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Nuzzi to Challenge Schneiderman in Suffolk County Legislature Race

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By Kathryn G. Menu

Southampton Town Councilman Chris Nuzzi announced this week he is interested in seeking the Republican nomination for Suffolk County Legislature this fall.

Nuzzi made the announcement during a screening in front of the Southampton Republican Committee Tuesday night.

If endorsed by the Republican committee, Nuzzi would be running against incumbent Jay Schneiderman, a member of the Independence Party, who is seeking his sixth and final term with the legislature.

On Wednesday, Nuzzi, a Republican, confirmed he has expressed an interest in running for county legislature and said he hoped to have the Republican Committee’s support. Their response to his interest, Nuzzi added, was “positive.”

Rumors first began swirling that Nuzzi would seek a seat on the legislature after Schneiderman was nominated by the East Hampton Republican Committee to run for supervisor, a candidacy Schneiderman ultimately turned down.

Nuzzi is prevented from seeking another term as a Southampton Town councilman due to term limits. On Wednesday, he said he believes he could bring a lot to the table as a member of the legislature and despite reaching his term limit on the town board felt his career in public service was far from over.

“I am still very interested and committed to public service,” said Nuzzi. “I would like to explore moving on to a different position with different challenges and one that expands the area that I serve.

In addition to Southampton and East Hampton towns, the county’s second legislative district extends to Shelter Island and into a portion of eastern Brookhaven town.

A resident of Southampton, Nuzzi grew up in East Hampton and said the South Fork as a whole is precious to him.

“The finances and the structure of county government is something that clearly remains a pressing issue,” said Nuzzi. “We have to ensure its financial solvency is maintained. We have made some very difficult decisions in Southampton that has caused a lot of debate but our government is working and we have not had to raise the tax levy in three years, we cut staff through attrition and we have been able to reorganize government where the community is well served through common sense solutions.”

Ensuring the county maintains its support of environmental initiatives on the South Fork, particularly with funding cuts, is critical, added Nuzzi.

On Wednesday, Schneiderman said that while no formal endorsements have been announced, he expects the support of his own party, as well as that of the Democratic Party.

Schneiderman added he would also seek the endorsement of the Working Families party. He was not asked to screen by the Republican committee.

“I will be running on my record which I believe is a strong record of achievement,” said Schneiderman, pointing to the widening of County Road 39 in Southampton, the new sidewalk on the Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike and the creation of Sunday bus service as examples of local initiatives he championed in the legislature.

“I am in my tenth year and in 10 years I have been able to get resources for this district without increasing county property taxes,” he added.