The Suffolk County Legislature has set a March 10 special election to fill DuWayne Gregory’s seat in the 15th District through 2021.
The special election — which will include nine days of early voting — will select a new legislator for a district that encompasses Amityville, Copiague, East Farmingdale, Wyandanch and Wheatley Heights, as well as parts of North Lindenhurst, North Babylon, West Babylon and Farmingdale.
The legislature’s vote came Wednesday, the first day in over a decade without DuWayne Gregory in the seat. Gregory, who was voted into county office in a 2008 special election and became the legislature’s first presiding officer of color in 2014, announced he was resigning last month to serve as a Babylon Town councilman, taking a $64,827 pay cut. His last day in county office was Tuesday.
The county Democratic and Republican parties have not yet finalized their candidates lists, officials said.
But Democrats plan to nominate Jason Richberg, the clerk to the legislature, Democratic county chairman Rich Schaffer said. Richberg, of West Babylon, once served as Gregory’s chief of staff for his district office, so he knows constituents and other legislators, Schaffer said.
“There’s no on the job training for him,” Schaffer said. “If you can’t have DuWayne, the next best thing is having Jason.”
Democratic district committeemen are expected to confirm Richberg’s nomination at a meeting Saturday, Schaffer said.
“I would be honored to be considered,” Richberg said Wednesday.
Republicans expect to decide on a candidate within a week, GOP county chairman Jesse Garcia said. Garcia said he hoped the candidate would get cross-endorsements and appear on the ballot under additional party lines, such as the Conservative, Independence or Libertarian party lines.
“This is a race and a district that has had an independent voice for many years in DuWayne Gregory,” Garcia said. “That’s what we’re looking for in this legislative candidate.”
The parties’ nominations are all that is needed for candidates to get on a special election ballot. For regular elections, candidates must get enough petition signatures to be on the ballot.
A special election must be held within 90 days of a vacancy under the county charter. During that time, the legislature will be nearly evenly split along party lines, with nine Democrats and eight Republicans.