YORKTOWN, N.Y. - Five Republicans looking to replace outgoing Assemblyman Steve Katz in 94th District made their pitch to party leaders last Thursday night.

The forum took place at Murphy’s Restaurant as each candidate, one-by-one, met behind closed doors with the Yorktown Republican Town Committee for about 15 minutes. At about 36,000 residents, Yorktown is the most populated municipality within the district.

“The Yorktown GOP is excited about all of the candidates who are willing to make the necessary sacrifices to represent the 94th Assembly District,” said Yorktown GOP Chairman Matt Slater. “Running for office, on any level, is incredible challenging and we appreciate the number of qualified individuals who participating in the democratic process.”

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The five candidates include both sitting elected officials and political newcomers:

  • First up was Suzi McDonough, a Carmel councilwoman and the only candidate who has made her campaign official. She graduated from Mahopac High School and has five children with her late husband, Jimmy. She has also been a den mother for the Boy Scouts, the director of the St. John’s CYO basketball program and was a team leader for the Relay for Life. In honor of her husband, who passed away from cancer, she founded the Jimmy McDonough Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps families deal with the diagnosis of cancer. McDonough previously worked on former State Sen. Greg Ball’s staff.
  • Another sitting councilman, Bill Faulkner of Somers, is also interested in the seat. The former IBM, PepsiCo and SAP executive was first elected to the Somers Town Board in 2013. A former president of the Somers Education Foundation, Faulkner has lived in Somers for 21 years with his wife, Jill, and daughter, Katie. He has volunteered his time as coach and commissioner of the AYSO soccer program for 28 consecutive seasons, is an active member of the Somers Lions Club and participates in Relay for Life. The Purdue University graduate also has an MBA from Fordham University. Faulkner said he will officially kick off his campaign in March.
  • Mahopac resident Ed Cooke, who describes himself as a “political outsider,” said he has met with Republican Party leaders and has already begun fundraising. Cooke, a carpenter, is a union leader and is the business manager for the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters. He is a member of the Westchester Putnam Workforce Investment Board and former member of the Tilly Foster Farm Advisory Board.
  • Kevin Byrne of Mahopac also threw his hat into the ring. He is the regional director for the American Heart Association and a former aide to Congresswoman Nan Hayworth. Byrne, a Carmel High School graduate, also served locally on the Planning Board, was a Boy Scout troop committee member and merit badge counselor, and was a firefighter and EMT at the Kent Volunteer Fire Department, where he completed three terms as president of the department. He grew up in Putnam Valley and has lived in Mahopac for three years. Byrne earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Scranton and an MPA from Marist College. He is also the vice chair of the Putnam County Republican Committee. Byrne said he will launch his campaign Feb. 27.
  • Robert Puff of Yorktown is another political newcomer. Puff, a partner at New York Life Insurance Company in Manhattan, grew up in Cortlandt Manor and is a 2004 graduate of Walter Panas High School. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Connecticut and earned a Master of Public Administration from Columbia University.

Rich Shaw, a Jefferson Valley resident, also expressed interest in the seat but withdrew his name because of a prior commitment to the New York Guard.

The 94th Assembly District covers Carmel, Patterson, Putnam Valley, Somers, Southeast and Yorktown. These other towns may hold similar candidate meet-and-greets before a caucus is held to choose the candidate.