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GOP declares victory in Suffolk 16th District legislative race

Republican Manuel Esteban, left, on April 6, and

Republican Manuel Esteban, left, on April 6, and Democrat Susan Berland on April 3, then-candidates for Suffolk County Legislature District 16. Credit: James Escher

Manuel Esteban, the Republican candidate for the Suffolk County Legislature's 16th District, defeated incumbent Democratic Majority Leader Legis. Susan Berland, county Republicans announced.

A win for Esteban, 45, of East Northport, was a "mathematical certainty" after a count of more than 800 absentee ballots Tuesday, Republican Board of Elections Commissioner Nicholas LaLota said Wednesday. Esteban led by 546 votes on election night, according to unofficial results.

The final results won’t be known until at least Monday, when elections officials are allowed to open affidavit ballots.

Esteban, a staff attorney for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, will represent a district including portions of Huntington, Islip and Babylon Towns.

Esteban, who also ran on the Conservative party line, said he will work to make neighborhoods safer, rebuild infrastructure and improve the economy. He said he will partner with local organizations on a series of community service projects, campaign against bail reform and bring a "common-sense approach to government."

"I am humbled by the support of the people, and am looking forward to rolling up my sleeves to get right to work for the communities of the 16th District," Esteban said in a statement.

Berland (D-Dix Hills), a county legislator since 2018, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday morning.

GOP chair Jesse Garcia, who declared Esteban’s victory Tuesday night, said Republicans will control the legislature with at least 11 seats, including registered Conservative Nicholas Caracappa, who caucuses with the GOP.

Democrats had controlled the 18-member county legislature since 2005.

"Today makes official what we saw after the closing of the polls last Tuesday night — that Suffolk voters want the common sense, positive change that this Republican team offered," Garcia, who also works at the Board of Elections as the GOP Hispanic Outreach Coordinator, said in a statement.

Republicans flipped at least two other seats on election night.

Dominick Thorne, a county Board of Elections worker, unseated Presiding Officer Robert Calarco in the 7th District.

Stephanie Bontempi, a private school educator, won a contest for the 18th District against Democratic Huntington Town Councilman Mark Cuthbertson.

The 18th District is currently represented by William Spencer (D-Centerport). Spencer did not run for reelection after his arrest for allegedly trying to trade opioids for sexual favors. He has pleaded not guilty.

With control over the legislature, Republicans will have power over county bonding, spending and jobs. Whether Republicans have a veto-proof supermajority of 12 seats depends on other close races.

The 6th District contest between Republican Brendan Sweeney and incumbent Legis. Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) was too close to call after the absentee count and will likely come down to affidavit ballots, officials said. Anker had been behind by 1,188 votes on election night.

Deputy Presiding Officer Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), who is running for the 1st Congressional District in 2022, is expected to hold onto her 5th District seat after a tight race against Salvatore SB Isabella, LaLota said.

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