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Apr 30, 2014 8:13 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

County Legislator Jay Schneiderman Considers Run For County Comptroller

May 6, 2014 3:51 PM

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman acknowledged last week that he may run for county comptroller.

Last Wednesday, he said his final two-year term is ending next year, thanks to term limits, and he’s looking to remain in county government. Although he said he hasn’t officially announced his candidacy, he said his experience with budgeting and financial management is perfect for the comptroller position.

“I think it is a good fit for me,” he said at an interview at the Clam and Chowder House in Montauk. He had just finished a roundtable discussion with County Executive Steve Bellone and others about issues within the fishing industry.

“The public is looking for somebody with the ability to audit and conduct investigations, somebody who is competent and fair-minded, who won’t abuse their position,” he said. “As an Independent, people have recognized that I work across party lines. What we don’t need in this position is somebody who puts politics ahead of the fiduciary responsibility that the comptroller has.”

Mr. Schneiderman said that he would likely seek the Democratic Party endorsement if he were to run, saying that he would need a major party for support.

Suffolk County Democratic Party Chairman Rich Schaffer did not return calls for comment, but Mr. Schneiderman said he would be speaking with him in the near future about running.

James Gaughran, the chairman of the Suffolk County Water Authority Board and former county legislator, announced his candidacy for the comptroller’s position as a Democrat on Thursday, May 1. Mr. Gaughran, who lives in Northport, said on Friday that his experience, 30 years as an attorney and 30 years as a public official, make him the best candidate for the job.

“This is an opportunity to really give a fresh perspective to the county’s finances and what can be done to help lift us out of the financial crises that we continue to be in,” Mr. Gaughran said.

He said he became a “fiscal watchdog” during his time as a Huntington Town council member back when he was only 26, and even into his venture into the County Legislature, where he served for six years. He has served as the Suffolk County Water Authority Board chairman for the last four years, making $32,000 a year.

Mr. Schneiderman said he’s spoken with Mr. Gaughran but he thinks he’d be the stronger candidate.

“Not only am I a former East Hampton Town supervisor, this is my 11th year as county legislator,” he said. “Formerly, I was a math and science teacher and involved in business management for more than a decade.”

He added that although he is known for being an East End resident—he lives in Montauk—he wants everyone to know that he’s spent his life in Suffolk County and knows the issues across the area.

“Throughout the county, a significant amount of people know my name and the things I’ve fought for but everybody out here sees me as an East End person,” he said. “I’ve certainly always cared about the whole county. I’ve actually had a lot of regional initiatives that have brought attention, including my puppy mill law and the consumer protection work I’m trying to do with gasoline retailers.”

Mr. Schneiderman said he has spent his life in Suffolk County, adding that in his childhood, he was always going back and forth from Hauppauge to Montauk and now in his adulthood he goes back and forth from Montauk to Hauppauge, where he graduated from high school.

Mr. Schneiderman said it seems that he has Mr. Bellone’s support in running for comptroller if he chooses to do so. “It’s great to have a friend like that,” he said.

Currently Joseph Sawicki Jr., a Republican, serves as comptroller but his term will expire at the end of next year. He is on his third four-year term. Last year, Mr. Sawicki was paid $184,000. Mr. Schneiderman was paid $95,000 in 2013.

But another Republican is eying the position: Suffolk County Republican Party Chairman John Jay LaValle.

Although he had not officially announced his candidacy as of early this week, he said he is “very seriously considering it,” but has to make sure it works from his family’s perspective.

Mr. LaValle has been the GOP chairman for more than four years and said that it has been a struggle winning back seats.

“The Republican Party lost everything,” he said on Friday. “But we’re chipping away at it, taking everything back. There are now 20 seats that are filled by Republicans that weren’t.”

Mr. LaValle made $82,000 last year.

Before his position as chairman, he served as the supervisor of Brookhaven Town from 2001 to 2005. In that position, he said he oversaw the town’s budget, cut taxes and worked with the District Attorney’s office to clean up corruption.

“I’m the only one considering running that has been in any position to the comptroller,” he said. “Brookhaven Town had the highest bond rating in Suffolk County, but tied with East Hampton.”

Mr. Schneiderman said he too has had a history of keeping taxes low and the budget intact while serving as East Hampton Town Supervisor.

“In those four years, I never increased the property taxes for the town,” he said. “Then I went up to the county for the next 10 years, and since then it’s been 14 years in a row without raising taxes. I don’t know anybody in government that has a better record of not raising taxes. I hope this shows that I know what I’m doing.”

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Good fit or convenient alternative?
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Apr 30, 14 10:14 PM
How would "convenient" be appropriate?

Perhaps you should avoid snark 'til the time is right.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on May 1, 14 2:47 AM
1 member liked this comment
Frank, how is my question inappropriate exactly?
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on May 1, 14 2:25 PM
Time to go get a real job Jay and stop sponging off the public.
By Preliator Lives (437), Obamavillie on May 1, 14 12:36 PM
No way he would commute from Montauk to Hauppauge on a daily basis.
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on May 1, 14 4:50 PM
Jay - Would you consider running for Bishops seat??? Think about it.
By bird (829), Southampton on May 1, 14 4:58 PM
Heck no!
By Preliator Lives (437), Obamavillie on May 2, 14 6:50 AM
"Big Government" isn't our real problem. Systemic corruption is.

Our government is less broken, than it is bought and paid for.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on May 2, 14 9:11 AM
No matter what you political cup of tea: bought, broken, corrupt, too big, too small, what ever; it is not working for the people any more, none of it.
By Preliator Lives (437), Obamavillie on May 2, 14 12:16 PM
2 members liked this comment
It's a start:

Vermont Calls to Take Money out of Politics

Steph Machado
05/02/2014 07:29 PM

MONTPELIER - The Vermont Legislature became the first to pass a resolution calling for a Constitutional Convention to change the country's campaign finance laws.

The effort is focused around overturning Citizen's United, a 2010 decision that equated money with free speech, allowing for an influx of money into political campaigns.

A more recent decision, known ...more
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on May 3, 14 4:42 PM