Schneiderman May Seek County Post

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman. Michael Heller photo

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, who was just reelected, said this week he is seriously considering a run for Suffolk County comptroller in November.

“I’m definitely looking at it,” he said on Tuesday, adding that he expected to make a formal announcement sometime in March. “It’s a prestigious job.”

Mr. Schneiderman, who changed his party affiliation from the Independence Party to the Democratic Party just last fall, said he had considered challenging incumbent John Kennedy, a Republican, four years ago but was passed over by Democratic officials, who instead backed James Gaughran, the chairman of the Suffolk County Water Authority.

After serving as both East Hampton and Southampton supervisor as well as 12 years as a county legislator, Mr. Schneiderman said he believed he was well qualified for the county position. “I’m one of only a handful of people who understand the county budget,” he said, adding that he is “a numbers guy.”

Mr. Schneiderman said he knew considering the jump to county office would result in criticism that he is a career politician, but he said he saw it as an opportunity to serve both the East End as well as all of Suffolk County, which has a population of about 1.5 million people.

“I love my job as supervisor, but an opportunity like this doesn’t come along every day,” he said. “People criticize me for different things all the time. If someone wants to fault me for considering an opportunity like this, that’s fine.”

Mr. Schneiderman said he was proud that as an elected official he had never once raised property taxes, but he said the county has “structural problems with its budget that have been papered over with all kinds of budgetary tricks.”

“You have to have someone in that position to make sure things are done right,” he added.

The comptroller’s position pays more than $200,000 a year. Mr. Schneiderman is currently paid $117,000 as supervisor. If. Mr. Schneiderman were to run and lose, he would still be able to return to the supervisor’s job for another year.