Brookhaven Democrats Monday night elected Jon Schneider, an aide to Rep. Timothy Bishop, as the new Brookhaven Democratic chairman even though there was a last-minute floor fight to challenge him.
Louis Brida, 64, vetran Holbrook committee member, was put forward by recently defeated Democratic town board candidate Ira Bernstein, to oppose Schneider. The party convention drew abbut 150 committee members at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Holtsville.
However, Brida asked that the voting be interrupted about a quarter of the way through the roll call vote and withdrew when he had not received a single vote. “I decline,” he said. “I withdraw and vote for Jon Schneider.”
Bernstein, put Brida’s name forward because he felt party officials earlier this fall did little to help his campaign against Republican incumbent Kathy Walsh, who is also deputy supervisor to Democratic town Supervisor Mark Lesko. Bernstein said he was sending a message to Schneider that he has to “unite all parts of the party.”
Schneider replaces Marsha Laufer. In her eight years at the helm she not only helped bring about council districts in the town but also became the first town Democratic leader ever to elect two successive Democratic town supervisors.
Laufer, whose husband Henry has been a top official of Renaissance Technologies, also was a major financial benefactor for the party, and her fundraising fueled much of the local party’s success.
While Laufer is officiallly moving to Florida, she said she will return each fall to help local campaigns. Even as she exits, a $250-a-head fundraiser is planned for Wednesday night at Danford’s in Port Jefferson, both to honor Laufer and help bolster party coffers.
County Democratic Chairman Richard Schaffer hailed Laufer at the convention as a “truly remarkable woman,” and said the party would “never have been as competitive” as it became without her “infectious enthusiasm” — whether it was knocking on doors, making phone calls or helping make buttons and signs.
“This is a very emotional night,” said Laufer, who was given a large bouquet of flowers, as she thanked party officials, workers and elected officials. “You gave us a cause to stand up for,” she told the crowd. “We all shared a love of progressive political activism.”