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UPDATED: Erin King Sweeney drops re-election bid for town council

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Hempstead Town Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney announced Thursday that she would no longer seek re-election to the Town Board.

In a statement to the Herald Life, Sweeney, a Republican from Wantagh, said, “My husband’s job has been relocated to North Carolina. Therefore, based upon the needs of my family, I will not be a candidate for re-election.”

“My personal journey over the last year has made me appreciate more than ever the importance of family,” she added. “I send my deepest gratitude and best wishes to the residents of the 5th Councilmanic District whom I have had the privilege to serve.”

Sweeney was appointed to serve as the representative for the town’s 5th district — which covers Baldwin, a portion of Freeport, Merrick, Bellmore, Wantagh and Seaford — following the retirement of Angie Cullin in January 2015. She was elected to a four-year term that November.

In July, Town Supervisor Laura Gillen announced the full slate of Democratic candidates for the upcoming election, including Lora Webster, who is running for Sweeney’s seat. Webster is a Paralympic volleyball player, stay-at-home mother and a childhood cancer survivor.

Webster said she was shocked by the announcement, saying that it was “totally out of the blue.” Her friends and colleagues were also surprised, she said, many of whom reached out to her via text Thursday afternoon.

She remained humbled by the news, however, saying that she would continue to run a grassroots campaign by knocking on doors and speaking with residents, as if there were still an opponent in play.

“There are still 55 days to go,” Webster said. “I’m still going to run the race like I am behind, and use that as motivation. As far as I’m concerned, I still have to prove myself to a ton of people.

It is unclear who will replace Sweeney as the Republican candidate for the 5th district. In a statement to the Herald Life, Nassau County Republican Chairman Joseph Cairo said the party would find “a talented and qualified candidate” before Nov. 5, but did not specify who that would be.

“I am confident that voters will select our candidate to carry on the legacy of hard work and commitment that the councilwoman has built during her tenure in office,” Cairo said. “Erin King Sweeney . . . has represented her constituents with distinction and dedication. I wish [her] well, along with her entire family, as she embarks on a new chapter in her life.”

More on this story to follow.