11/07/12 1:35am

JOHN GRIFFIN PHOTO | Congressman Tim Bishop gives his victory speech at Suffolk County Democratic Committee Headquarters at the Islandia Marriott Tuesday.

Congressman Tim Bishop is headed back to Washington for a sixth term.

Two years after it took 36 days for the Southampton Democrat to claim victory over opponent Randy Altschuler, it took him less than three hours to deliver an acceptance speech Tuesday.

“My opponent may have had the guys with the big checks,” Mr. Bishop told supporters at the Islanda Marriott. “I had the guys with the big hearts.”

Mr. Bishop secured 132,525 votes to 121,478 for Mr. Altschuler, a Republican businessman from St. James.

The Congressman, who garnered 52 percent of the vote Tuesday, had defeated Mr. Altschuler by just 593 votes in 2010.

Mr. Bishop, who was also celebrating President Barack Obama’s reelection Tuesday night, will still be in the minority next year as Republicans kept control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“We’ve got serious problems to solve in this country and I very much hope now that a very, very brutal election season is behind us, we’ll set partisan differences aside and try to resolve issues for the American people,” Mr. Bishop said. “The dysfunction over the last two years certainly demonstrates that hyper-partisanship doesn’t work. We’ve tried that, we’ve now had an election, the president was reelected, so now let’s go to work to support the American people and businesses.”

Mr. Altschuler said thanked his supporters and credited his opponent in a concession speech delivered at Emporium in Patchogue shortly after midnight.

“I’m going to go home and spend time with my family and help the community,” said Mr. Altschuler, 41. “Congressman Bishop ran a good campaign.”

Mr. Bishop was one of several area incumbents to claim a win Tuesday, with Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) winning reelection with landslide victories.

Mr. LaValle, 73, is now, along with Schenectady Republican Hugh Farley, the longest tenured New York State Senator. Both men were first elected in 1976. Senator Owen Johnson, also from Suffolk, did not seek reelection this year after serving since 1972.

Mr. LaValle secured 60 percent of the vote Tuesday over Southampton Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, a Democrat from Sag Harbor.

Mr. Thiele, 59, ran unopposed. He has held a seat in the Assembly since 1995 and will represent Shelter Island beginning next year.

Reporting from Jennifer Gustavson and Michael White

11/06/12 6:13pm

We’ll be live blogging Election Day results all night tonight. We’ll also have reporters with Congressman Tim Bishop and Republican challenger Randy Altschuler.

Follow along with the results, watch live streaming video of the speeches and to share your own election night thoughts and opinions.

We’ll also have reaction from Senator Ken LaValle, Assemblyman Dan Losquadro and County Legislator Ed Romaine, who’s running in a special election for Brookhaven Town Supervisor.

Additionally, we’ll have reporters keeping tabs on town elections in both Riverhead and Southold.

Tonight’s blog will be sponsored by Blackwells at Great Rock in Wading River and Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor.

11/06/12 5:00am

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Congressman Tim Bishop (left) and Republican Challenger Randy Altschuler at a Riverhead debate in September.

First Congressional District

Tim Bishop (D-Southampton)

Five-term incumbent Tim Bishop, 62, worked at Southampton College for 29 years, starting as an admissions counselor and serving for many years as provost, the chief administrative post. He left the college when first elected to Congress in 2002, defeating incumbent Republican Felix Grucci.

Mr. Bishop says if re-elected his legislative priorities will include job creation and economic expansion, protecting the environment, working for seniors and the middle class, providing access to affordable health care and supporting veterans.

A twelfth-generation Southampton resident, Mr. Bishop received his bachelor’s degree from The College of the Holy Cross and his master’s from Long Island University.

He serves on the Committee on Education, the Workforce and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and the Congressional Arts Caucus.

Mr. Bishop voted for the Affordable Health Care for America Act, commonly known as Obamacare, and the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, and his voting record reflects that he votes with the majority of House Democrats on almost every key issue.

Randy Altschuler (R-St. James)

Randy Altschuler, 41, is currently the executive chairman of CloudBlue, which recycles electronic equipment. Prior to that, he was the CEO of OfficeTiger, a company that provided office support services with employees around the world.

Mr. Altschuler ran for Mr. Bishop’s congressional seat in 2010, losing by 263 votes after an intense recount that proved to be the longest in the nation that year.

Mr. Altschuler attended New York City public schools, received his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, studied abroad as a Fulbright Scholar and received his MBA from Harvard University.

