Voters in the Suffolk legislature’s ninth legislative district will go to the polls in a special election Tuesday to elect a new county lawmaker to replace Monica Martinez, who took office as a state senator Jan. 1.
Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday in a race that pits Democrat Sam Gonzalez against Republican Maria Vidal in the district that includes the communities of Brentwood, Central Islip and North Bay Shore. Conservative Anne Wiggins of Central Islip is also on the ballot but has not waged an active campaign.
Vidal, 49, of North Bay Shore is a project manager at Pronto of Long Island, a nonprofit community outreach center, and a first-generation immigrant from El Salvador while Gonzalez, 57 of Brentwood, whose family came from Puerto Rico, is president of 1,200-member IBEW Local 1430 in Westchester.
The district is one of two in Suffolk where minority candidates have the best chance of winning, but Democrats have an edge in voter registration 20,954 to 4,511 over Republicans with 8,967 not aligned with any political party. However, both sides expect a low turnout of 5 to 10 percent because voters are not used to casting ballots at this time of year.
While Republicans have only once since 2003 put up their own candidate, party officials believe Vidal’s immigrant story and her community ties make the race competitive. Gonzalez believes his background in negotiating contracts and dealing with issues facing working people make him the best candidate.
Voters who have questions about polling places or about whether they live in the legislative district can call the Suffolk County Board of Elections at 631-852-4500 .