Huntington Town Republican Joshua Price was named Tuesday to fill the $106,852-a-year vacancy caused by the firing last month of senior assistant Suffolk elections commissioner, Michael Torres, a Conservative.
Price, 44, an attorney from Commack, started immediately in the job on the Board of Elections’ busiest day of the year.
“He is an elections lawyer first and foremost and it brings us on par with our Democratic counterparts,” said Nick LaLota, Republican elections commissioner, who made the appointment.
Democrats have their own attorney, Jeanne O’Rourke, who serves as a $121,799-a-year deputy commissioner.
Republicans have not had an elections attorney at the board since 2006, when Robert Garfinkle was fired as commissioner after repeatedly ignoring the patronage recommendations of then-Suffolk GOP chairman Harry Withers.
All jobs at the board are exempt from civil service rules and the two major political parties share equally in 122 board jobs. Virtually all hiring is done on the recommendation of party leaders.
Price replaces Torres, the secretary of the Suffolk Conservative committee who was fired only days after the minor party made a cross-endorsement deal in which his future father-in-law, Conservative Howard Heckman, got Democratic backing for State Supreme Court.
Torres had been a GOP appointee before his firing. Torres also faces a felony charge of filing a false instrument by failing to list two misdemeanor convictions in applying for a seat on Islip Assessment Board of Review. He later resigned from the part-time job. Torres has pleaded not guilty.
“I wish him all the best,” Torres said of Price Tuesday evening.
Price is a former congressional aide who in 2010 unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination for Congress and lost a race in 2013 as the party’s candidate for Huntington Town board.
Price, town board member Gene Cook and a third partner, real estate agent Tim Cavanaugh, have been embroiled in a battle with the town for altering an external stairway on a multifamily dwelling they had bought without getting a building permit or a certificate of occupancy.
Price and his partners say the house always has been a multifamily dwelling, although it is zoned single family.
A building inspector’s report indicated that the home must be returned to single-family use or obtain a variance from the town zoning board of appeals. Last month, a motion to dismiss the case was rejected in court.