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James Mazzarella, Kate Browning face off Tuesday in Suffolk legislature race

Republican James Mazzarella and Democrat Kate Browning are

Republican James Mazzarella and Democrat Kate Browning are running in Tuesday's special election for the Suffolk County Legislature's 3rd District. Credit: Composite: Suffolk County Republican Party, left; James Escher

Residents of Suffolk County’s 3rd Legislative District head to the polls Tuesday for a special election between former Democratic Legis. Kate Browning and Republican union official James Mazzarella.

Browning, 61, of Shirley, and Mazzarella, 55, of Moriches, are vying to fill the district seat in south-central Brookhaven Town until the end of the year.

The candidates are expected to run against each other again in November for a full two-year term.

The seat has been vacant since former Legis. Rudy Sunderman (R-Shirley) resigned March 21.

Mazzarella, who also has the Conservative Party ballot line, is secretary-treasurer of Long Island Public Service Employees union Local 342.

Browning is Babylon Town’s code enforcement director. She had held the 3rd District seat until 2017, when she was term-limited after 12 consecutive years in office.

Republican district voters, backed by the county GOP, sued to get Browning off the ballot earlier this year, arguing that her candidacy was invalid under county term-limits law.

A lower court agreed on April 26 and ordered her name off the ballot. But an appellate court panel reversed that decision on May 5, ruling that the county law does not impose a lifetime term limit.

More than 1,600 people already have cast votes in the race, according to the Suffolk County Board of Elections. They include 618 residents who cast ballots in nine days of early voting that ended Sunday, and 1,095 voters who had submitted absentee ballots as of Monday afternoon, Democratic elections commissioner Anita Katz said.

There are 51,689 registered voters in the district, Katz said.

Sunderman, 51, of Mastic, pleaded guilty on March 19 to misdemeanor filing of a false financial disclosure form with the county ethics board about his work with the Centereach Fire District, prosecutors said. Sunderman said his resignation was not related to his criminal case.

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Voters with polling place questions can contact the Suffolk Board of Elections at 631-852-4500.

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