the Mastics since 1998 and a member of the Town of Brookhaven Board of Zoning appeals in 2019 as well.
According to the Suffolk County Board of Elections, details of the location for the vote have not yet been finalized. However, those wishing to request an absentee ballot can do so online at Absenteeballot.elections.ny.gov.