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Rebecca Sanin can be on Suffolk Legislature ballot, judge rules

Vera Chinese

A state Supreme Court judge on Friday ruled that Rebecca Sanin, a Democrat running for Suffolk County Legislature, can appear on the Nov. 7 ballot after Suffolk Republicans challenged her candidacy.

Sanin, 45, of Huntington Station, faces first-term incumbent Republican Manuel Esteban, 46, of East Northport, in the 16th Legislative District election. The race is considered Democrats' best shot at regaining a seat in the 18-member, GOP-controlled legislature.

Suffolk Democrats last week nominated her to replace their previous candidate, Sidney Joyner, who was ruled ineligible because he does not live in the newly redrawn district that covers parts of West Hills, Huntington Station, South Huntington, Elwood and Brentwood.

Judge Thomas F. Whelan wrote in a five-page decision Friday that the Suffolk Democratic Party can substitute a qualified candidate for a disqualified one. The GOP had argued that because Joyner was ruled ineligible, the petitions he circulated to get on the ballot were voided as well.

“The Court did not hold, and no proof was offered, that the petition itself was improper in any manner,” Whelan wrote.

Whelan said 1964 case law established “the disqualification of a candidate based upon lack of residency in the district of the office sought did not preclude the substitution of another designee or nominee.”

The lawsuit was the second filed in recent weeks by Alvin White, a Republican voter and community leader from Huntington Station who sued to have Joyner removed from the ballot. Whelan ruled against Joyner earlier this month, saying it was “undisputed” that he does not live in the correct district. White then filed suit to remove Sanin.

Steven Losquadro, attorney for White and counsel to the Suffolk County Republican Committee, said he believes separate case law establishes that their argument is correct, but said he respects the court's decision and will not appeal.

"It is important at this time that the election process move forward," he said in a statement.

Suffolk County Democratic Party chairman Rich Schaffer said it was "good that the law prevented the Republicans' cynical attempt to deny the voters a choice in the upcoming election."

Sanin, CEO of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, said in a statement she was "pleased that the court rejected Manny Esteban’s undemocratic lawsuit to run unopposed and deny voters a choice. I look forward to continue earning the support of the 16th district.”

Esteban said he would not be "distracted" by the proceedings.

"My legislative record on public safety and holding the line on taxes is undeniable, and I will remain focused on delivering for my district," he said.