''What a mandate for a new vision for Nassau County,'' proclaimed Nassau County Democratic Party Chairman Tom DiNapoli.
Choking back tears of joy, Mr. DiNapoli stated, ''Our candidates made the difference...This is an affirmation of all we have tried to do...Those who have been around a long time never had a night like that...''
Speaking at a press conference, along with a host of Democratic legislators, the day after the Democrats swept the elections in Nassau County and ensured a majority of county Legislature seats, Mr. DiNapoli remarked that this was a ''new day in Nassau County, a new day for the Nassau County Democratic Party, a new day for people who want change.'' Seeing his party oust five Republican legislators and assume the majority, Mr. DiNapoli said that this was ''beyond my wildest expectations.''
As of Jan. 1, 2000, Democrats will hold a 10 to 9 majority in the Nassau County Legislature.
''Hard fought and hard won,'' is how Mr. DiNapoli termed the elections.
U.S. Congressman Gary Ackerman, who joined his fellow Nassau County Democrats at the election night celebration, later told the Record , ''We had a race going everywhere!'' He attributed the huge wins to both the Republican backlash and Tom DiNapoli's strong leadership. Such a victory, the Congressman explained, was ''not unusual...not unusual in Washington,'' with the Republicans not doing their jobs well and then ''the Democrats were able to attract better candidates who want to make a difference...people from various walks of life were willing to step up.''
The Republicans, he said, did an awful job, with ''their solution worse than their mess,'' and then ''they shrugged it off and passed the cost on to the voters.'' The message ''did not resonate well with the voters...and their vote said that the Republicans are no longer capable of governing,'' said Rep. Ackerman.
Rep. Ackerman also noted that those displeased with the Republican county government had only to look toward a town like North Hempstead, where the town was doing well ''with strong Democratic leadership.''
''A decisive victory,'' exclaimed Lee Seeman, New York State committeewoman and 16th Assembly district leader. ''This is a dream which became reality in the last year of this century,'' she said, proudly adding, ''Above all, the man who brought everything together for the Nassau County Democrats is Tom DiNapoli, a true hero for the Democratic Party.''
Local Democratic activist Robert Zimmerman joined the praise for Mr. DiNapoli: ''Tom provided extraordinary leadership and vision in the way he planned this campaign...This was a revolution in Nassau County...'' Mr. Zimmerman added praise for the Newburger team, stating, ''Great Neck can take special pride in the fact that May Newburger's Town of North Hempstead government served as a role model of how Democrats now stand for fiscal accountability and fiscal achievements.''
Jubilant though he was, Great Neck's Tom DiNapoli, who is also the 16th District assemblymember, said that he and his party members are ''humble,'' delighted with the ''level of confidence in the new Nassau County Democratic Party.'' During the press conference, he also assured that though there are ''tough, tough challenges ahead...not of our making,'' the Democrats ''will take nothing for granted'' and ''will not let the people down.''
Rep. Ackerman spoke of the county Democrats ''inheriting a huge mess...a tax increase...the property tax....'' He stressed that they must come up with a program, they must sell it, and ''there must be compromises.'' And, he said, ''if the Republicans are smart,'' they will work with the Democrats in the county Legislature. Rep. Ackerman added that ''the people must be patient...it took a long time to get into this mess...''
As for the legislators, ''the key is to do right for the people they represent,'' he said. And speaking of the legislators, Rep. Ackerman referred to Great Neck's legislator Lisanne Altmann and current minority leader, legislator Judy Jacobs, calling them ''the dynamic duo.''
Looking very dynamic and ready for action just the day after the elections, and describing herself as ''energized,'' Great Neck's re-elected Democratic legislator Lisanne Altmann is ready to reach out to the Republicans. ''It's something I have always wanted,'' she said, as she spoke of how the Republicans in power ''violated the trust of the people in Nassau County.''
Ms. Altmann, who may well be the next deputy majority leader in the Legislature, said that in her coming term she plans to focus on the redevelopment of the Lockheed Martin site in Lake Success, concentrating on the tax benefits and the environment. County-wide, she is looking to ''making the budget work,'' and her list of priorities includes looking at county buildings and the computer system, and modernizing operations ''so the county runs like a business.''
Said Ms. Altmann, ''The voters told us to fix this and we are going to do it!''
Both Mr. DiNapoli and re-elected legislator Judy Jacobs spoke of working with everyone, with all of the constituency, ''including the Republican Party.'' Mr. DiNapoli said that the ''fiscal distress needs all hands on deck...needs openness and inclusion...'' He added that the Democrats have ''straightened out our act and we're up to the task.''
As for Ms. Jacobs, who is touted as the next majority leader in the Legislature, she stated that the Democratic legislators are all set to go. ''We always had an agenda,'' she said, and she spoke of the former Democratic minority having ''planted the seeds'' of much legislative work, although they never received the credit.
''The people have spoken,'' said Ms. Jacobs. ''You can't run a government leaving people out and disenfranchising Democrats; people saw through...,'' she added, also noting the ''arrogance'' of the Republican legislators. ''The people of Nassau County deserve no less than honest and forthright government,'' stated Ms. Jacobs. ''The people can't understand how the county got in this position.''
And speaking of how the Suffolk County legislators all work together, Ms. Jacobs said that if the Nassau Republicans do not respond when the Nassau Democrats reach out, ''then the people will speak out again in two years.'' She stressed that her party is not vindictive, but they do want to ''examine Nassau County's executive branch.'' The plan is to do a ''line-by-line justification'' of all county positions, as well as looking at the issue of county cars. ''We want to take a realistic approach to cut waste,'' said Ms. Jacobs. ''The Republicans have gone too long unchecked.''
Judy Jacobs also talked of looking at the new 1 percent real estate transfer tax. Stating that all of the Democratic legislators had been opposed to the tax, she explained that there is a sunset date of Jan. 1, 2001, and the Democrats are ''committed to repeal.''
Among the other legislators who spoke at the press conference was newly-elected seventh district legislator Jeff Toback, who beat the Republican presiding officer Bruce Blakeman. Mr. Toback was not surprised at his win, having canvassed his district repeatedly and having heard the complaints about the Republicans. ''Change is in the air in Nassau County,'' Mr. Toback said after accepting his new position.
Speaking of how it has been 100 years since the Democrats had an opportunity to head the county's legislative branch, Tom DiNapoli stated, ''What a great way to end a century and start a new one!''
As for the future, when asked about the 2001 county executive race and any possible personal aspirations, Mr. DiNapoli stated that there are now ''quite a number of outstanding Democrats (who might be up for the job).'' He assured, ''We will have a strong slate.''
For the work ahead, Mr. DiNapoli was already talking about a 10-point plan for fiscal recovery in Nassau County. He reported that Hillary Clinton had called that morning, with congratulations and to offer assistance in locating resources dedicated to municipal finances.
''We will implement what we ran on,'' promised Tom DiNapoli.
The Town of North Hempstead win was every bit as sweeping and exciting as that of the county. The ''Newburger Team'' won the town, ''with an openness in that town's government like never before,'' according to Mr. DiNapoli.
''A tremendous landslide in North Hempstead,'' he exclaimed.
Town Supervisor May Newburger was easily returned to office, along with town board members Doreen Banks and Tony D'Urso, and Town Receiver of Taxes Ann Galante. And they brought with them a new Democratic town clerk, Michelle Schimel, a Great Neck resident, along with Supervisor Newburger.
''We ran as a team and our numbers were close together,'' said a delighted Supervisor Newburger, in an interview with the Great Neck Record, less than 24 hours after her victory. ''People were fed up and they voted the line,'' she reported, explaining why she felt so many Republicans came over to the Democrats. ''The people were told endless lies (by the Republicans),'' said Ms. Newburger, ''and they were glad to hear a little bit of the truth for a change (from the Democrats).''
As for the future, the supervisor said that it is ''most important for us to sustain the fiscal situation and move ahead...''
Thrilled with her first win, new Town Clerk Michelle Schimel said she was ''excited, relieved, and exhausted.'' It was all pure ''fun'' for her. ''What a victory...really to the end,'' she said. Excitement ringing in her voice, Ms. Schimel stated, ''I think we deserved to win...If there is any justice, I thought we would win.''