Democrat David Lobl, left, and Republican Eric Ari Brown are competing...

Democrat David Lobl, left, and Republican Eric Ari Brown are competing in a special election on Thursday in the 20th New York State Assembly District. Credit: James Escher

Voters in southwest Nassau County will go to the polls Thursday in a special election to fill the New York State Assembly seat vacated by Republican Melissa Miller.

The race for the open seat in District 20 is between Republican Eric Ari Brown, deputy mayor of the Village of Cedarhurst, and Democrat David Lobl, once a special adviser to former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

Both candidates live in Cedarhurst. 

Brown, 54, is president of R. Brown Realty Corp., a design/building firm located in Cedarhurst. He holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Queens College. 

Brown is a longtime Cedarhurst Village trustee who became deputy mayor in 2019. Brown served on the zoning board between 1998 and 2001, and is chairman of the Architectural Review Board. 

Brown, a Franklin Square native and the father of seven children ranging in age 17 to 32 years old, touts his roots in the community. 

Brown said he intends to make public safety and bail reform his top priorities if elected.

"My back is to the city," Brown said. "We are very suburban minded here on Long Island and people forget that."

Lobl, 37, moved to Cedarhurst two years ago from Far Rockaway and is a government relations consultant with his own Cedarhurst-based firm Asher Strategies LLC.

Lobl worked previously at Kasirer LLC, a Manhattan government relations firm, and served as a special assistant to Cuomo from 2012 to 2018.

Lobl holds a degree in Talmudic law from Yeshiva Derech Hatalmud in Brooklyn.

Lobl, who has two children, said as a member of the Democratic Assembly majority he would advocate for "changes to bail laws and ensure our first responders and law enforcement have the resources they need to keep us safe."

Lobl said he also would support measures to lower property and income taxes, suspend the state the gas tax, address inflation and improve flood mitigation efforts.

Nassau Republican chairman Joseph Cairo said the special election is significant because Miller was the first GOP candidate to win the seat after decades of Democratic control.

The last GOP candidate to hold the seat was the late Robert M. Blakeman, father of Republican Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman. 

"Missy [Miller] proved a Republican can win that district and Ari will continue what she started," Cairo told Newsday. 

State and Nassau County Democratic Committee chairman Jay Jacobs called Lobl "a moderate Democrat who will represent that district with distinction … " 

Miller, 57, of Atlantic Beach, was elected to a full term in the Assembly in November 2016 to replace Todd Kaminsky, a Democratic state senator from Long Beach.

Miller resigned her Assembly seat in February, and was appointed to the Hempstead Town Board seat formerly held by Blakeman, who became Nassau County executive on Jan. 1. 

Miller was an advocate for legalization of medical marijuana before becoming an Assembly member.

The 20th Assembly District abuts John F. Kennedy International Airport. In addition to Cedarhurst, the district includes Inwood, Lawrence, Hewlett, Oceanside, East Rockaway and Island Park, along with the barrier island from Atlantic Beach to Point Lookout.

The district has 42,000 registered Democrats and 35,000 Republicans, but favored former GOP President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

During eight days of early voting in the special Assembly election, 1,569 people turned out, according to the Nassau County Board of Elections. 

Polls in the special election will be open from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. Thursday. Voters with questions about their eligibility to vote may call the elections board at 516-571-8683.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated how Republican Melissa Miller was elected to the New York State Assembly. Miller was elected to a full term in the Assembly in November 2016.

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