Local labor leader Peter Zarcone, after just four days as a candidate, has dropped his bid for the Fifth District Assembly seat in the April 24 special election.
Zarcone, 59 of Holtsville, pulled out shortly after noon on Wednesday in a call to Suffolk Democratic chairman Richard Schaffer, who said Zarcone made his decision based on “personal family reasons.”
The special election, one of 11 across the state, is to fill the vacancy created when former Assemb. Al Graf (R-Holbrook) became a District Court Judge Jan. 1.
Doug Smith, 27, of Holbrook, Graf’s aide for the past seven years, is the GOP candidate.
Zarcone, an executive board member of the 1,000-member Laborers Local 66, was formally nominated to make the run at a party meeting Saturday. He said he changed his mind after further discussions with his wife about the impact the job would have on them.
Zarcone, who is not registered in any political party, agreed to run on Democratic line. Nonetheless, the GOP-controlled Brookhaven Town Board last month appointed Zarcone to a new term as an $18,000 a year town planning board member.
William Garbarino, Islip GOP chairman, said he understood that some unions were unhappy Zarcone would be willing to give up his place on the planning board, which deals with zoning issues affecting the construction industry. Zarcone said union officials never talked to him about the issue.
Schaffer said Democrats will interview Deborah Slinowsky, a former Sachem school board member from Holbrook who now works in the Suffolk County Department of Social Services, and Jenn Hann of Ronkonkoma, an aide to Legis. William Lindsay III (D-Bohemia) for the Assembly contest.
The deadline to file documents nominating candidates is today, but Democrats have until Feb. 20 to name a replacement.
Suffolk Republican Chairman John Jay LaValle said the Democrats’ switch boost Smith’s chances.
“He is a very good position to win. He’s the perfect representative for the community,” LaValle said. “He has the institutional knowledge of Albany and know the local issues and he’s young, but not too young.”