It's official: Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, D-Noyac, has confirmed that she will toss her hat into the ring and run for State Senate this fall against long-time incumbent Kenneth P. LaValle, who plans to fight to retain his seat.
LaValle, R,C-Port Jefferson, represents District 1 in the New York State Senate, an area that encompasses the five East End towns and the eastern portion of Brookhaven Town.
Last week, Fleming confirmed that
In an online video statement on her campaign website, Fleming said her reasons for running include instability in local economies throughout Long Island, among other reasons.
"The economic turmoil and the environmental threats of recent years have been difficult, but they present us with a unique and powerful opportunity," Fleming said. "Business as usual does not work. It doesn’t work for Long Island families, and it won’t leave our kids with the Long Island they deserve to inherit -- full of promise and with a healthy economy.”
She added that she is running for State Senate to ensure the same quality schools, job opportunities, and healthy environment that she and her husband found when they moved to the East End over 10 years ago.
"I’m running for office because our kids deserve better," Fleming said. "Suffolk County is ready for fresh new leadership in the New York State Senate."
Fleming will have another opponent: Jennifer Maertz, D-Rocky Point, has vowed she will run for State Senate for a second time; after now-Deputy County Executive Regina Calcaterra was forced out of the race due to a challenge over residency issues.
When word first began to spread that Fleming was considering a run, Maertz, who announced her candidacy in February, said in published statements that she would remain in the race no matter what Fleming decided.
Fleming, an attorney who lives in Noyac with her husband Robert Agoglia and son Jai, first entered politics during a town board race in 2009. Although she lost that bid, Fleming quickly won a seat only four months later on the Southampton Town Board in 2010 during a special election to fill a council seat left vacant by Anna Throne-Holst, after she was elected Town Supervisor.
In 2011, Fleming was earning the most votes in the race.
Since taking her seat on the Southampton Town Board, Fleming has been a staunch advocate for the environment and has crusaded for revitalization in the Flanders/Riverside area, working to create the market. She has served as a liaison to the police department, housing authority, department of municipal works, animal shelter, the agricultural advisory committee and the green committee.
A graduate of Hunter College's Special Honors Curriculum, and the University of Virginia's School of Law, before beginning her stint in public service, Fleming had a career as an assistant district attorney, working in the sex crimes prosecution unit and later as chief of the welfare fraud unit under New York District Attorney Robert Morganthau. She served as an ADA in New York from 1991 to 2000.
Fleming, who was also the managing attorney of the City Bar Pro Bono Project from 2000 to 2001, worked in the Law Office of Harvey Arnoff from 2001 to 2002 and started her own law office in 2008. She also served in the Noyac Citizens. Advisory Committee prior to joining the town board.
Another reason for running, she added, was a "poisonous political atmosphere" on the state level.
"For years, I have watched as politicians and special interests have played games in Albany to the detriment of our local economy," Fleming said. "If we want to break from the scandal and dysfunction that has gripped Albany for years, we need to elect new representation here at home.”
Neither LaValle nor Maertz were immediately available for comment.