If elected, Mr. Altschuler pledges to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, work for the Republican plan for Medicare and Social Security reform, reform teacher tenure requirements and support school voucher programs.

First New York Senatorial District

Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson)

Incumbent Ken LaValle, 73, has held the 1st District state Senate seat since 1977, having been elected in November 1976. He has been chairman of the Senate committee on higher education since 1979 and is chairman of the Senate Majority Conference. He was a teacher before entering politics. Since he’s been in office, he earned a law degree from Touro College and is now a practicing attorney as well.

Mr. LaValle said he continues to receive support from his constituents, which is why he has won his re-election bids by overwhelming margins.

He says he’s working to get approval for the commission that Riverhead Town has advocated as a way of fast-tracking projects at EPCAL and, among other things, has been instrumental in establishing the Stony Brook Business Incubator in Calverton; has secured grant money for the J. Kings food processing facility in Baiting Hollow; and has helped to create a synergy among the three East End hospitals.

Mr. LaValle also lauds the 2 percent government tax levy cap.

“We’ve also reduced taxes for every tax category, with the majority of it going to the middle-income taxpayers,” he said.

Republicans currently have a majority in the state Senate, while Democrats control the Assembly.

Mr. LaValle is the father of two grown children and lives in Port Jefferson with his wife, Penny.

Bridget Fleming (D-Noyack)

Challenger Bridget Fleming, 52, is a matrimonial attorney who has been a Southampton Town councilwoman since March 2010.

Prior to that, she has served as chief of a Manhattan district attorney’s office unit that prosecuted fraud in public assistance programs such as welfare, public housing and Medicaid. Before that, she said, she prosecuted sex crimes.

As a Southampton Town Board member, Ms. Fleming says she’s helped to eliminate a budget deficit, thereby restoring the town’s credit rating; focused on proper staffing and controls in the town finance department; and spearheaded economic initiatives such as the Farm Fresh Market in Flanders, which is run by teenagers and sells local produce, and the Youth Build Project in Riverside, which teaches young people about sustainable building methods while restoring blighted homes.

She claims Mr. LaValle has not been effective in bringing the East End its fair share of school aid and says the amount of money East End residents pay in state taxes is more than what they get back in state services.

“Money comes out of our district, goes up to the pot in Albany and then doesn’t come back with us getting our fair share,” she said a recent debate. “We need somebody who is fighting for our local needs.”

A resident of Noyac since 2001, Ms. Fleming lives with her husband, Robert Agoglia, a general contractor, and their 9-year old son, Jai.

09/13/12 9:45pm

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Bridget Fleming (right) will oppose Senator Ken LaValle in a November election.

Southamptown Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming won in a landslide over Jennifer Maertz of Rocky Point in a Democratic primary to face Senator Ken LaValle in November, unofficial results from the Suffolk County Board of Elections indicate.

Ms. Fleming, 52, of Sag Harbor received 79 percent of the votes Thursday with 2,031 cast in her favor to Ms. Maertz’s 531.

Ms. Fleming was an assistant district attorney in New York City, where she prosecuted sex crimes and headed a unit that prosecuted fraud in public programs. She was elected to fill a vacant seat on the Southampton Town Council in 2010, and won a full four-year term last year.

Ms. Maertz, 36, is an attorney from Rocky Point, and lost to 36-year incumbent Mr. LaValle two years ago when she stepped in after candidate Regina Calcaterra was taken off the ballot due to a residency issue.

During a debate last month, both Ms. Maertz and Ms. Fleming criticized Mr. LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) as a “part of the culture in Albany” that has not sought more tax allocations for the East End from around the state.

Both candidates said they support same-sex marriage and argued that changes needed to be made to the 2 percent tax levy cap passed by the state last year.

They differed on the important of campaign financing, with Ms. Fleming saying she stood the best shot of beating Mr. LaValle due to her leftover campaign funds, while Ms. Maertz said voters should choose based on a candidate’s positions, not the size of their warchest.

08/31/12 8:00am

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Jennifer Maertz (left) and Bridget Fleming are squaring off in a Democratic primary for the opportunity to oppose Senator Ken LaValle.

Over the years, the list of Democratic opponents against longtime incumbent state Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) reads like a “Who’s Who” of candidates nobody remembers.

Some of them were on the ballot, but went the entire campaign without making much noise on the campaign front.

This year, there’s a Sept. 13 primary between two Democratic candidates who are seeking to take on the 36-year incumbent.

