Special election for Assembly seat pits teacher vs. teacher

Posted: Updated:

A special election will be held Tuesday to fill the Assembly seat vacated by new Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino. 

Saladino left the Assembly and was appointed by the Oyster Bay Town Board to serve as supervisor after his predecessor John Venditto was arrested on federal corruption charges. 

Democrat Christine Pellegrino, a teacher and anti-common core advocate from West Islip, says she will work on behalf of resident to combat corruption. 

"They deserve a change. Someone who can stand up honestly, with integrity, who is not connected to corruption," says Pellegrino. 

The leading teachers union in the state has poured in $200,000 into this race to back Pellegrino.

Her opponent is not from Oyster Bay, and he's not even technically a Republican. Tom Gargiulo is a member of the Conservative Party from Babylon Village. He has been endorsed by the Republican Party. The teacher and Wyandanch High School girls' basketball coach insists he is a man that voters can trust.

"They don't have to worry about coach Tom Gargiulo. I do the right thing, I'm an honest guy, I always tell the truth and I talk from the heart," he says. 

Political consultant Michael Dawidziak says the issue of corruption may not be enough to put Pellegrino over the top since Republicans have controlled the seat for years. 

"I don't really think that the problems in Oyster Bay are going to wash up on an Assembly District race," says Dawidziak. "Its an easier job for Republicans and Conservatives to turn out the vote because there are more of them."

There are 12,000 more registered Republicans in the district than Democrats.

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