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Republican James Mazzarella to face Democrat Kate Browning in special election

James Mazzarella, left, Republican candidate for Suffolk County

James Mazzarella, left, Republican candidate for Suffolk County Legislature's third district, and Democratic candidate Kate Browning. Credit: Suffolk County Republican Party/James Escher

Suffolk County Republicans announced Tuesday they have tapped union official James Mazzarella to run for county Legis. Rudy Sunderman’s seat in an expected special election.

Mazzarella, 55, of Moriches, is secretary treasurer of Long Island Public Sector Employees union Local 342. He also is a member of the Brookhaven Town Zoning Board of Appeals.

He will face Democratic nominee Kate Browning, 61, of Shirley, who held the Third District legislative seat until the end of 2017, when she was term-limited. Browning is director of code enforcement in Babylon Town.

County Democrats announced her nomination several weeks ago.

Mazzarella said his agenda would include tackling county financial problems, improving the economy, revitalizing downtowns and controlling taxes.

"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 in statement.

Browning said she is running on her record, including cleaning up abandoned "zombie" homes and securing funding for clean water infrastructure.

"The needs of the communities of the 3rd Legislative District are great and there is no time for a learning curve," Browning said in a statement. "No one will fight harder or be a more effective advocate for this community."

Sunderman will resign his legislative seat March 21 to become deputy director of the Suffolk County Fire Academy.

A special election to fill the remainder of Sunderman's term, through Dec. 31, must be held within 90 days of his departure.

Mazzarella and Browning also are expected to compete in the Nov. 2 general election for a full two-year term.

Sunderman (R-Shirley), who has pleaded not guilty to perjury charges for allegedly lying to the county Board of Ethics, is stepping down after two terms in office. He has said he is innocent of all charges.

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