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Suffolk legislature: Seat-shift discussed in presiding officer talks

In the wheeling and dealing for the Suffolk County Legislature’s next presiding officer, several legislative sources say a behind the scenes maneuver is under discussion to have Assemb. Robert Sweeney not run for re-election next fall as a lure for Legis. DuWayne Gregory to seek the state seat next November rather than presiding officer in January.

The move, sources say is to clear the way for Legis. Louis D’Amaro who is reportedly County Executive Steve Bellone’s favored contender.

However, state sources say that Sweeney, 64, a 25-year Albany veteran, has indicated to Richard Schaffer, Suffolk Democratic chairman, that he will probably run. Schaffer himself downplayed the idea: “No one tell’s Bob Sweeney what to do.” Gregory, meanwhile, said, “I haven’t been approached directly to seek any office.”

Meanwhile, names have also surfaced for top aide to the presiding officer, a job now held by Terry Pearsall. Although Pearsall, who is on dialysis, was expected to retire at year’s end, sources say he is willing to remain if the new presiding officer is someone he can work with and wants him to stay.

An early name to succeed Pearsall had been Bellone aide Lisa Wieber Santeramo, but her name has ebbed and that of Eric Rotondi, who ran the Democrats’ county legislature campaign, has gained because he comes from Schaffer, not Bellone. He has also worked with many of the lawmakers in their campaigns.

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