Rebecca Sanin, CEO of the Health and Welfare Council of...

Rebecca Sanin, CEO of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island. Credit: James Escher

A lawsuit filed Monday seeks to block Democrat Rebecca Sanin from a Suffolk County race considered to be Democrats’ strongest chance of regaining a seat in the Republican-controlled legislature.

Sanin, 45, of Huntington Station, is challenging first-term incumbent Republican Manuel Esteban, 46, of East Northport, in the 16th Legislative District race. Suffolk Democrats last week nominated her to replace their previous candidate, Sidney Joyner, who was ruled ineligible because he does not live in the district. The newly redrawn district covers parts of West Hills, Huntington Station, South Huntington, Elwood and Brentwood.

The lawsuit is the second filed in recent weeks by Alvin White, a Republican voter from Huntington Station who sued to have Joyner removed from the Nov. 7 ballot. Judge Thomas F. Whelan ruled against Joyner earlier this month, saying it was “undisputed” that he does not live in the correct district.

The latest lawsuit states that because Joyner was disqualified, the petitions he circulated to get on the ballot were invalid and thus no substitution can be made. Case law establishes that a valid petition is needed to create a vacancy on the ballot, according to the lawsuit.

Suffolk County Democratic chairman Rich Schaffer said the law allows the party to substitute the candidate.

“Why are the Republicans so afraid of allowing voters to have a choice?” Schaffer said. “Instead of wasting resources in court, they should be out talking to voters.”

Steven Losquadro, attorney for the plaintiff and counsel to the Suffolk County Republican Committee, said: "The only thing anyone should be afraid of here is that the law will not be followed. The Petitioner has demonstrated that in situations like this, where a candidate never could have been found qualified to run for office, the underlying petition is invalid and no substitution is allowed. We merely ask that the law be applied fairly and consistently."

Esteban said his "focus remains entirely on serving the residents of the 16th Legislative District to the best of my ability, and continuing the historic accomplishments attained on their behalf,” he said.

Sanin, CEO of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, called the lawsuit a “meritless effort.”

“I shouldn't be surprised, but I am disappointed for the voters who deserve better,” she said.

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