In a video announcement on Wednesday, May 31, Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming unveiled her campaign for the New York State Senate.
The seat is currently held by Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, who has held the position since 1976.
In an interview on Friday, Fleming said she’s decided to make a bid for the long-held Senate seat because she wants to see change in Albany.
“From my leadership role at town government, I can see how issues in our community are being decided in Albany every day,” she said.
Significant issues include the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) payroll tax and local waterways, which she said are facing a “crisis” and “need to be monitored.”
Fleming added that her strength as a town official will serve her well against someone who’s been in office for 35 years.
“I was reelected by a very healthy margin,” she said, referring to her reelection this past November for her town council seat in which she took the lead over three other opponents. “I’ve demonstrated that I can win elections.”
Fleming referred to Long Island’s delegation to the New York State Senate as a “men’s club” and added, “It’s going to take someone who comes from a position of real strength to make inroads into that club. As an elected official, I come from a position of strength.”
Fleming once worked as an Assistant District Attorney in New York City, but now lives in Noyac and has a private law practice in Sag Harbor. Before taking on LaValle, she is set to run in a Democratic primary against Jennifer Maertz, an insurance litigation attorney from Rocky Point.
Maertz announced her campaign for Senate in February, after having previously run an unsuccessful campaign against LaValle in 2010.
“Of course I was surprised she would make that decision [to run],” Maertz said in an interview. She added that, based on how much time Fleming has spent in office, in Maertz’s opinion Fleming is essentially “reneging on the commitment she made to voters in Southampton.”
Fleming was reelected to her position on the Southampton Town Board this past November, after having initially joined the town board in a special election held in March of 2010. She succeeded then-councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst who vacated her seat to become Southampton Town Supervisor.
According to Drew Biondo, director of communications for Senator Ken LaValle, the senator has no comment at this time.