Just weeks after State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle announced he was not seeking reelection to his post, after serving the 1st District of New York for 44 years, Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo, a Republican like Mr. LaValle, has thrown his name into the mix as a candidate for the seat.
Mr. Palumbo, 49, of New Suffolk currently serves the 2nd District in the Assembly, covering portions of Brookhaven Town as well as the towns of Riverhead and Southold — encompassing the entire North Fork.
He was first elected to serve as an assemblyman in 2013, and is currently serving in his second term.
If elected to the State Senate, Mr. Palumbo will represent the entire East End of Long Island and portions of Brookhaven Town.
“I’ll have a louder voice, so to speak, in the Senate,” he said on Tuesday. “I think I can make a bigger impact and try to keep our priorities straight regarding our way of life on the East End of Long Island.”
Since his election to the Assembly in 2013, Mr. Palumbo has taken on issues such as the expansion of the Community Preservation Fund to include water quality, along with the extension of the fund through 2050 — both projects he worked on with Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and Mr. LaValle.
“Ken has been a tremendous mentor for me — he will sorely be missed,” said Mr. Palumbo, adding that he, Mr. LaValle and Mr. Thiele have had a good working relationship.
Mr. Palumbo made public his candidacy for State Senate last week, after speaking with his family and Suffolk County Republican Chairman Jesse Garcia.
Although Mr. Palumbo is not aware of any other Republicans running for the seat, he knows of plenty who were interested in campaigning. “I know Republican Chairman Garcia has said I’m the committee’s choice at this point,” he said. “From my understanding, essentially, we’re going to run me.”
Mr. Garcia did not return multiple calls this week seeking comment on Mr. Palumbo’s candidacy.
If elected, Mr. Palumbo said, he wants to focus on education, taxes and the environment, but most especially on public safety.
As a former Suffolk County prosecutor, he said the “disastrous” bail and discovery reform bills — both part of the criminal justice reform law that went into effect on January 1 and eliminated bail for all but a handful of violent felonies and sex crimes, while also requiring police departments to submit all evidence leading to a conviction within 15 days of an arraignment — have imposed tremendous mandates on the criminal justice system.
“There was no money appropriated with regard to assisting our local law enforcement agencies and district attorney offices, in addition to the fact that I think it’s just generally unsafe as a result of these reforms,” Mr. Palumbo said. “The immediate crisis is this bail reform, and that needs to be addressed right away.”
Although Mr. Palumbo anticipates getting the nod, the Republican Committee is expected to screen candidates this week. Petitions will then begin circulating from the last week of February through the first week of April.
Democratic Party Chairman Richard Schaffer said the Democratic Committee does not plan to take a position on any of the four candidates running for Mr. LaValle’s seat.
So far, those who plan to seek the Democratic Party nomination are: Skyler Johnson, a 19-year-old Mount Sinai resident; Southampton Town Board member Tommy John Schiavoni; Brookhaven Town Council member Valerie Cartwright; and Laura Ahearn, the executive director of Parents for Megan’s Law and the Crime Victims Center.
Mr. Schaffer said a primary to decide which candidate will appear on the ballot in November will be held on June 23.