Laura Ahearn, an attorney and social worker from Port Jefferson, has announced that she is a candidate for the State Senate seat held by Kenneth P. LaValle, a Republican also from Port Jefferson.
Ms. Ahearn is the second person to declare a candidacy, following last week’s announcement by Thomas (Tommy John) Schiavoni of North Haven, a Southampton Town councilman. Both are Democrats.
Ms. Ahearn has raised more than $70,000 and has picked up eight union endorsements so far, including the Nassau-Suffolk Building and Construction Trades Council, the Construction Workers of America Local 1108, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 25. In a press release, Ms. Ahearn described Senate District 1 as “a top pickup opportunity for Democrats,” citing its strong support in past elections for former President Barack Obama, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and other prominent Democrats.
“I’m excited and humbled by the early support our campaign has received from individuals, unions, and organizations who want me to go to Albany to fight for Suffolk County families,” Ms. Ahearn said in a statement.
She has 20 years of experience working as an advocate for crime victims, and 10 years helping victims seek compensation. She is the founder and executive director of the Crime Victims Center, Parents for Megan’s Law, a nonprofit organization that works to lower crime rates and provide services to those who have been victims of crimes. The center has a multimillion-dollar budget and close to 30 employees.
Ms. Ahearn has helped write legislation “to strengthen community and victims’ rights and give law enforcement and prosecution the tools they need.”
She is the chairwoman of the legal systems subcommittee of the Suffolk County Family Violence Task Force and represents victims on the Suffolk County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. She has also worked on behalf of victims of hate crimes and helped write a guidebook for medical practitioners on how to recognize the signs of domestic violence.
Ms. Ahearn said she has received recognition from Congress, the Justice Department, the New York State Senate, and the National Association of Counties. She has a master’s degree in social work from Stony Brook University and a juris doctor degree from Touro Law School. She describes herself as “an avid angler” who can often be seen fishing in Suffolk County waters.
“I’ve dedicated my life to protecting and fighting for our most vulnerable,” she said in the statement. “I’m excited to take my experience to Albany to continue fighting for families and ensuring Suffolk County gets its fair share from Albany.”
In the future, Mr. Schiavoni and Ms. Ahearn may face each other in a primary election. According to the website ballotpedia.org, the candidates’ deadline to file the appropriate paperwork is April 2, and the primary vote would be on June 23. Mr. LaValle has not yet publicly said whether he will run again in 2020.