Jennifer Maertz, 36, an attorney from Rocky Point, lost against Mr. LaValle two years ago as a last-minute replacement for Regina Calcaterra, who was knocked off the ballot on a residency issue.

Now Ms. Maertz will square off against Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, 52, of Sag Harbor. Ms. Fleming was elected to fill the remaining year of a vacated council term in 2010 and then was elected to a full four-year term in 2011. Prior to that, she was an assistant district attorney in New York City, where she prosecuted sex crimes and headed a unit that prosecuted fraud in public programs.

The two squared off in a forum sponsored Wednesday night by the Southampton League of Women Voters in the Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton.

Both candidates took their shots at the incumbent, who was not present.

“The incumbent senator has been in office for 36 years,” Ms. Fleming said of Mr. LaValle, 73. “He’s become over these many years a part of the culture in Albany, more responsive to special interests than to the immediate needs of the people in the first district. He has overseen steady tuition hikes and failed to protect our economy while moving to raise his own salary.”

“We send more tax dollars upstate than we get in return,” Ms. Maertz said. “And upstate, the opposite is true. And this has been going on a very long time and our state senator has done nothing about it and has not changed this. Do you want to know why? Because the Republican party has its power base in upstate New York and he has to go along with the party.”

The two candidates agreed on a number of the issues raised by audience questions in Wednesday’s forum, such as the need to fully repeal the MTA payroll tax, support for same-sex marriage, and support for a Shinnecock casino, but not on the East End.

One area they differed was on campaign funding. While both supported public financing of campaigns, Ms. Fleming said one of the reasons to vote for her and not Ms. Maertz was that she has raised far more money and would have a better chance in November against Mr. LaValle because of that.

According to the most recent campaign disclosure forms on file, Ms. Fleming’s campaign had raised $44,020 at the end of August and had $56,802 left, while Ms. Maertz hadn’t raised anything in the most recent filing period and had a total of $3,206 remaining.

“It’s one of the reasons I think you should chose me on Sept. 13,” Ms. Fleming said. “In order to be viable, you’ve got to be able to raise money. It’s such a shame, but our opponent, Ken LaValle, has gotten $76,000 from Albany PACs (Political Action Committees). These are the business council for the industry PAC that write checks to (Senate Majority Leader Dean) Skelos, a check to (State Senator John) Flanagan, a check to LaValle. They come out for the incumbents because that’s the way things operate.

“And that’s got to change. We don’t have a level playing field and we turn into to a government where we have incumbents who are in office for decades and who have lost touch with their constituents.”

Mr. LaValle’s latest campaign disclosure forms show he had raised $198,591 in the most recent filing period and had $252,590 remaining in his campaign war chest.

“I agree with you on public financing of campaigns but I disagree that funding should be the number one reason you should be choosing a candidate,” Ms. Maertz responded. “If that were true, then neither one of us should be here because neither one of us is going to outspend Ken LaValle this year. I believe the voters of this district are more sophisticated than that. I believe that with today’s technology you can get the word out about these elections online and by old fashioned door-to-door campaigning and talking to voters. Voters are not going to be looking at how much money you have in the bank, they’re going to be looking at your viewpoints on the issues, your dedication to serving, and your follow through with your commitments, and your interest in serving the people.”

Another slight disagreement came during a discussion on same-sex marriage. Both candidates said they supported same sex marriage, and both were critical of Mr. LaValle’s vote against the issue, in which he said the people of the district were “not ready” for it.

Ms. Maertz said polls showed the people of the district overwhelmingly supported same-sex marriage. But she added, “while legislatures must answer to their constituents, when it comes to civil rights issues, I don’t care what the constituents say. It’s a matter of civil rights. You cannot impose segregation, for instance, because you feel the polls are in favor of it.”

Ms. Fleming responded, “Having served as an elected official now and having been reelected for a second term, I do care what the constituents say. I support marriage equality unquestionably, but I do care what constituents say. Sometimes you have to adjust and be sure that you’re serving the community you’re serving.”

Ms. Maertz said that on civil rights issues, “I don’t care if 70 percent of the people were against it,” she’d still vote in favor.

On the issue of the state’s 2 percent tax cap, both candidates felt changes were needed.

Ms. Maertz feels there should be more exemptions to give schools and governments more leeway, and Ms. Fleming said Southampton Town had to eliminate some needed services to comply with the cap. Both candidates felt there should be more relief from state and federal mandates, if there’s going to be a tax cap.

The date of the primary, Sept. 13, falls on a Thursday.

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