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BOE: Suffolk sheriff race won’t be resolved for weeks

Larry Zacarese and Democrat Errol Toulon debate at

Larry Zacarese and Democrat Errol Toulon debate at News 12 as they compete for Suffolk County sheriff on Oct. 17, 2017. Credit: Newsday

The Suffolk County sheriff’s race remained too close to call and won’t be resolved for weeks, county Board of Elections officials said Wednesday.

Democrat Errol Toulon, a former New York City deputy corrections commissioner, leads Republican Larry Zacarese, the Stony Brook University assistant police chief, by 1,354 votes out of 285,366 votes cast on Election Day.

There are another 14,113 absentee ballots to be counted and more that will come in up to seven days after the election, according to Republican Election Commissioner Nick LaLota.

Democratic chairman Rich Schaffer said he liked Toulon’s chances. “I think he’ll be the next sheriff,” Schaffer said.

Toulon would be the first black countywide elected official in Suffolk history.

LaLota said Republican absentee ballots outnumber Democrats’ by 840.

“Given the number of Republican ballots compared to Democrat, Zacarese has a fighter’s chance of winning,” LaLota said.

He said the race wouldn’t be decided anytime soon. “Expect this to be decided sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” he said.

Schaffer said he expected votes to start being counted next week, but LaLota said it would be premature to say when ballots will begin to be counted.

Zacarese, 42, of Kings Park, issued a statement Thursday morning saying he was “extremely confident that after all of the absentee ballots are counted that we will be victorious.”

Toulon, 55, of Lake Grove, in a statement Thursday, said, “I am hopeful we can quickly move to count every valid ballot and I am confident that once all the ballots are counted I’ll be officially elected Sheriff.”

Toulon joined the ballot last month after state Sen. Phil Boyle lost a Republican primary to Zacarese. Democratic, Conservative and Independence party leaders shifted candidates to nominate Toulon, a Suffolk Water Authority board member and former Suffolk deputy county executive who worked for the New York City Department of Correction for 25 years.

Zacarese, who had pulled the upset victory over Boyle, ran as the outsider who would take politics out of the sheriff’s office.

Another race that will come down to absentee ballots is the 8th Legislative District, where Legis. William J. Lindsay III (D-Bohemia) holds a 243-vote lead against Republican Anthony Piccirillo, a restaurant worker from Bohemia.

Lindsay, the son of the former presiding officer, said there are 911 absentee ballots left to count in the race, which had historically high turnout.

“Obviously I’d much rather have it over and done with, but I think at the end of the day, when absentees are counted, we’ll be all right,” he said.

Piccirillo said, “I’m biting my fingernails.” He said, “We ran a really tight race against a guy with name recognition through the roof.”

Suffolk Democrats held on to control of the Suffolk Legislature on Tuesday but lost their supermajority. That means Democrats will need to get at least one Republican’s approval to borrow money.

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