As widely anticipated, Nassau's Republicans retained their majority in the local assembly delegation, both of its candidates winning handily in Tuesday's special election to fill two vacancies created after last year's elections.
The election, to fill vacancies in the 17th and 19th assembly districts, was made necessary by electoral wins in November by Michael Balboni, who is now a state senator, and Charles O'Shea, the newly elected chairman of the Board of Assessors.
When all the votes were tallied, Republican Maureen O'Connell , of East Williston, had garnered 4,493 votes, 82.3 percent of the total ballots cast in the 17th Assembly District. Democrat Mark Keefe came in second with 853 votes, and perennial independent candidate Lawrence McAllister received 116 votes.
In the 19th Assembly District, Republican Kathleen Murray. of Levittown, garnered 2,691 votes, 73.4 percent of those cast, while Democrat JoAnn Flora received 905, and independent Benjamin Slutsky received 69.
"The simple truth is, we need more women in government," Joseph N. Mondello, chairman of the Nassau County Republican Committee declared when announcing the women's candidacies. "Governing bodies, such as the Hempstead Town Board, simply can't be dominated by men anymore."
The nomination of O'Connell and Murray came a year after the local Republican committee ran a total of 14 women for elective office on the county and statewide level.
With their election, and the anticipated victory by incumbent Assemblywoman Donna Ferrara in November, the Nassau Republican delegation will have more women representatives in the legislature than any other county Republican organization in the state.
Though their numbers have been growing in recent years, women in general still remain a minority by a long shot in the assembly. Currently, only 23 of the ninety-six Democrats, or roughly 24 percent of their caucus in the lower house of the legislature are women, compared to 8 out of 51 Republicans, roughly 19 percent of that caucus.
Maureen O'Connell last went before the voters this past November when she ran for North Hempstead Supervisor. In that race she fell just 793 votes short of unseating longtime Democratic incumbent May Newburger.
The assemblywoman-elect is currently the deputy mayor of East Williston, where she has been a member of the village board since 1991.
She has also served on the East Williston School District Budget Advisory Committee and in various leadership capacities in the East Williston Civic Association.
O'Connell is currently a member of the American Cancer Society Breast Cancer Detection Team and the Mercy League of Roslyn and the Willistons.
Professionally, O'Connell is an attorney in private practice. A registered nurse, she previously held clinical and administrative positions with responsibilities at North Shore University Hospital.
She and her husband have one child.
Assemblywoman-elect Kathleen Murray is an attorney and presently deputy section chief of the Criminal Justice Section in the litigation bureau of the New York State Attorney General's office.
A graduate of Boston College and the Suffolk University Law School in Boston, Massachusetts, Murray served as an advocate in the Suffolk University Battered Women's Advocacy Project, and has had an extensive and varied career in the private practice of law.
Long active in the Levittown community, Murray is a member of St. Bernard's Roman Catholic Church, the Nassau County Bar Association, the Irish Americans in Government of Nassau County, and was a volunteer for both the 40th and 50th anniversary celebrations of Levittown.