07/12/13 5:00pm
07/12/2013 5:00 PM

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Jennifer Maertz says she won’t run for Assembly this year, but plans to seek a state legislative seat in 2014.

There will be no Democratic primary in the fall to determine who will face Republican Tony Palumbo in the race to fill the North Fork’s vacant State Assembly seat.

Rocky Point attorney Jennifer Maertz, who after failing to receive the Democratic nomination that instead went to John McManmon, an Aquebogue attorney, had vowed to force a primary. But on Friday Ms. Maertz announced that she instead has her sights set on running for either State Senate or Assembly in 2014.

She said she did not submit the required nominating petitions to the Suffolk County Board of Elections by the July 11 deadline because she expected a challenge to her petitions from the McManmon camp. Mr. McManmon is the son of deputy Democratic Board of Elections commissioner Jeanne O’Rourke.

Ms. Maertz said she raised what she believes is a conflict of interest, but neither the state nor the county BOE took the matter further.

“It’s not worth the time and expense of litigation, particularly where there are conflict of interest issues that have not been addressed,” she said.

It’s unclear whether Ms. Maertz, who in challenging the leadership’s choice, could have filed the requisite 500 petition signatures in time. Southold Democratic chairman Art Tillman said his committee gathered 230 signatures for Mr. McManmon, but only 26 for Ms. Maertz.

Mr. McManmon called Ms. Maertz’s decision to drop out “really great news for our campaign. It allows us to move on and concentrate on the general election.”

He and Mr. Palumbo, a New Suffolk attorney, are seeking to serve out months remaining term of former Assemblyman Dan Losquadro, who left the office in March following his victory in a special election for Brookhaven town highway superintendent. A third candidate, Joan Sele of Rocky Point, filed petitions this week to run on the Independence line, according to the Suffolk County Board of Elections.

tkelly@timesreview.com

06/07/13 3:11pm
06/07/2013 3:11 PM

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Assembly hopeful Jennifer Maertz addresses the Southold Democratic Party during its May 29 convention.

Rocky Point attorney Jennifer Maertz will try to accomplish through a primary what she couldn’t do through political conventions, namely gain the Democratic Party’s nomination in this year’s special State Assembly election.

The party’s official choice is Manhattan attorney John McManmon, who lives in Brooklyn but uses his parent’s Aquebogue home as his permanent address.

“Maybe it’s a get-your-feet-wet or get-name-recognition race,” said Ms. Maertz. “I’d hate to see this become a throwaway race, which it appears to be.”

Rather than have the county leadership make the choice, the party took the unusual route of leaving the nomination to the three local committees. For the 2nd Assembly District, that’s the organizations in Brookhaven, Riverhead and Southold. Mr. McManmon finished first with Ms. Maertz second.

The Republican candidate is New Suffolk attorney Tony Palumbo.

The winner will fill what’s left of the unexpired term of former Assemblyman Dan Losquadro, who won a special election earlier this year to become Brookhaven highway superintendent.

Ms. Maertz argues that she has far more government experience than the 28-year-old Mr. McManmon.

In the political arena, she ran unsuccessfully for a state Senate seat against Republican incumbent Kenneth LaValle in 2010. She replaced Regina Calcaterra of New Suffolk in that race after Ms. Calcaterra was disqualified for failing to meet the residency requirement.

Last year Ms. Maertz again ran for the state Senate, but lost a Democratic primary to Southampton Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, who then lost to Mr. LaValle.

Mr. McManmon does not concede the experience question.

“I’m younger than most people seeking public office, but I am extremely well qualified, have deep roots in the community and an absolutely the right person for the job.

He also argues that the residency question is a non-issue.

“Once people understand the facts they’ll know that I’m well within the spirit of the law,” he said. The attorney also rejects the idea that he’s waging a throwaway race.

“I am 100 percent committed to winning,” he said. “I wouldn’t be in it if I didn’t think I could win.”

tkelly@timesreview.com

09/13/12 9:45pm
09/13/2012 9:45 PM

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Bridget Fleming (right) will oppose Senator Ken LaValle in a November election.

Southamptown Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming won in a landslide over Jennifer Maertz of Rocky Point in a Democratic primary to face Senator Ken LaValle in November, unofficial results from the Suffolk County Board of Elections indicate.

Ms. Fleming, 52, of Sag Harbor received 79 percent of the votes  Thursday with 2,031 cast in her favor to Ms. Maertz’s 531.

Ms. Fleming was an assistant district attorney in New York City, where she prosecuted sex crimes and headed a unit that prosecuted fraud in public programs. She was elected to fill a vacant seat on the Southampton Town Council in 2010, and won a full four-year term last year.

Ms. Maertz, 36, is an attorney from Rocky Point, and lost to 36-year incumbent Mr. LaValle two years ago when she stepped in after candidate Regina Calcaterra was taken off the ballot due to a residency issue.

During a debate last month, both Ms. Maertz and Ms. Fleming criticized Mr. LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) as a “part of the culture in Albany” that has not sought more tax allocations for the East End from around the state.

Both candidates said they support same-sex marriage and argued that changes needed to be made to the 2 percent tax levy cap passed by the state last year.

