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March 31 special election set for vacant Suffolk legislature seat

Suffolk County Comptroller John M. Kennedy Jr. is

Suffolk County Comptroller John M. Kennedy Jr. is sworn in while standing next to his wife Leslie, as members of the Suffolk County Legislature attend an annual organizational meeting inside in Hauppauge on Monday, Jan. 5, 2015. Credit: Steve Pfost

The Suffolk County Legislature on Thursday set a special election for March 31 to fill the legislative seat of Nesconset Republican John M. Kennedy, the new county comptroller.

The vote was unanimous at a special meeting of the county legislature.

Smithtown Republicans have nominated the wife of the former GOP minority leader, Leslie Kennedy, who had served as one of her husband's legislative aides. Democrats have yet to nominate a candidate, but hope to do that Monday, said county Democratic chairman Rich Schaffer. Registered Republicans outnumber Democrats in the 12th District by 38 percent to 27 percent.

County officials said they need at least 63 days to fill a vacancy -- 18 days for the nominating process, and 45 days for absentee ballots to be sent out and mailed overseas.

"We have in the past done them quicker; we're not able to do that anymore" because of the overseas ballots, said Michael Pitcher, spokesman for Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville).The 12th Legislative District covers the southern part of Smithtown and a small portion of Brookhaven.

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