The sister of a close ally of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has filed more than 6,310 signatures -- 12 times the required number -- to wage a Democratic primary against 10-year veteran county Legis. Rick Montano (D-Brentwood).
Petitions totaling 718 pages were filed for Monica Martinez, a Brentwood middle school assistant principal, at the Suffolk Board of Elections in Yaphank late Tuesday afternoon.
Martinez, in a release, said the number of signatures says "loud and clear it is time for a new voice in our community." She noted the number of signatures is larger than the 5,260 votes Montano received two years ago when he ran unopposed.
Montano, who is running for his last term, on Monday handed in more than 1,600 signatures -- more than three times the 500 signatures required -- but downplayed the number of signatures that Martinez's backers amassed. "I don't have any reaction," Montano said. "It doesn't say anything." Montano conceded that Martinez backers "got out there first."
"It was a surprise candidacy sprung at the last moment," he said, referring to the corps of campaign workers who began seeking signatures June 4, the first day to gather petitions.
But Montano said he knocked on more than 5,000 doors, and "a lot of people who signed for her didn't know she was running against me. A vast majority who signed for her will vote for us."
Russell Leibowitz, Martinez's campaign manager, said the campaign had 25 workers out collecting signatures, but he declined to comment on the number who were paid or volunteer.
Martinez, whose brother Tony Martinez is a Babylon Town Board member and deputy supervisor and was co-chairman of Bellone's transition team, has called Montano an "absent leader" because he refused to chair any legislative committees this year.
Other primary challengers who also filed petitions Tuesday include:
Former Islip Democratic chairman Ivan Young, 48, a lawyer from Bay Shore, who said he and Deborah Slinkowsky of Holbrook filed petitions with 2,841 signatures to run a Democratic primary for Islip Town Board. They needed 2,000 signatures to qualify.
Rob Trotta, a county police detective and a civic leader in Kings Park, who filed more than 1,000 signatures on petitions to run a GOP primary for the 13th District seat now held by term-limited Suffolk Legis. Lynne Nowick (R-St. James). Republican designee Paul Hemmings, a lawyer, has not yet filed, and has another potential GOP primary contender, Mario Mattera of Plumbers Local 2.
Brian Lenz, former assistant director of Brookhaven traffic safety, said he has filed signatures for a Republican town board primary in the second council district to challenge Conservative Jane Bonner, who is the GOP-designated candidate. Lenz needed a minimum of 500 signatures to qualify.
All candidates have until Thursday to file their nominating petitions, opponents will then have time to file objections to the petitions.