Former Democratic Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker announced Feb. 5 that she will be running for the First District State Senate seat held for the past four years by Anthony Palumbo, on the heels of Mr. Palumbo announcing his bid for re-election on Jan. 31.

The First Senate District includes the northern portion of Brookhaven Town and the five East End towns — East Hampton, Riverhead, Shelter Island, Southampton and Southold.

Mr. Palumbo, a Republican attorney from New Suffolk on the North Fork, has held the seat since 2021, after he was elected following the retirement of longtime State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle.

Ms. Anker, of Mount Sinai, won the Sixth Legislative District seat on the Suffolk County Legislature in a special election in 2011 and served until she was term-limited out at the end of 2023. Serving in a predominantly Republican district, she focused on substance abuse and mental health issues, support of law enforcement and women’s rights during her time in the legislature.

Mr. Palumbo began his career as a prosecutor in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office and then served as the North Fork’s State Assemblyman from 2013 to 2020 before becoming a State Senator.

“As Senator, I will continue my efforts to make Suffolk County a safer and more affordable place to call home,” said Mr. Palumbo in announcing his re-election bid. “I will also work to address the myriad issues impacting our region from property tax stabilization and the skyrocketing cost of living to environmental protection, water quality, state school aid and transportation funding for the diverse communities I represent.”

“As the Chair of the Suffolk County Addiction Prevention and Support Advisory Panel, I worked across party lines to address the opioid epidemic and rallied to provide additional support for those dealing with addiction,” said Ms. Anker. “I led the successful community effort to build the North Shore Rail Trail, providing a safer place for our families to recreate. I was a strong supporter of funding law enforcement and working on public safety projects like the SAVE Hotline to provide a direct link in the case of a school emergency.”

Senator Palumbo currently serves as the Deputy Republican Floor Leader in a chamber that is currently controlled by a two-thirds majority of Democrats, and is the ranking member on the Senate Codes and Judiciary Committees.            

“The hyper-partisan climate in state government has its challenges, but I have worked hard to reach across the aisle and deliver results for residents of the First Senate District,” said Mr. Palumbo. “I am extremely proud of my efforts to expand access to safe drinking water, establish the Community Housing Fund to create affordable workforce housing, enact a deer management bill for the Town of Southold, and the pass the Montaukett Recognition bill, despite repeated vetoes by New York’s Governors.”

“A strong opposition is needed to counter one-party rule in New York State, especially regarding Albany’s pro-crime and economic policies that have made the State and Long Island less safe and less affordable,” he added.

Ms. Anker disagreed.

“As a Democrat who has represented a Republican district, I will continue to find common ground for the common good by bringing people together and setting politics aside,” she said in a statement announcing her candidacy. “The reality is, the State Senate has a 42-21 Democratic supermajority, and the only way Suffolk County can get its fair share is to have strong voices in the majority who will fight for our Long Island values.”

Mr. Palumbo defeated victims rights advocate Laura Ahearn with 51 percent of the vote in 2020, and progressive candidate Skyler Johnson, who like Ms. Anker is a Mount Sinai resident, in 2022 56 percent of the vote.

Ms. Anker narrowly won her last election to the legislature in a three-way race in 2021, with 46 percent of the vote. Her Republican challenger took 45.7 percent and a Conservative challenger took 8.26 percent. The Sixth Legislative District extends from Mount Sinai to Shoreham along the North Shore, as far south as Yaphank.

“As a mom, community advocate, union supporter and former elected official, I will continue to dedicate my time and energy to helping residents and finding the resources they need,” said Ms. Anker. “I will put people above politics, and prioritize cutting high taxes, supporting public safety, protecting our water, expanding Long Island housing, addressing the drug addiction epidemic and mental health crisis, advocating for our seniors, veterans and kids and finding real solutions through effective leadership. I will also commit to being a full-time State Senator as I was a full-time County Legislator.”

“As your Senator, I will continue fighting for Suffolk County’s fair share of state education aid and transportation funding to make certain that Long Island’s growing needs are met and that homeowners are not faced with astronomical hikes to already excessive property taxes. Additionally, I will work tirelessly to protect our suburban tax dollars and keep them from being siphoned into New York City to deal with the crises City leadership has created,” said Mr. Palumbo.

Election Day is Nov. 5. 

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Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at

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