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Phil Boyle won’t get Democratic nod for Suffolk sheriff

State Sen. Phil Boyle, who is running for

State Sen. Phil Boyle, who is running for Suffolk County sheriff, greets people outside the 7-Eleven in West Islip on Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017. Credit: Steve Pfost

State Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) won’t get the Democratic Party’s endorsement for Suffolk County sheriff, likely sending him back to Albany to complete his third term.

Democrats plan to designate Errol Toulon Jr., a board member of the Suffolk County Water Authority and a former deputy commissioner for the New York City Department of Corrections, Suffolk Democratic Chairman Rich Schaffer said.

Toulon said Schaffer also is setting up meetings with Conservative and Independence Party officials to try to secure their lines as well.

Stony Brook University Deputy Police Chief Larry Zacarese pulled off an upset win over Boyle in the Republican primary last week, easily defeating the veteran Albany lawmaker.

On election night and the days after, Boyle had insisted he would be a general election candidate. He and Schaffer had held open the possibility that Boyle could get the Democratic nomination.

Boyle on Monday said he would announce a decision about his plans this week — “sooner rather than later,” he said.

Suffolk GOP chairman John Jay LaValle called Toulon’s candidacy the product of “inappropriate backroom deals.” He said Zacarese was the most conservative candidate in the race.

“The appropriate thing for Sen. Boyle to do is to help the Republican Party win” the sheriff’s race, LaValle said. “The party in the past has elected him to the state Assembly and Senate.”

Zacarese had attacked Boyle for his lack of direct law enforcement experience, and Schaffer said the primary showed “the race is about experience.”

Toulon, 55, of Lake Grove, said in an interview that when Democrats first named their candidate on June 1, he wasn’t interested in the sheriff’s job. He had left his job in January as a New York City Corrections Department deputy commissioner of operations, which he described as an “exhausting and demanding job.” He said he got “re-energized” over the course of the summer.

His experience in New York City included overseeing the intelligence unit, which monitors gang activity in the jail, giving him experience that he could bring to Suffolk, he said.

“It’s a great opportunity to bring significant change to the office,” he said. “I’m an admirer of what [Suffolk Sheriff] Vinnie DeMarco has done. But it’s a chance to take things in a different direction not only on gangs, but the opioid crisis.” He also said he wanted to work on a “strong re-entry program” for inmates once they’re released from prison.

Boyle currently holds the Conservative and Independence lines. Suffolk Conservative Chairman Frank Tinari said discussions about replacements for Boyle are “still premature” until Boyle makes a final decision. He said Toulon’s “name has been brought up as a potential candidate” and that the party would be setting up interviews.

Boyle and the current Democratic sheriff’s candidate, Stuart Besen, would have to be given minor party judicial lines for them to be removed from the ballot. Besen has said he’d be willing to be replaced as the Democratic candidate.

Toulon left the city corrections department Jan. 31 after he was asked for his letter of resignation, he said. In June, he filed a federal employment complaint against the city, alleging he had been the victim of racial discrimination. He said he experienced retaliation for refusing to “forge” numbers on violence at the jail. The city has denied wrongdoing.

Toulon was a 2012 Democratic candidate against State Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) until six weeks before Election Day, when he withdrew to become an assistant deputy county executive overseeing the county’s traffic court and Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services Department for Bellone, leaving Flanagan to run unopposed.

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