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

06/14/13 8:00am
06/14/2013 8:00 AM
COURTESY PHOTO | John McManmon outside his family’s home in Aquebogue.

COURTESY PHOTO | John McManmon outside his family’s home in Aquebogue.

In politics, there is an old axiom about news coverage: It doesn’t matter what they say about you as long as they spell your name right.

Even so, I want to set the record straight. Last week, without bothering to call me for comment prior to publication, Times/Review executive editor Grant Parpan published an op-ed regarding my residency as a candidate for the New York State Assembly. It presented only half of the facts and a half-baked version of the law.

Here’s my side of the story.

I have been a resident of the North Fork since my family moved here and I was enrolled in kindergarten at St. John the Evangelist Grammar School in Riverhead. My first job was at Atlantis Marine World in Riverhead. I went to Riverhead Middle School and then Riverhead High School, where I played varsity baseball. I also represented Riverhead High School on News12’s Long Island Challenge quiz show.

After graduating from Riverhead High School, I went to Tulane University in New Orleans on an academic scholarship. When Hurricane Katrina struck, this very paper covered my experience. I returned to school in New Orleans. And I pitched in. I’m very proud of the disaster relief work I did in the years after the terrible storm. After I graduated from Tulane, I returned to my home, Riverhead. My next stop was Columbia Law School. When I graduated from Columbia, I returned to my home, Riverhead.

In 2011, I began a job at one of the country’s leading law firms, located in lower Manhattan. My practice there varies from representing some of the country’s best-known companies to, on a pro bono basis, being an advocate for families of children with autism. It’s a job infamous for 12- and 14-hour workdays and so, because it would be impossible to make a daily commute from my home, I spend weeknights at a modest apartment in Brooklyn.

I am now leaving my job to devote myself to our district and this campaign. I am doing so for several reasons. I think public service is a noble calling. I think politics should be a conversation about policy, and not a forum for personal invective. I want to do what I can to make sure that my community is a place where my friends and neighbors can find decent jobs, afford homes and build their lives.

Of course, I’m certain my political opponents don’t care about any of that. They have fixated on the apartment I maintain in Brooklyn. This is a red herring, but it appears Mr. Parpan has taken the bait. There is nothing wrong with someone maintaining a second residence, whether for convenience or necessity. If you know me well, you know that I am diligent and careful. I would not pursue this opportunity to serve unless I knew I was well within both the spirit and the letter of the law. Mr. Parpan and I may disagree about what the law should be, but he has no reason to suggest that I have been dishonest. My primary and legal residence has always been squarely in the middle of this Assembly District. It’s the center of my family life and social life. It’s the center of my political life. It always will be.

I’m running for New York State Assembly because my neighbors deserve a strong voice in Albany. If you’re considering my candidacy, I hope you won’t make the same mistake that Mr. Parpan did. If you still have questions about me or about my residency (or, heck, even about the very important issues facing the North Fork) please reach out to me at McManmonForAssembly@gmail.com. I’ll respond personally.

The author is the Democratic nominee for the 2nd Assembly District seat.

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

06/07/13 8:00am

COURTESY PHOTO | John McManmon outside his family’s home in Aquebogue.

The residency requirement to run for New York State Assembly is defined very briefly on the NYS Board of Elections website. In fact, the definition is only one sentence long.

It says: “You must be a resident of the state for five years and a resident of the district for 12 months immediately preceding the election.”

That one sentence is why I believe the Democratic nominee for the 2nd Assembly District special election should not be permitted to run for that office.

John McManmon does not dispute that he spends most nights in an apartment on Dean Street in Brooklyn, more than 90 minutes away from the district he wants to represent.

However, the 28-year-old attorney believes he is eligible — and many local Democrats agree — because his parents live here in Aquebogue. That’s the address on his driver’s license and he votes out here using that address.

He only stays in Brooklyn to ease the commute to his job at the Manhattan law firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCloy, his supporters argue. He visits home frequently, they say.

It’s my opinion that Mr. McManmon is a resident of Aquebogue on a technicality at best. In the true spirit of the seat, and in the best interests of the people who live here, he should not be running for this office at this time.

But area Democrats are acting as if nobody has a right to question this. They seem offended anyone would have a problem with a man who spends his nights in Brooklyn and his days in Manhattan representing the North Fork in Albany.

In one of the great foot-in-mouth quotes of the year, Riverhead Town Democratic Committee chairwoman Marge Acevedo said, “His job is in New York City and he travels back and forth. His residency should not be in question at all. There are no real jobs out here and people should take that into consideration.”

Now let’s dissect that spin:

• His residency should not be in question? At all? He freely admits he doesn’t live here.

