While incumbent Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman is a member of the Independence Party with the backing of the Democrats, and challenger Chris Nuzzi is a Republican with the Conservative Party’s support, both men purport to be the truly independent one, with a record of getting things done in a bipartisan fashion.
Schneiderman, of Montauk, is seeking his sixth and final two-year term in the Legislature; term limits prevent him from serving for more than 12 years. Nuzzi, a Southampton Town councilman who lives in Westhampton Beach, wants to become the next legislator for Suffolk’s Second District. Nuzzi is in his eighth year on the Town Council and is term limited from running again.
“I’m a former town supervisor of East Hampton and I’ve also been the legislator for the last 10 years,” Schneiderman said. “So I know the job quite well, and I have a record of achievement that’s quite long at this point.”
Schneiderman counts among his achievements his push for the widening of County Road 39—and subsequent widening of County Road 39A—easing traffic congestion on the South Fork. He saw to it that his district now has county buses that run on Sundays, and East End police departments get a greater share of county sales tax revenue. The homeless sex offender trailers in Riverside and Westhampton have been removed, his constituents have gone 10 years without an increase in county property taxes, and the Bridgehampton–Sag Harbor Turnpike, which is a county road, recently had a $1 million sidewalk project completed. And he said he recently passed legislation to compel Suffolk Vector Control to address the tick population and Lyme disease.
“I vote 100% with the district—with the needs of the community,” Schneiderman said.
He wishes to continue working on revitalizing the Riverside area, and to work on growing the county economy and dealing with county government’s financial trouble. “I want to be able to get the county through this challenging period,” he said. “We’re almost there.”
Schneiderman noted that if re-elected he would be the senior member of the majority caucus and his name is in the mix for the presiding officer of the Legislature.
Nuzzi said he has a record of accomplishment, in particular overseeing government finances. While he has been in town office, Southampton has reduced the tax levy, grown surpluses in all funds and had its bond rating affirmed, he said.
Nuzzi said his successes in Southampton are attributed to “being able to deal in a nonpartisan fashion with people, my ability to listen, and to understand that it’s the community’s concerns that we have to keep in mind.” He added, “It’s the community that often has the answers more so than the politician.”
He also pointed to green energy initiatives during his two terms, park projects, a septic upgrade rebate, more than 1,300 acres preserved and a quarter of a billion dollars expended by the Community Preservation Fund. He said he has led the charge on having Dune Road raised, a project for which he believes the town is close to receiving federal funding.
“Those who know me know that I’m principled and consistent,” Nuzzi said. “I recognize that most of the work in local government has nothing to do with politics.”
The county has dropped a number of issues that are still priorities for the East End, according to Nuzzi, namely groundwater and surface water quality, septic regulation and environmental and open space preservation. And while setting these issues aside, the county appears to be on the brink of a financial oversight board intervening, he said.
In addition to being a legislator, Schneiderman owns a Montauk motel, The Breakers. Nuzzi works in business development for Skyline Title Agency, a title insurance company.
Election Day is Tuesday, November 5. The Second Legislative District runs from East Moriches to Montauk. Check your registration and find your polling place at suffolkvotes.com.