They differed on the important of campaign financing, with Ms. Fleming saying she stood the best shot of beating Mr. LaValle due to her leftover campaign funds, while Ms. Maertz said voters should choose based on a candidate’s positions, not the size of their warchest.

08/31/12 8:00am
08/31/2012 8:00 AM

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Jennifer Maertz (left) and Bridget Fleming are squaring off in a Democratic primary for the opportunity to oppose Senator Ken LaValle.

Over the years, the list of Democratic opponents against longtime incumbent state Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) reads like a “Who’s Who” of candidates nobody remembers.

Some of them were on the ballot, but went the entire campaign without making much noise on the campaign front.

This year, there’s a Sept. 13 primary between two Democratic candidates who are seeking to take on the 36-year incumbent.

Jennifer Maertz, 36, an attorney from Rocky Point, lost against Mr. LaValle two years ago as a last-minute replacement for Regina Calcaterra, who was knocked off the ballot on a residency issue.

Now Ms. Maertz will square off against Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, 52, of Sag Harbor. Ms. Fleming was elected to fill the remaining year of a vacated council term in 2010 and then was elected to a full four-year term in 2011. Prior to that, she was an assistant district attorney in New York City, where she prosecuted sex crimes and headed a unit that prosecuted fraud in public programs.

The two squared off in a forum sponsored Wednesday night by the Southampton League of Women Voters in the Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton.

Both candidates took their shots at the incumbent, who was not present.

“The incumbent senator has been in office for 36 years,” Ms. Fleming said of Mr. LaValle, 73. “He’s become over these many years a part of the culture in Albany, more responsive to special interests than to the immediate needs of the people in the first district.  He has overseen steady tuition hikes and failed to protect our economy while moving to raise his own salary.”

“We send more tax dollars upstate than we get in return,” Ms. Maertz said. “And upstate, the opposite is true. And this has been going on a very long time and our state senator has done nothing about it and has not changed this. Do you want to know why? Because the Republican party has its power base in upstate New York and he has to go along with the party.”

The two candidates agreed on a number of the issues raised by audience questions in Wednesday’s forum, such as the need to fully repeal the MTA payroll tax, support for same-sex marriage, and support for a Shinnecock casino, but not on the East End.

One area they differed was on campaign funding. While both supported public financing of campaigns, Ms. Fleming said one of the reasons to vote for her and not Ms. Maertz was that she has raised far more money and would have a better chance in November against Mr. LaValle because of that.

According to the most recent campaign disclosure forms on file, Ms. Fleming’s campaign had raised $44,020 at the end of August and had $56,802 left, while Ms. Maertz hadn’t raised anything in the most recent filing period and had a total of $3,206 remaining.

“It’s one of the reasons I think you should chose me on Sept. 13,” Ms. Fleming said. “In order to be viable, you’ve got to be able to raise money. It’s such a shame, but our opponent, Ken LaValle, has gotten $76,000 from Albany PACs (Political Action Committees). These are the business council for the industry PAC that write checks to (Senate Majority Leader Dean) Skelos, a check to (State Senator John) Flanagan, a check to LaValle. They come out for the incumbents because that’s the way things operate.

“And that’s got to change. We don’t have a level playing field and we turn into to a government where we have incumbents who are in office for decades and who have lost touch with their constituents.”

Mr. LaValle’s latest campaign disclosure forms show he had raised $198,591 in the most recent filing period and had $252,590 remaining in his campaign war chest.

“I agree with you on public financing of campaigns but I disagree that funding should be the number one reason you should be choosing a candidate,” Ms. Maertz responded. “If that were true, then neither one of us should be here because neither one of us is going to outspend Ken LaValle this year. I believe the voters of this district are more sophisticated than that. I believe that with today’s technology you can get the word out about these elections online and by old fashioned door-to-door campaigning and talking to voters. Voters are not going to be looking at how much money you have in the bank, they’re going to be looking at your viewpoints on the issues, your dedication to serving,  and your follow through with your commitments, and your interest in serving the people.”

Another slight disagreement came during a discussion on same-sex marriage. Both candidates said they supported same sex marriage, and both were critical of Mr. LaValle’s vote against the issue, in which he said the people of the district were “not ready” for it.

Ms. Maertz said polls showed the people of the district overwhelmingly supported same-sex marriage. But she added, “while legislatures must answer to their constituents, when it comes to civil rights issues, I don’t care what the constituents say. It’s a matter of civil rights. You cannot impose segregation, for instance, because you feel the polls are in favor of it.”

Ms. Fleming responded, “Having served as an elected official now and having been reelected for a second term, I do care what the constituents say. I support marriage equality unquestionably, but I do care what constituents say. Sometimes you have to adjust and be sure that you’re serving the community you’re serving.”

Ms. Maertz said that on civil rights issues, “I don’t care if 70 percent of the people were against it,” she’d still vote in favor.

On the issue of the state’s 2 percent tax cap, both candidates felt changes were needed.

Ms. Maertz feels there should be more exemptions to give schools and governments more leeway, and Ms. Fleming said Southampton Town had to eliminate some needed services to comply with the cap. Both candidates felt there should be more relief from state and federal mandates, if there’s going to be a tax cap.

The date of the primary, Sept. 13, falls on a Thursday.

tgannon@timesreview.com