Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman announced Tuesday that he will seek the Democratic nod to run for Suffolk County comptroller, a position currently held by Republican John Kennedy, who, like Mr. Schneiderman, is a former Suffolk County legislator.
The comptroller seat is up for re-election this fall. Mr. Schneiderman’s position as supervisor isn’t up for re-election until November 2019, so he would not have to give up his current job to run for comptroller.
He said Tuesday that he would not step down as supervisor if he runs for comptroller but that, if elected, he will resign with a year remaining on his term. In that event, deputy supervisor Frank Zappone will succeed him until an election is held. Mr. Schneiderman added that he considers winning the election against Mr. Kennedy “a long shot.”
“This is an unprecedented time in the history of Suffolk County,” Mr. Schneiderman said in a press release. “Our finances are in critical condition and Suffolk County residents need a comptroller who will help get the county back to fiscal health.”
A Southampton resident who previously lived in Montauk, Mr. Schneiderman said he would bring a “unique perspective” to the comptroller’s office, having served as Southampton Town supervisor since 2016, East Hampton Town supervisor from 2000 to 2003 and on the Suffolk County Legislature from 2004 to 2013. During his last year there, he also served as the legislature’s deputy presiding officer.
Mr. Kennedy, a Republican from Nesconset, was elected comptroller in 2014, replacing longtime Republican comptroller Joe Sawicki of Southold. Before that, he served in the county Legislature for 10 years, representing the 12th district. Mr. Kennedy’s wife, Leslie, has held that position since.
The comptroller is in charge of auditing county departments and nonprofit agencies that are funded by the county. The comptroller is also the county’s chief borrowing authority, among other things.
Mr. Schneiderman graduated from Hauppauge High School, earned a Bachelor of Arts in chemistry from Ithaca College and then obtained a Master of Arts degree in education from SUNY/Cortland.
He has taught science and mathematics in East End schools, managed his family’s hotel business in Montauk and formed a resort management company.
Mr. Kennedy was the Official Examiner of the Title for the county clerk’s office for eight years before becoming a legislator and has over 38 years’ experience with county and state government.
He has a master’s from Adelphi University and a law degree from St. John’s University School of Law.
County Democrats plan to collect petitions for candidates but won’t have a convention, according to Democratic chairman Richard Schaefer, who said Mr. Schneiderman is the only person seeking to run for comptroller thus far.