• No real jobs? For lawyers? A Google search for “Attorney Riverhead,” one of the few American communities with more courthouses than McDonald’s restaurants, returned the maximum 25 pages of search results.

Speaking of questions, does Mr. McManmon pay New York City’s income tax on residents? If so, how can he be a resident both here and there?

It’s a particularly sad display that given several months to find a candidate in a special election for a seat that will be vacant for eight months before the newly elected takes office, Democrats couldn’t even settle on someone who actually lives here. As Democrats continue to control the majority in Albany’s lower house, basic logic says a local Democrat might be able to accomplish more than a Republican.

And the GOP nominee hasn’t exactly hit the ground running for the office. So far, all Anthony Palumbo of New Suffolk and party leaders have offered in the early stages of his campaign is a few sound bites on cleaning up corruption in Albany that sound like they were written by state Republican officials. It’s nice to think a local Republican could use his minority seat to clean up the capitol. It’s nice to think about unicorns and magical wizards, too.

Word on the street is that some unhappy Democrats might take legal action in an attempt to challenge Mr. McManmon’s candidacy. They should. His right to vote in Riverhead Town should be questioned as well. While they’re at it, how about looking into the city income tax he could avoid by using his parents’ address?

I live literally a few blocks outside of the 2nd Assembly District, less than 10 minutes from the house where my parents have lived for 35 years, which is inside the district. I work on the North Fork and spend more time here than anywhere else.

That said, I don’t feel I have the right to vote in this district, let alone run for office here. Neither should John McManmon.

 Grant Parpan is the executive editor for Times/Review Newsgroup. He can be reached at gparpan@timesreview.com or (631) 354-8046.

05/29/13 11:43am
05/29/2013 11:43 AM
McManmon of Aquebogue, NYC

COURTESY PHOTO | John McManmon outside his family’s home in Aquebogue.

It appears New York City attorney John McManmon has the support he needs to run for the state Assembly seat vacated by Republican Dan Losquadro last year.

Suffolk’s Democrats left the decision to the Brookhaven, Riverhead and Southold town committees and on Wednesday morning Mr. McManmon held a mathematically insurmountable lead for the Democratic nod.

The Southold committee is scheduled to hold its convention Wednesday evening, the last of the three to do so, but its numbers are not enough to change the outcome.

Other Democratic contenders included Cutchogue winery owner Jim Waters of Manorville, Rocky Point attorney Jennifer Maertz, East End Arts director Pat Snyder of Jamesport, Suffolk County Park Police officer Tom Schiliro of Manorville and Riverhead attorney Ron Hariri.

Suffolk’s Democrats gathered on May 20, but rather than select an Assembly candidate the party took the unusual step of putting the choice in the hands of the party committees within the 2nd Assembly District, which extends from north central Brookhaven east to Fishers Island.

Riverhead’s Democrats met first, holding their convention last Thursday night, and offering their support for Mr. McManmon. The voting was weighted based on the number of gubernatorial votes cast in each town in the last state elections.

The Riverhead committee gave 4,280 votes to Mr. McManmon. He picked up another 1,843.5 at the Brookhaven contention Tuesday night to give him a total of 6,123.5. Ms. Maertz received 2,196.5. Even if Southold gave all of its votes to Ms. Maertz, which appeared unlikely, she would still come in second to Mr. McManmon. None of the other candidates came close.

Although its votes won’t affect the outcome, Southold was expected to support Jim Waters, the owner of Waters Crest Winery and a Manorville resident.

“I think he’s extremely well qualified and we’re going to do all we can to support him,” said Art Tillman, Southold Democratic Committee leader.

Although it appears he’s receive the nomination, there’s been a backlash over Mr. McManmon’s candidacy based on his residency. Mr. McManmon, 28, works for a Manhattan law firm called Millbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCoy, and his address is listed as that of his parents in Aquebogue, although some have said he lives at an apartment on Dean Street in Brooklyn.

He said last Thursday that although he lives in Brooklyn during the week for work purposes, he still votes here.

Mr. McManmon’s father, James, is an attorney who works for OTB and who has made three unsuccessful runs at a state Assembly seat. His mother, Jeanne O’Rourke, is a deputy commissioner for the Board of Elections.

“If you check with the Board of Elections, John has been registered from his family address since he was 18,” said Riverhead Democratic Committee chairwoman Marge Acevedo. “His job is in New York City and he travels back and forth. His residency should not be in question at all. There are no real jobs out here and people should take that into consideration. Once everybody meets him they’ll know he was born and bred in Riverhead.”

Referring to the name of Riverhead School District athletic teams, she added, “He’s a Blue Waves kid.”

tkelly@timesreview.com