Southampton Town Board member Tommy John Schiavoni announced his candidacy for the State Senate on Friday, saying he will seek the Democratic nomination to unseat incumbant Republican Senator Kenneth P. LaValle in 2020.
Mr. Schiavoni, a member of the Democratic Party, was elected to his first four-year term on the Town Board in 2017 after working as a teacher in the Center Moriches School District for 30 years.
“It was time for me to make this run,” he said on Tuesday. “I did speak to the Democratic Party ahead of time, and let them know that I was going to be seeking the nomination. They encourage people to do these things. If you are a good candidate and are willing to put yourself out there to the people like this, they encourage me to do this.”
Born and raised on the East End, Mr. Schiavoni said he wants to share his knowledge of economic, public health and environmental issues that affect eastern Suffolk County, in Albany.
“The environment is precious and intertwined with the day-to-day lives of all of us here,” Mr. Schiavoni said in a press release over the weekend. “Our health, small businesses, land values and peace of mind depend on clean water, tended green spaces and beaches, and a comprehensive approach to eliminating tick-borne illnesses. We need to reallocate funds for the Clean Water Infrastructure Act while helping municipalities keep taxes low and housing affordable.”
He added that the number one thing he wants to enable is the establishment of sewer districts that will benefit the health of residents and waterways.
Mr. Schiavoni also said it is important to have an educator representing other educators in Albany. In addition to teaching in Center Moriches, he was a member of the Sag Harbor Board of Education.
“One-third of the state budget is spent on education,” he said. “I’ve lobbied in Albany as a school board member and a teacher, so I definitely have seen Albany as an important place for so many things, especially for education.”
Mr. LaValle, who was first elected to the Senate in 1976, currently serves the 1st District — the seat Mr. Schiavoni is seeking. On Tuesday, Mr. LaValle confirmed he will seek reelection in November.
In addition to Mr. Schiavoni, others who have announced plans to seek the Democratic Party nomination are: Laura Ahearn, an attorney who founded the Crime Victims Center and serves as the director of the Ronkonkoma-based Parents for Megan’s Law; Greg Fischer, who recently ran for Suffolk County executive with the Libertarian Party nomination; and 19-year-old Skyler Johnson of Mount Sinai.
“It’s a democracy,” Mr. Schiavoni said. “I believe in contested elections. I think it’s important for our system to have contested elections so that candidates have to go out and go to the people and justify their positions.
“I want Senate District 1 to be back in the majority — the Senate majority has switched, and it is very important to have representation in that majority,” he said, referencing the recent Democratic majority in the Senate. “It’s equally important to have a critical mass of elected representatives from the suburban areas from Long Island working together in that majority to bring the necessary resources and dollars back to the district from Albany,” he added.