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GOP picks Shelter Island Town Attorney Kiely to run for Assembly

Shelter Island Town Attorney Stephen Kiely will carry the Republican Party endorsement into the November election for the open State Assembly seat long-held by Fred Thiele Jr. (D-Sag Harbor).

Mr. Kiely received the party’s endorsement at its Feb. 21 convention.

He said there were two other candidates who screened for the endorsement, declining to name them, concerned they might not want to be identified. Republican Town Chairman Gary Blados described the two as a person from Southampton basically unknown in political circles and a woman who has been active in campaigns for many Republican candidates.

Mr. Kiely said if he’s fortunate enough to be elected, he would step down as town attorney since there would be too many conflicts in terms of time commitments to do both jobs. He joked that those Islanders who have been critical of him during the previous administration might vote for him for the Assembly seat, preferring to have a different town attorney.

“I’m tailor made for this position,” Mr. Kiely said about his candidacy. He has strong relationships to Shelter Island and both the North and South forks the district encompasses.

A resident of Mattituck, he spent summers in Sag Harbor with his grandmother when he was growing up.

Mr. Kiley spent three years as a deputy county clerk for Suffolk County.

Besides serving Shelter Island as a town attorney, he served Southampton, Southold and Brookhaven as an assistant town attorney.

In 2016, he left the Southold position to focus on his private practice.

This will be his fourth excursion into elective politics. In 2018, he ran for Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice and lost that race. In 2019, he gathered enough signatures to challenge Scott Russell for Southold Town Supervisor, but ended up pulling out of the race, though maintaining he could have won had he persisted in trying to wrest the nomination.

Last year, he sought election as a Southold Town Board member but the nods for two open seats went to incumbent Jill Dougherty and Democrat Anne Smith who benefited from her popularity with the school community, having long served as principal of the Cutchogue Elementary School and then superintendent of the Mattituck-Cutchogue School District.

Southampton Town Board member Tommy John Schiavoni has announced his candidacy for Assembly District 1 on the Democratic ticket. The Suffolk County Democratic Party opened petitioning for signatures as of Feb. 27. Petitions must be filed by April 4 and if there’s more than a single candidate seeking election to a post, the party will hold a primary on June 25.

Mr. Kiley said his campaign will concentrate on the same issues he supported in his unsuccessful Southold race — protection of the environment and working on the interests of the small towns that comprise the district.