An early voting site at the Riverhead Town Senior Center...

An early voting site at the Riverhead Town Senior Center in Aquebogue, shown in October 2020. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Candidates in Democratic primaries in Nassau and Suffolk counties, and in several town races in Suffolk, will face off beginning Saturday when early voting starts.

Registered Democrats can cast ballots at an early voting location until June 23, or at their assigned polling sites on Election Day, June 25.

There are five Democratic primaries for State Senate and Assembly in Nassau and Suffolk, and two town Democratic primaries, in Riverhead and on Shelter Island.

Among the most closely watched primaries for State Legislature is the race in the 6th State Senate District between Nassau County Legis. Siela Bynoe (D-Westbury) and Assemb. Taylor Darling, of Hempstead.

The district has been represented by Democratic State Sen. Kevin Thomas, of Levittown, since 2019. Thomas is not running for reelection after redistricting moved his home outside the 6th District in 2022. 

The 6th District is overwhelmingly Democratic in voter registration and includes the communities of Westbury, Mineola, Hempstead, Rockville Centre, Oceanside and Freeport. Jay Jacobs, Nassau and state Democratic chairman, said the party has not made a public endorsement in the race. The Republican candidate is Thomas Montefinise, of Oceanside, a deputy Nassau County attorney.

“The primary really is the race for us,” said Darling, 40, who was elected to the Assembly in 2018. She said her team has been spending time on the campaign trail reassuring district voters who have said they are skeptical of early voting. 

“We are working to gain the trust and support of our constituents. Every race we run is fast and hard. We've won three elections so far because we don't take anything for granted,” said Darling, who will vacate her Assembly seat in the 18th District. 

Bynoe, 56, agreed on the importance of the primary. 

“This is the leg of the race that is crucial to determine who will be the Democratic nominee moving into the general election,” said Bynoe, who is serving her fifth term on the Nassau legislature. 

“Over the next few weeks and through the primary election, we will continue to meet our voters at the door, at events in the community and continue to share our priorities as we seek support. This is what I love to do. This is the best part of the campaign,” Bynoe told Newsday.

According to the most recent state Board of Elections filings, Bynoe's campaign had $424,303 cash-on-hand and Darling had $241,202. Both candidates are benefiting from a new state public campaign finance program that provides candidates running for statewide or state legislative office with matching funds for small donations of between $5 and $250 from residents in their district.

“It will be interesting to watch these races,” Jacobs said. “But of course this is internal and we are not putting that much money into it, the candidates are. We are saving our money for the general election.”

Following are the other Democratic primaries for State Legislature:

Nassau: 

  • Senate District 7: Kimberly G. Keiserman, of Port Washington, a former high school history and government teacher who works as an education consultant, faces Brad Schwartz, of Roslyn, who works in policy research and commercial real estate management. 
  • Assembly District 18: Lisa Ortiz, of Lakeview, founder of a child care center and president of the Lakeview Library board of trustees, faces Noah Burroughs of Hempstead, a village trustee and teacher in the Hempstead School District. 
  • AD 21: Judy A. Griffin, of Rockville Centre, who represented the district in the Assembly from 2019 to 2022, faces Patricia Maher of Baldwin, an advertising executive. 

Suffolk: 

  • AD 4: Skyler Johnson, of Port Jefferson Station, who has worked in development for a national nonprofit seeking to end drug overdoses, faces Rebecca Kassay, former deputy mayor of the Village of Port Jefferson.

In the Democratic primary for Riverhead Town Justice, incumbent Republican Sean Walter is running against retired Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice William Condon.

Both are registered Conservatives. Walter has secured the nominations of the Republican and Conservative parties.

Walter, 57, is a former Riverhead Town supervisor who was elected as Town Justice in 2020. Walter was elected to fill a vacant seat after the death of longtime Town Justice Allen Smith in 2020. Walter served as supervisor for eight years.

Condon, 65, served as a Suffolk County Court judge for 14 years. He oversaw the homicide trial of Michael Valva, whose son, Thomas, 8, died of hypothermia in 2020 after his father and his father’s fiancee forced him to sleep in their unheated garage.

On Shelter Island, two Democrats are vying for the town board seat vacated by Republican Amber Brach-Williams after she was elected supervisor in November.

Arnott G. Gooding, 78, who lost last year’s supervisor race, faces Robert V. Waife, 64, who lost last June’s Democratic primary for town board.

The primary winner faces Republican Thomas M. Cronin in November’s general election. The winner of the general election will serve the remaining year of Brach-Williams’ seat.

The split town board — two Democrats and two Republicans — failed to reach a consensus earlier this year on an appointment to fill the vacancy for the remainder of 2024.

With Tara Smith and Joe Werkmeister

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