Three candidates will face off Tuesday in a special election to succeed former Suffolk County Legis. DuWayne Gregory in the 15th Legislative District.
Jason Richberg, Christopher Connors and Jackie Duodu-Burbridge are vying to represent an area that includes Amityville, Wyandanch, Copiague, East Farmingdale and Wheatley Heights.
Richberg, a West Babylon Democrat who works as clerk to the legislature, said he would use his legislative experience to improve “how things work” and keep an open dialogue with constituents.
Connors, an Amityville Republican who works part time for a state senator, said he wants to cut county spending, stop the red-light camera program and stop tax breaks to the Wyandanch Rising project.
Duodu-Burbridge, a Copiague Democrat who is running on the Working Families party line, said she wants to advocate for people in the district and create more affordable housing and reliable public transportation.
The trio of candidates is seeking to replace Gregory, who left office in January to become a Babylon town councilman after more than a decade in the County Legislature.
Richberg, 37, has worked in the legislature for the last decade, beginning as Gregory’s chief of staff in 2010. He became deputy clerk to the legislature in 2014 and was appointed clerk in 2015. Richberg has a bachelor’s degree from Wilberforce University in Ohio and is working toward a master’s degree in organizational leadership online from Claremont Lincoln University in California. He is married with two children.
Richberg, who is also running on the Independence party line, touted his experience handling the county’s tax and budget process and said he wants to improve affordable housing, water quality and public transportation. He said he wants to potentially connect public buildings, such as schools, to sewers if they have costly waste management problems, and make sure those buildings are accessible by bus, especially on election days. He said he would also push for more state funding for the county bus system.
“We need to advocate for our fair share,” Richberg said.
Richberg said he also wants to diversify county hiring by improving outreach to residents about Civil Service job openings and attend community meetings in every hamlet.
Connors, 61, has worked for state Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) since 2017. He previously spent more than 20 years as a Wall Street trader and then spent 16 years as a stay-at-home parent to his two daughters.
Connors challenged Gregory for his seat in November and said at the time he was not campaigning against the incumbent. Now that the seat is open, he said he is actively running.
Connors, who is also running on the Conservative party line, said he wants to end the county red-light camera program, which he called “nothing but a revenue grab.” He also wants to cut county spending, citing a state comptroller’s office report finding Suffolk to be the most fiscally stressed county in New York in 2018. Connors said he also wants to reform the shelter system to make Suffolk’s homeless shelters a place more people are comfortable staying.
Connors said he would work to end tax breaks given to the Albanese Corp. for its Wyandanch Rising project, saying the deal hurts a school district already facing financial troubles.
Duodu-Burbridge, 42, is a consultant who has worked in the nonprofit sector for 15 years. She previously worked as the director of development at Mercy Haven Inc, a housing agency serving the homeless and individuals with mental illness. She said she also previously worked as a legislative aide to Nassau Legis. Siela Bynoe.
Duodu-Burbridge has a bachelor’s degree from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, and a master’s degree in business administration from Hofstra University. She is married with a daughter.
Duodu-Burbridge said she is running for office because she felt the Democratic process was “skirted” when the Democratic Party picked Richberg as its candidate without a primary. Duodu-Burbridge noted that she would be the county’s first black female legislator if elected.
“It’s important that as the county moves closer toward greater diversity and full inclusion, that we make sure the voices of women like me and the experiences of women like me are heard at the highest governing body in the county,” she said.
Duodu-Burbridge said she wants to work with other levels of government to ensure that public schools “are equitable and fair across all schools” and reduce disparities in suspension rates of black children.
- Age: 37
- Registered party affiliation: Democrat
- Party lines: Democrat, Independence
- Hometown: West Babylon
- Profession: clerk to the county legislature since 2015; previously deputy clerk and chief of staff to former Legis. DuWayne Gregory
- Education: bachelor's degree from Wilberforce University; seeking master's degree from Claremont Lincoln University
- Family: married with two children
- Age: 61
- Party affiliation: Republican
- Party lines: Republican, Conservative
- Hometown: Amityville
- Profession: part-time legislative aide to state Sen. Phil Boyle; previously Wall Street trader and stay-at-home parent
- Education: high school
- Family: two children
- Age: 42
- Party affiliation: Democrat
- Party line: Working Families Party
- Hometown: Copiague
- Profession: nonprofit consultant; previously worked as development director at Mercy Haven Inc. and as legislative aide in Nassau County
- Education: bachelor's degree from Spelman College; master's degree in business administration from Hofstra University
- Family: married with one child