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Democrat Steve Stern wins Assembly special election in Suffolk

David Schwartz

Former Suffolk County Legis. Steve Stern won a special election Tuesday to become the first Democrat in 40 years to represent the 10th Assembly District in Huntington.

Republicans Doug Smith, of Holbrook, and John Mikulin of Bethpage also won Assembly seats in special elections to fill vacancies.

Stern, 49, of Dix Hills, defeated Huntington attorney Janet Smitelli 59 percent to 41 percent, with all precincts reporting. He will fill the seat vacated by Republican Chad Lupinacci, now Huntington Town supervisor.

“This is an important win for us locally. I also strongly believe it makes residents of the 10th Assembly District part of the national story,” Stern said in an interview late Tuesday, referring to a possible Democratic advantage in November. “It was a great win. I attribute it to tremendous volunteers and a positive message.”

Flipping the seat won’t change the makeup of the Assembly, where Democrats hold a large majority. Despite longtime Republican control of the 10th District seat, Democrats have a 5,800 registration advantage over Republicans in the district.

Stern is an attorney specializing in elder law and estate planning. He was term limited as a county legislator last year. Stern lost to Thomas Suozzi in the Democratic primary in the 3rd Congressional District in 2016.

During the Assembly campaign, Stern said he would seek additional state funding for expanding sewer infrastructure in Suffolk County. He also said he would seek more funding for after-school programs to keep young people away from gangs such as MS-13.

Republicans had held the seat since 1978. It includes Huntington, Huntington Station, Cold Spring Harbor, Melville and parts of Dix Hills and East Farmingdale. Lupinacci was first elected to the seat in 2012 and won re-election decisively in 2014 and 2016. His predecessor, James Conte, a Republican, first was elected to the seat in 1988.

The race in the 5th Assembly District filled the vacancy left by former GOP Assemb. Al Graf, who was elected as a District Court Judge in November. Smith, a former aide to Graf, defeated Democrat Deborah Slinkosky, who was making her third run for the seat, 63 percent to 37 percent, according to unofficial returns from the Suffolk Board of Elections.

Smith will represent a district that straddles the Islip-Brookhaven border. There are 5,100 more Republicans than Democrats in the district.

Smith said he’d work in a bipartisan manner to fix problems. As Graf’s aide, he said he fixed more than 2,000 constituent problems, and that he knocked on more than 3,000 doors during the Assembly campaign.

The 17th District in Nassau County featured a pair of millennials.

Mikulin of Bethpage, a deputy Hempstead Town attorney, defeated Democrat Matthew Malin of Seaford, a Nassau elections board clerk.

Mikulin beat Malin by 63 percent to 36 percent with all election districts reporting.

The seat is open because Republican Tom McKevitt was elected to the Nassau County Legislature in November.

Mikulin during the campaign said he wanted to address the county’s growing opioid crisis.

The district includes parts of East Meadow, Levittown, Plainedge, Massapequa and South Farmingdale.

The district has almost 9,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats.