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John Jay LaValle, former GOP party leader, to run for Port Jefferson mayor

Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump is introduced by Suffolk

Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump is introduced by Suffolk County Republican Party chairman John Jay LaValle at a party fundraiser at the Emporium nightclub in Patchogue on April 14, 2016. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Former Suffolk County Republican leader John Jay LaValle said he plans to run for mayor in Port Jefferson.

LaValle, 51, a former Brookhaven Town supervisor who retired as county GOP chairman earlier this month, will try to unseat five-term Mayor Margot J. Garant when village elections are held June 18.

In an interview Friday, LaValle said he had been asked by village residents to run in previous elections, but he had dismissed the idea because of his role on the county Republican committee.

“A small group of people who knew what I was doing [retiring] came back to me and said, ‘Would you do this?’  ” LaValle said. “We need some fresh blood and a fresh approach.”

Garant, 54, a real estate attorney, ran unopposed two years ago. She last faced an opponent in 2015, when she defeated challenger Dave Forgione, 1,162 to 753.

She said she was surprised that LaValle was running, adding he had not previously shown an interest in village issues.

“He’s never been involved in any level,” she said. “He’s never attended a [village] board meeting. ... National politics has no place in local politics.”

LaValle has appeared on television as a surrogate, or advocate, for President Donald Trump. He said he is putting his political career aside after 10 years of leading the county GOP. Brookhaven GOP chair Jesse Garcia succeeded LaValle in the county post.

“I spent 10 years in that job and I enjoyed that immensely,” LaValle said. “Now that I’m moving out of politics, I feel that I can work locally and work with other residents to help make the village of Port Jefferson the best that it can be.”

LaValle, a Port Jefferson resident for 22 years, was Brookhaven Town supervisor from December 2000 to 2006; he had been a town councilman for four years before that.

Both Garant and LaValle come from prominent political families. Garant’s mother is former mayor Jeanne Garant; LaValle’s brother Kevin is a Brookhaven councilman, and their cousin is state Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson).

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