Congressional, State Senate debates going virtual this month

In this unusual year in which COVID-19 has turned life upside down, the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons, Shelter Island and North Fork has turned in-person debates between candidates into virtual events.

The organization has scheduled two online debates. The first will feature incumbent Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) and challenger Nancy Goroff (D-Stony Brook). Co-sponsors for that debate include the League of Women Voters of Brookhaven and the League of Women Voters of Smithtown.

The second involves candidates for the First Senatorial District: Laura Ahern (D-Port Jefferson) and Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk). They each seek to replace long-time state Senator Kenneth LaValle, who is retiring.

The congressional debate will be hosted Monday, Oct. 19, and the state Senate debate the following evening. They can be viewed live at 7 p.m. on SEA-TV’s YouTube channel.

They will also be offered to Channel 22 within a few days of the two debates, according to Arlene Hinkemeyer, League of Women Voters vice president.

Those who wish to submit questions for the candidates must do so by Saturday, Oct. 17, with the questions to be read by the moderator of the debates.

Mr. Zeldin has been representing the area in Congress since first elected in 2014. He previously served as a State Senator beginning in 2010. He holds a law degree and was in private practice following his military career, including service in Tikrit, Iraq with an infantry battalion. He still serves in the Army Reserve as a lieutenant colonel.

Ms. Goroff describes herself as a mom well versed in science. She was chair of the chemistry department at Stony Brook University where she taught for 23 years, prior to her run for Congress. She graduated from Harvard University with a degree in chemistry; earned a doctorate degree in organic chemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles; and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan.

As for the state Senate contenders, Mr. Palumbo, an attorney, has represented the 2nd Assembly District until opting to seek the state Senate seat. Ms. Ahearn is an attorney and executive director of the Crime Victims Center.