The New York State Appellate Court issued a pro-voter ruling on May 5, permitting former Legislator Kate Browning to run for the Suffolk County Legislature Third District.
The Suffolk County GOP filed court papers to uphold the county's term limit law on Friday, April 2, claiming Browning cannot serve another term.
Further, the GOP move, in conjunction with Republican candidate Jim Mazzarella, would deny Browning the opportunity to run and made Mazzarella run unopposed in the May 25 Special Election. The Appellate Court unanimously overturned a ruling by a county Republican judge who deemed that under county law, a Legislator who served for 12 consecutive years can stand for election after a break in service.
“I’ve fought hard my whole life, and I’ll keep up the fight, because this community needs a fighter, not a partisan hack who wants to deny voters a choice,” Browning said, referencing Mazzarella. “I grew up in the North of Ireland during the troubles, I married a soldier, and raised three children with my husband serving in the NYPD while putting myself through college and driving a school bus. Voters know me, and they know that no one will fight harder to give this community the representation we deserve.”
Suffolk County Democratic Committee Chair Rich Schaffer said Mazzarella is "fighting for himself while Kate Browning is fighting for the people."
"While Jim Mazzarella’s campaign has been stooping to a new level of low, trying to distract voters and suppress the vote, Browning has been talking about her positive record and vision for the future. Voters don’t want this type of mudslinging, they want to hear about how Kate is going to continue protecting families and taxpayer dollars, fighting for the sewer project which will create good paying jobs and clean up our drinking water, and standing with law enforcement to keep our community safe.”
Browning was term-limited in 2017 after 12 years in office. But she previously told this publication that it was possible to interpret the county term-limit law as permitting a lawmaker to come back after sitting out for two years. She went on to run in a Democratic primary to challenge Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin in 2018. She is currently the director of code enforcement for the Town of Babylon.
Jesse Garcia, the chairman of the Suffolk County and Brookhaven Town Republican Committees, responded to the decision and said that a "panel of politically connected judges who were appointed to their positions by Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo put their thumbs on the scales of justice, thwarting the clear will and intention of Suffolk voters who approved term limits by public referendum."
"This galling decision runs counter to the intention of voters who went to the polls and clearly made their feelings known that they wanted to limit the term of office of their county legislators to no more than 12 years," Garcia continued. "It is a travesty that cannot be allowed to stand, and will hopefully be quickly reversed on appeal to uphold the will of the people."