Local Politics: Schneiderman Looks Like a Lock for Re-Election

The political juggernaut that seems to be the career of Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) defies logical explanation. Plainly put, is he that good, is he that lucky, or both? When it looked like at last he might have a contested re-election campaign with Ship Heaney, the former Supervisor of Southampton (pre-Linda Kabot who retired him from that post via a Republican primary election), Heaney dropped out of the race after County Executive Steve Levy (not a Schneiderman ally) imploded.

I asked New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, a man who after 30 years of never losing an election on the East End seems to know how to read the local political winds, what his prediction on Jay’s re-election was. Thiele said exclusively,  “Jay’s opponent is a guy by the name of Cornelius Kelly from Westhampton Beach…he is the brother of the Village Justice in Westhampton Beach. [Kelly] is a virtual unknown. Early on, he seems to be actively campaigning…but according to county sources in both parties…this is not a targeted race. My sense of it is that Kelly may run a spirited campaign…but Jay, because he is a well-known incumbent, will be a heavy favorite for re-election.” [expand]

Schneiderman himself has started a spirited re-election campaign via Facebook. He has already held a few fundraising events to prepare to meet Cornelius Kelly’s best efforts. The Southampton Democratic Party has already endorsed Schneiderman, who during the last of the Bush years left the Republican Party after what he described as “soul searching.” He did not want to be identified with the runaway train of extremism the national Republican Party was showing signs of warping into. This is a prime example of his “maverick” political tendencies that render him a true independent. A trait not uncommon in Montauk, where hard work and acting independently is the mantra.

So how could one write about Jay Schneiderman and not mention his success just recently, spearheading seven-day  Suffolk County bus service? The pilot program is the product of legislation sponsored by Suffolk County Legislator Schneiderman and co-sponsored by Legislator Edward Romaine (R-Center Moriches), and approved by the County Legislature. The new legislation will impact the S92 and 10C lines. The S92 bus line runs from Orient Point to East Hampton, making stops in Riverhead, Flanders, Hampton Bays, Southampton Village, Water Mill, and Sag Harbor. The 10C line connects East Hampton riders to the S92 route, stopping in Montauk, Amagansett and East Hampton. The fee is $2.00 and the buses run from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It may be noted that Schneiderman’s efforts on this issue included an ongoing assault of hearings and public meetings that overcame Steve Levy’s opposition (Levy had vetoed a previous attempt).

There is no doubt that Schneiderman represents his district with zest and zeal. Almost every political event I cover he seems to attend, sometimes arriving late, sometimes bringing his children along, but always seeming to have at the very least some brief comments about what he is up to and why. For example, he has been all over the issue of re-addressing the disparity of county aid to the various Town police forces on the East End, an issue that put Schneiderman and Levy at political odds.

Jay also loves music and shows up with his band at many venues in the district, playing the drums. Not everybody loves him, but almost everybody has met him, seen him, and knows he is out there representing, in his words to me years back, “a common sense approach” to solving political and social problems on the county level. When you see a Suffolk County bus running on Sunday, see that as a symbol of Jay Schneiderman staying on an issue until he gets the results he believes his constituents merit. He is unique, he is an original, and he is once again up for re-election come this November. I, along with Fred Thiele, believe he will win, again. [/expand]

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