Assistant Chief of Police and Director of Campus Emergency Management Lawrence Zacarese fell short in the Suffolk County Sheriff’s election, according to unofficial results published online by the Suffolk County Board of Elections on Tuesday evening. However, on Monday morning, Zacarese’s spokesperson Vanessa J. Herman said the campaign was waiting for 13,500 absentee ballots and 1,000 paper ballots to be counted.
“We did not concede,” Herman wrote in a text.
In an election in which over 270,000 people voted, only 1,354 votes separated Zacarese and his opponent, Errol Toulon Jr., as of 11:30 p.m., according to the Suffolk County Board of Elections. Zacarese, endorsed by the Republican and Reform parties, received 139,652 votes. Toulon was endorsed by the Democratic, Conservative and Independence parties and garnered 141,006 votes. A Libertarian candidate, Peter J. Krauss, received 4,613 votes. If Toulon’s victory is certified, he will become the first black sheriff in Suffolk County.
Zacarese ran for political office for the first time this year after working in the Stony Brook University Police Department since 2009. Before that, Zacarese served in the New York City Police Department for 11 years. His connection to the university dates back to the 1990s, when he worked as a paramedic for two years. He has a law degree from Touro College and a master’s degree in public administration from John Jay College. If the results are updated and Zacarese wins, he said he would leave his positions at Stony Brook for the full-time sheriff’s position.
Toulon served in New York City’s Department of Correction for 25 years, including three as deputy commissioner of operations before he ultimately resigned. Toulon has an MBA and a doctorate in education. He has served on the Suffolk County Water Authority since 2010.
While Zacarese has decades of law enforcement experience, Toulon cited his corrections experience on the campaign trail because the sheriff’s office primary responsibility in Suffolk County is running the county jails.
Zacarese was twice endorsed by Newsday, in the Republican primary and before the general election, for running an outsider campaign that “upended the odious revenge plan and cast an illuminating spotlight” on Suffolk County political “shenanigans.” Zacarese beat State Senator Phil Boyle in the Republican primary, upsetting Conservative and Democratic political bosses who intended to back Boyle in the general election, Newsday reported. Instead, they backed Toulon, who entered the race only a month before the general election.
The Zacarese campaign is “not commenting at this time” as they wait for the electoral process to play out. It is unclear how long the process will take.