Voters Bring About Power Shift In Nassau County Legislature

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Supervisors Murray, Kaiman Hang On for Another Term

(Editor’s Note: The following are unofficial results as of press time, according to the Nassau County Board of Elections.)

The voters have spoken. Familiar faces will return to the Nassau County Legislature with the exception of Dave Mejias (14 L.D.) and Jeffrey Toback (7 L.D.).

Their losses shift the power back into the hands of Republicans by an 11-8 majority. Presiding Officer Diane Yatauro, though honored to be re-elected to another term as a county legislator, is disheartened by the loss of her party’s legislative majority.

“Political winds are often influenced by prevailing socio-economic conditions. Last night we witnessed significant voter opposition to incumbents, which severely affected many Democrats,” Yatauro said. “Voter anger was a product of the now year-long recession, which caused massive unemployment, a serious credit crisis and real fear in the hearts of taxpayers across the nation.”

Yatauro continued, “We in Nassau County had to make some tough and, in some cases, unpopular decisions to keep our county solvent. As I congratulate my Republican colleagues on re-taking the legislative majority, I pledge to continue to work towards bringing financial stability to our county government.”

Ever since 1999, when the Republicans lost their majority, incumbent Peter Schmitt (the longtime representative of the 12th legislative district, which includes most of the Massapequa area) has served as minority leader in the legislature. On Nov. 3, Schmitt was re-elected. Now, he is in line to become majority leader once again.

“We are thrilled to be taking over the majority,” Schmitt said. “We look forward to doing what we told the residents we would do. We are going to repeal that home energy tax and we’re going to cut spending and we are going to repair the institutional integrity of the legislature.”

 
Nassau County
Nassau County Legislature

Incumbent Republican John Ciotti of North Valley Stream bested Democrat Nina Petraro Bastardi of Valley Stream by a 6,252 to 4,654 vote. Legislator Ciotti has been representing the Legislature’s 3rd District for 14 years.

Incumbent Republican Legislator Vincent Muscarella also proved victorious this Election Day in the 8th L.D., besting Democratic challenger Gaspare Tumminello by a 11,005 to 3,154 vote. Legislator Muscarella was first elected in 1996 at the inception of the Nassau County Legislature. Prior to that, he served as a New York State assemblyman from 1991-1995.

The same is true for fellow legislator and incumbent, Republican Rich Nicolello of New Hyde Park, who bested Democratic challenger Dolores Sedacca by a 9,095 to 4,148 vote in the 9th L.D. Legislator Nicolello has represented the 9th L.D. since the inception of the Nassau County Legislature. He is currently the ranking member of the Planning Committee and the Labor Committee.

 

Nassau County Executive

According to the unofficial results of the Nassau County Board of Elections, incumbent Democratic County Executive Tom Suozzi received 118,111 votes while Republican challenger Ed Mangano received 117,874 and Conservative challenger Steven Hansen received 9,552.

“Clearly, the people of Nassau County want to see change in Nassau County government,” said Mangano. “I am hopeful I will be leading that change and I thank everyone who supported me in my grassroots campaign and platform to stop wasteful spending, fix the property tax assessment system, stop the energy tax and create local jobs and opportunities.”

In a press conference Nov. 4, Suozzi called the dead-heat race a sign of issues larger than his contest with Mangano, interpreting widespread “anti-Democrat” and “anti-incumbent sentiments” as a display of frustration with high taxes.

“People are mad as hell about property taxes,” he said. “You don’t see this result in one place. This is going on all over the region. People are unhappy and they take it out on incumbents.”

With approximately 237 votes separating the candidates at the moment, the county executive said the race was too close to call and that the recount process could take up to a month as voting machines are re-canvassed, legal challenges are made and absentee ballots are counted.

According to the Nassau County Board of Elections, some 12,000 absentee ballots were mailed out and so far 6,000 have been returned; to be valid, absentee ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 2 and received by Nassau County Board of Elections no later than Nov. 10.    

Suozzi said he was not shocked by the close race. He believes it brings an important issue to a head – the fact that the bulk of the taxes overburdening people are coming from school taxes, which Albany should cap.

“The voters are angry, and I share their anger,” he said. “What we need to do is channel that anger now and hope that some good comes out of these results. It is school taxes that are crushing Long Island. If I am defeated, it will be a wake up call to other elected officials that, ‘If it happened to Suozzi, it could happen to me.’ If I win, I will continue the crusade to stop Albany from pushing costs down. Everybody has to wake up.”

