Political newcomer Monica Martinez handily defeated veteran Suffolk Legis. Rick Montano in unofficial returns last night in a bitter primary battle for the Democratic nomination for the 9th District seat.
Martinez, 36, who is the sister of Tony Martinez, the co-chair of County Executive Steve Bellone's transition team two years ago, defeated Montano, 63, who had run without opposition since he first was elected in 2003.
"This community is starving for representation," Martinez said. "The people are tired of not being represented, of not being heard . . . of their votes being taken for granted."
Bellone, speaking at her headquarters, called her win "overwhelming" for the community. "What tonight really represents is a dramatic victory for the people of CI [Central Islip], the people of Brentwood," he said.
Montano conceded but vowed to campaign as the Working Families candidate. "We leave with our heads held high," he said, adding: "It's been a great ride. Temporarily, we are off the roller coaster but you never know."
Martinez acknowledged the pair will face off again in November. "There's still a lot of work to do, still another election," she said.
The contest was fierce in the heavily minority district that takes in Brentwood, Central Islip and North Bay Shore. Martinez assailed Montano for "absentee leadership" and siding with Republicans on some issues.
Montano countered that Martinez, vice principal in Brentwood's East Middle School, has never involved herself in community issues. Montano also said she was put forward as a candidate to punish him for taking on Bellone on various issues.
Montano was unanimous choice of the Democratic county convention in May, but the Islip Democratic executive committee later backed Martinez, a position Montano says violates party rules.
Islip Democrats funneled more than $40,000 into Martinez's campaign, much of it money the town party got from Bellone's campaign as well as the Suffolk and Babylon Democratic committees.
"I'm very disappointed that we were in many ways crossed by our own party, but I'm still a Democrat," Montano said.
"There was a lot of money spent on this campaign," he said, calling some of the campaign literature "scurrilous."
In other Suffolk legislative primaries:
13th District: Republican challenger Rob Trotta, a Suffolk police detective and Kings Park civic leader, defeated party designee Paul Hennings and labor leader Mario Mattera. Trotta had argued the district needs a full-time legislator and promised to retire as a police office if he won.
8th District: Democrat William Lindsay III, namesake son of the county legislature's ailing and term-limited presiding officer who was looking to succeed his father, edged challenger Anthony Gralto of Sayville in unofficial returns on the Working Families line. Two years ago, that ballot line was worth 4.24 percent of the vote.
With Sophia Chang
and Candice Ruud