Democrat Mark Lesko emerged from Tuesday’s special election with an overwhelming and surprisingly large victory over Republican counterpart Tim Mazzei for Brookhaven’s town supervisor.
Polls closed at 9pm, and within an hour Mazzei was offering his concession speech while Lesko supporters were keeping close tabs on the official numbers, celebrating only after the last district reported its numbers. In the end, Lesko defeated Mazzei by over 4,000 votes, or roughly 11% of the more than 14,000 residents who voted.
Special elections typically see a greatly diminished turnout, usually about 10% of the turnout for regular November elections. But both campaigns invested heavily in canvassing, and the turnout surpassed 14%, still low but historically higher than in other similar elections.
Higher turnout was not the case at Stony Brook, where fewer than 100 students voted. Of the 93 that did vote, 87 cast their votes for Lesko.
At the Lesko campaign headquarters in Farmingville, Suffolk County Democratic Committee Chairman Rich Schaffer and Brookhaven Democratic Committee Chairwoman Marsha Laufer thanked several organizations, including many local union chapters, for helping over the last 90 days on the campaign trail.
“I am blown away, people!” said Laufer, who alternated between tears and laughter throughout the night.
Also present were County Executive Steve Levy, as well as Brookhaven Democratic elected officials like Steve Fiore-Rosenfeld, Connie Kepert and Brian Beedenbender.
Mark Lesko addressed the crowd last, adding his own thanks to the hundreds of volunteers from across the town who made phone calls, walked neighborhoods and registered voters.
“Tomorrow we are going to move forward to the future of Brookhaven,” he said. “It will be a government that works for you.”
Lesko takes the position that Brian Foley vacated when he was elected to the State Senate in November. Foley was the first Democrat to be elected as town supervisor in over 30 years. And while Lesko can celebrate his victory, his reelection campaign starts much sooner than usual: he will be up for reelection in just seven months, when the entire town council will be decided in November.
Councilman Fiore-Rosenfeld sees Lesko’s victory as just the first step in the Democrat’s resurgence in Brookhaven.
“Now we have to focus on November and retaking the town council,” he said.
The Democrats are still in the minority on the town council, occupying 2 of the six council seats and now the supervisor’s office.
Tim Mazzei and the Republican Party have not yet decided if he will run for the position again in November, but he will return to his role as representative of Brookhaven’s 5th district on the town council.