He warned that if he loses and Republicans assume control of the executive branch, as they have the legislative branch of Nassau County, their cost-cutting methods could revert the county back into the “fiscal basket case” it was when he took office. He said that presently Nassau has the highest bond rating it has had in 20 years and that removing huge revenues like the $39 million energy tax without a way to “fill the gap” could destabilize the county.

 

Nassau County District Attorney

In another heated race, this time for Nassau County district attorney, incumbent Democrat Kathleen Rice, a Garden City High School graduate, received 129,508 votes while her opponent, Republican Joy Watson of Hempstead, received 109,526 votes.

DA Rice said she has five major priorities for her second term: committing more resources and initiating several new crackdowns targeting gang proliferation in Nassau County; adding more resources to the prosecution of online sexual predators; drafting and passing a sweeping pension reform bill in Albany, saving taxpayers millions and restoring their trust in the fairness of the system; passing a luring statute in Albany that adequately criminalizes predators who lure children online to locations in our community. Right now there exists a dangerous loophole in state law that seriously under criminalizes these offenses, Rice said, adding that she will work to expand community education programs to include more locations and more topics.

 

Nassau County Comptroller

As of press time, it appears as though incumbent Democrat Howard Weitzman will relinquish his power to Republican opponent George Maragos, who received 115,473 to Weitzman’s 114,897.

With 576 votes separating the two candidates, a spokesperson for Weitzman said the final outcome would be determined once all absentee ballots are counted.

Maragos, a longtime Great Neck resident, is currently CEO and founder of SDS Financial Technologies, an organization that provides financial information and online trading services to the financial industry. SDS has been in business in New York for 20 years. Maragos has 35 years of senior management positions and said that during those 35 years of experience he has achieved many “accomplishments with leading organizations in banking, consulting, and information systems.”

 

Nassau County Clerk

Incumbent Republican Maureen O’Connell bested Democratic challenger Carrie Solages by a vote of 142,774 to 86,482. In November 2005, O’Connell was elected countywide to the Office of Nassau County Clerk. She said her first initiative was to get back to the basics of providing prompt, professional service.

 

Town of Hempstead Supervisor

Kate Murray, incumbent Republican candidate for Hempstead Town Supervisor, proved victorious Nov. 3, besting Democratic candidate Kristin McElroy of Garden City by a vote of 82,265 to 44,530. “I want to thank all the volunteers who worked for my re-election and all the residents who exercised their right to vote,” Hempstead Town Supervisor Murray said. Murray said her first priority is holding the line on all town taxes for 2010 while continuing a “full complement of services and programs to town residents.”

 

Town Clerk

Incumbent Republican Hempstead Town Clerk Mark Bonilla received 79,772 votes while his opponent Anthony Rattoballi, a Garden City resident, received 42,951 votes. Bonilla has served as Town of Hempstead clerk since 2003. He admits that even though he’s accomplished much in his three terms, he knows there’s always room for improvement. For example, Bonilla would like to open Town Hall on Saturday (once a month) so that he can make other services available to residents that can’t be given via the Mobile Town Hall (i.e. birth/death certificates, marriage/hunting licenses, etc.)

Town of North Hempstead Supervisor

In the race for North Hempstead Town supervisor, incumbent Democrat Jon Kaiman received 20,333 votes while his challenger, Republican Lee Tu, received 17,600.

5th Council District

North Hempstead Councilwoman Lee Seeman, the Democratic incumbent for the 5th Council District (the villages of Saddle Rock, Great Neck Estates, Great Neck Plaza, Russell Gardens and Lake Success as well as the unincorporated areas in Great Neck, New Hyde Park and Floral Park Centre), bested her opponent, Republican Louis Chisari, by a vote of 3,758 to 2,626. A long time Great Neck resident, Seeman has been on the town council since 2005.

North Hempstead Town Clerk

Incumbent Democratic North Hempstead Town Clerk Leslie Gross proved victorious Election Day, besting her Republican challenger Jon Wicks by a vote of 20,314 to 15,781. Gross, a resident of Manhasset, filled out the unexpired term of Michelle Schimel from April to November 2007, when she was elected to a two-year term as town clerk; the term of office has since been expanded to four years. Since 2007, she attended the Cornell Municipal Clerks Institute and completed the educational requirements to achieve Certified Municipal Clerk status before the completion of her third year in office. 

 

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