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Suffolk Election Results Finally Official

Thu, 12/10/2020 - 14:22
Rep. Lee Zeldin has been reelected to Congress.
Durell Godfrey

Though President Trump continues to deny his electoral defeat, elections closer to home were finally settled last week, one month after Election Day.

Representative Lee Zeldin will serve a fourth term, his re-election in New York's First Congressional District having been certified by the Suffolk County Board of Elections last Thursday. Although Nancy Goroff, his Democratic challenger, closed the gap considerably as absentee, affidavit, and unscanned ballots were counted, Mr. Zeldin, a Republican and one of the president's most ardent supporters, was re-elected by a comfortable margin. The final tally, according to the board of elections, had Mr. Zeldin winning 205,715 votes to Ms. Goroff's 169,294 votes, or 54.86 percent to 45.14 percent.

Prior to the counting of absentee, affidavit, and unscanned ballots, which was delayed last month when a board of elections official tested positive for Covid-19, Mr. Zeldin led by 61.3 percent to Ms. Goroff's 38.7 percent. At 9.7 percent, his ultimate margin of victory was considerably larger than in 2018, when he bested Perry Gershon, an East Hampton resident, by just four percentage points.

Ms. Goroff, who took a leave of absence from her position as chairwoman of Stony Brook University's chemistry department to campaign for Congress, was the favorite in East Hampton Town, however. According to the board of elections, she ultimately won 10,162 votes to Mr. Zeldin's 4,908. Ms. Goroff also bested Mr. Zeldin in Southampton, Southold, and Shelter Island, but Mr. Zeldin won in vote-rich Brookhaven as well as in Islip, Smithtown, and Riverhead.

Ms. Goroff conceded the election in a message to supporters last Thursday. "Our mission on this campaign has always been rooted in science," she wrote. "We fought for leadership and policy guided by facts and science, and that fight will always be worth it. . . . While this is not the outcome we hoped for, I know that we will get through the challenges ahead together. Under new leadership in the White House, we will overcome this deadly pandemic, we will make sure every person gets the health care they need, we will safely reopen the economy, and we will build a better future for our children and our children's children -- here on Long Island and across the country."

Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo, a Republican from New Suffolk, narrowly defeated Laura Ahearn, an attorney and social worker from Port Jefferson, in the State Senate's Second District, which has not been represented by a Democrat in more than 100 years. In the race to succeed State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, who is retiring after more than 40 years in government, Mr. Palumbo won 87,563 votes to Ms. Ahearn's 82,900, or 51.4 percent to 48.6 percent. In that race, too, the gap between the candidates closed sharply once absentee, affidavit, and unscanned ballots were counted.

Ms. Ahearn was the top vote-getter in East Hampton, however, where she won 10,049 votes to Mr. Palumbo's 4,680 votes. She also won in Southampton and on Shelter Island. In Southold, Mr. Palumbo bested Ms. Ahearn by just 42 votes of the 14,585 cast.

"I am very proud of the work we all did together as we were just 2.7 percentage points away from flipping this seat, by far the closest this race has been in decades," Ms. Ahearn said in a statement conceding the race last week. She congratulated Mr. Palumbo and pledged to "work with him for the betterment of our communities during these difficult times."

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. was re-elected in the State Assembly's First District, handily defeating his Republican challenger, Heather Collins. Mr. Thiele won 40,689 votes to 29,133 for Ms. Collins, or 58.3 percent to 41.7 percent. Mr. Thiele, who will serve a 14th term in the Assembly, won 73 percent of the vote in East Hampton, 75 percent on Shelter Island, and 60 percent in Southampton. He has won by more than 10,000 votes in each of the last three elections.

Mr. Thiele thanked voters in a statement on Monday. "I appreciate the vote of confidence in the job I have done," he said. "I look forward to representing eastern Long Island at this critical time in our history. We face a major task to protect our citizens from the continuing pandemic in the coming months and to undertake an economic recovery that returns health and prosperity to all New Yorkers. I look forward to the challenge."

Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence barely bested President-elect Joseph Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in Suffolk. The president and vice president won by a mere 232 votes in Suffolk County, with 381,253 votes to Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris's 381,021, or 49.4 percent to 49.37 percent. The president-elect and vice president-elect made significant gains over their election night numbers in Suffolk once all the votes were counted. Unofficial tallies of in-person voting had Mr. Trump winning the county by 74,154 (333,617 to Mr. Biden's 259,463 or 55.27 to 42.99 percent), but absentee, paper, and affadavit ballots came in at a rate of 2.55 to 1 for Mr. Biden.

In 2016, Mr. Trump won 52.5 percent of the vote in Suffolk to Hillary Clinton's 44.3 percent. 

Third-party and write-in candidates, including the rapper Kanye West, collectively won around 9,500 votes in the county, though Mr. West's 131 write-in votes put him well behind the Libertarian, Independence, and Green Party candidates.

By an overwhelming margin, Suffolk voters rejected a ballot proposal that would change the term of office for county legislators from two to four years. Slightly more than 70 percent of votes cast were opposed to the proposal. In East Hampton, 8,937 voted no, versus 4,930 in favor. 

Voters did approve a second ballot proposal, to transfer excess funds in the Sewer Assessment Stabilization Reserve Fund to the Suffolk Taxpayer Trust Fund and to eliminate the requirement that interfund transfers be made from the general fund to the Sewer Assessment Stabilization Fund. The proposition passed by 53.6 percent to 46.4 percent.

With Reporting by Christine Sampson

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