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Democrat Jay Schneiderman moves to create Protect the Taxpayers party line

David M. Schwartz

Democratic Suffolk County comptroller candidate Jay Schneiderman is moving to create a Protect the Taxpayers party designation on the November ballot as he seeks to unseat incumbent Republican Comptroller John M. Kennedy Jr.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone sent an email to supporters asking for help collecting 1,500 valid signatures by Tuesday.

Schneiderman, the Southampton Town supervisor, initially hesitated to green-light the effort because it won’t result in a separate ballot line, but only provide an icon next to his name. But Schneiderman said last week he decided to move forward because it “will help with reaching out to voters with my message and record” of holding the line on general fund property taxes.

A Kennedy spokesman said “the best way for the Supervisor to protect taxpayers is to continue his fine work in Southampton” and “support Kennedy in his efforts to stop the financial hemorrhaging in the bloated Bellone budget.” Kennedy has the Conservative, Independence and Reform lines. Schneiderman also has the Working Families and Women’s Equality lines.

Jon Kaiman, a deputy county executive who also serves as Bellone’s political adviser, sent an email to Bellone supporters earlier this month to collect signatures in partnership with the county Democratic Party.

“Both of these points of organization and authority are on the same page when it comes to this countywide race. All sides are rowing in the same direction,” Kaiman said in an interview.

Suffolk Democratic Chairman Rich Schaffer said volunteers would work to collect signatures. But he said the Democratic primary for county Surrogate’s Court judge, in which Republican Tara Scully and Democrat Theresa Whelan are facing off, would take precedence.

Schaffer supports Whelan; Bellone is not making an endorsement in the primary, Kaiman said.

Schaffer said of party volunteers, “when they’re free from working on the Theresa Whelan primary, they would help with this Jay Schneiderman petition effort.”