Jon Schneider will step down in January from his post as chairman of the Brookhaven Democratic Committee, a decision he announced in a letter sent to the committee Wednesday.
Schneider, whose primary occupation is spokesman for U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop, D-Southampton, has held the unpaid position of chairman since chosen by members of the committee in December of 2009. In his letter of resignation, he said one reason he is leaving is to help his mentor, Rich Schaffer, chairman of the Suffolk County Democratic Committee, work on the 2011 campaign for county executive.
That race will pit candidates against county executive Steve Levy, the former Democrat who became a Republican in March and later tried unsuccessfully to obtain the Republican party's gubernatorial nomination. On Friday, Levy spokesman Brendan Stanton said "it is more likely than not" the executive will seek re-election in 2011.
Suffolk County Legis. Vivian Viloria-Fisher, D-Setauket, is already.
Schaffer did not immediately return a request for comment on Thursday.
In his letter to the Brookhaven Democratic Committee, Schneider said "it would be unfair to the Committee for me to stay on as chairman" given his numerous responsibilities.
He said the committee will elect a new chairman in January to start off a year which will see a number of key town and county races.
"With [supervisor] Mark Lesko and [highway superintendent] John Rouse heading our ticket, I think most Brookhaven Democrats feel optimistic heading into 2011," he said.
In an interview on Thursday, Jesse Garcia, Schneider's counterpart at the Brookhaven Town Republican Committee, called him "an adversary that advanced a very liberal agenda" and wished him well.
"Being the chairman of a political party is a thankless job," Garcia said. "Both he and I have young families, and it takes a lot of time and commitment to do this job."
Garcia said Brookhaven has more registered Republicans than registered Democrats, and that the town government itself has a Republican majority, but said the residential demographics have shifted so much recently that it would be difficult to call the town a stronghold for either party.