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Voters Elect Jason Richberg to Fill DuWayne Gregory's Seat in 15th District

Rachelle Blidner

Jason Richberg, a West Babylon Democrat, defeated by a wide margin two challengers — an Amityville Republican and a Copiague Democrat — in a special election for a prominent Suffolk County Legislature seat.

Suffolk Board of Election results showed that Richberg, a clerk to the legislature, won as many as 2,022 votes of 2,501 cast in a contest to win the 15th Legislative District and replace former Legis. DuWayne Gregory, who once served as presiding officer.

"I think it’s important at this point in time that we get together and listen to what the needs of the district are," Richberg said after the votes were tallied. "Obviously, people want to be heard and I am here to be that voice for them."

His Republican challenger, Christopher Connors, a part-time aide to a GOP senator, and Jackie Duodu-Burbridge, a nonprofit consultant who ran on the Working Families party line, received 207 and 271 votes, respectively, according to online Suffolk BOE records. One vote was cast for a write-in candidate.

Connors said he was grateful to the voters who backed him.

“I would like to thank the people who took the time to come and vote for me in what we knew was going to be an impossible race to win,” he said. “I thought I had a good message. I just wasn’t able to get it out there.”

Duodu-Burbridge could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.

The 15th District includes Amityville, Wyandanch, Copiague, East Farmingdale and Wheatley Heights. Polls were open at 14 sites on Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. after days of early voting.

The election comes two months after Gregory left the 15th District seat to join the Babylon Town Board after more than a decade in county office.

The results of Tuesday's contest did little to change the makeup of the county legislature, which has held a Democratic majority in recent years. Richberg joins a body that, before the special election, had nine Democrats and eight Republicans. His win means Democrats hold their majority.

A Connors win would have evenly split the legislature along party lines while Duodu-Burbridge's win would have also maintained the status quo.

County politicos had said they expected Richberg to win because the district is majority Democrat and because he previously worked for Gregory as his chief of staff.

But Duodu-Burbridge, 42, a registered Democrat, said she ran on the Working Families Party line to give voters another choice. She said she felt county Democrats “skirted” the Democratic process by picking a candidate without a primary.

In special elections, candidates can get on the ballot just by party nomination, unlike in regular elections in which candidates must file petitions with enough signatures to qualify.

Richberg, 37, ran on the Independence party line, and Connors, 61, was on the Conservative party ballot line.