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Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
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Two Going to Albany

The state Assembly has often been the first elective office held by promising political newcomers so it is worth watching who prevails in the Tuesday, Feb. 9 special elections to fill two Assembly openings.

Nassau’s 15th Assembly District (AD) seat was vacated when state Assemblyman Robert Walker (R-Hicksville) resigned last month to become county executive Edward Mangano’s chief deputy county executive. In Suffolk, state Assemblywoman Patricia Eddington (D-Medford) stepped down from her Albany post after being elected last fall as Brookhaven’s town clerk. She represented the 3rd AD.

Michael Montesano, an attorney who resides in Glen Head, is the Republican, Conservative and Independence Party nominee in the 15th AD, where he will square off next Tuesday against Democrat Matt Meng, the owner and operator of an auto body repair company who lives in East Norwich. Both Montesano and Meng are coming off unsuccessful November 2009 campaigns. Montesano lost a bid last fall to unseat county Legislator Diana Yatauro (D-Glen Cove) while Meng fell short in an attempt to become an Oyster Bay town board member.

The 15th AD extends from southeastern North Hempstead into northern Oyster Bay, and even includes northern portions of Hempstead town.

Dean Murray, the owner of an advertising and publishing firm, resides in East Patchogue and is running in the 3rd AD under the Republican, Conservative and the newly formed School Tax Relief Party banners. Lauren Thoden, an attorney from Patchogue, has the support of the Democratic, Independence and Working Family parties. The 3rd AD falls within the southwestern part of Brookhaven town.

Two of these four candidates will travel this month to Albany amid an extraordinarily contentious legislative session. Like the 210 other state legislators they’ll be joining in the state capital, the two Assembly members elected on Feb. 9 will have to stand for election again in November 2010 in order to serve a full, two-year term. The balance of power in the state Assembly, where Democrats hold more than 100 of the 150 seats, isn’t about to change.

The state Senate, where the Democrats hold a 32-30 edge, is where much of the media attention will focus in the November 2010 election cycle. This may explain the heightened level of governmental activity on the part of the state Senate’s Democrats. You may recall I wrote a few weeks ago about New York Racing Association (NYRA) president and chief executive officer Charles Hayward’s strategic mistake, wherein Hayward implied publicly that June 2010’s Belmont Stakes in Elmont might not take place unless the Paterson administration and the state Legislature acted favorably and quickly on NYRA’s bid to have video lottery terminals installed at Aqueduct Race Track in Ozone Park.

Hayward is paying a price for his impertinence. State Senator Craig Johnson (D-Port Washington), chairman of the Senate committee on Investigations and Government Operations, and state Senator Eric Adams (D-Brooklyn), chairman of the Senate committee on Racing, Wagering and Gaming, convened yesterday (Wednesday, Feb. 3) a public hearing in Elmont to scrutinize and discuss NYRA’s finances. One of the first names on the hearing’s witness list: Charles Hayward.


Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism. Email: