Written by Victoria Caruso-Davis Friday, 06 November 2009 00:00
The voters of Nassau County have spoken.
Residents headed for the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 3 - Election Day 2009 - to vote for their candidates of choice and while some familiar faces will return to the Nassau County Legislature, some will not.
As of press time, it appeared that Nassau County Legislators Dave Mejias (14 L.D.) and Jeffrey Toback (7 L.D.), both Democrats, along with Comptroller Howard Weitzman, all Democrats, had been unseated while the fate of county executive was still unclear.
Mejias’ and Toback’s losses shift the power back into the hands of Republicans by an 11-8 majority; it’s been a decade since the GOP controlled the county legislature.
Of the change, Legislator Diane Yatauro (18th L.D.), the legislature’s current presiding officer, said, “While I am honored to have been re-elected to another term as a county legislator, I am disheartened by the loss of my party’s legislative majority. Political winds are often influenced by prevailing socioeconomic conditions.”
On election night, said Yatauro, Nassau witnessed significant voter opposition to incumbents, severely affecting the Democrats who had previously held a 10-9 majority in the legislature. “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,” she said. “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 retaking the legislative majority, I pledge to continue to work towards bringing financial stability to our county government.”
Republican Legislator Peter J. Schmitt (12th L.D.) has served as Minority Leader since 1999 and won his bid for re-election on Tuesday. In regard to the GOP regaining the majority, Schmitt said, “We are thrilled to be taking over the majority. We look forward to doing what we told the residents we would do. We are going to repeal that home energy tax, we’re going to cut spending and we are going to repair the institutional integrity of the legislature.”
The results, according to unofficial tallies provided by the Nassau County Board of Election (not including absentee ballots), are as follows:
As of press time Thursday, it was still unclear who will serve as Nassau County Executive effective Jan. 1. At the close of polls Nov. 3, incumbent Tom Suozzi, who ran on the Democratic, Independence and Working Families Party lines, had received 118,111 votes while Republican and Tax Revolt Party line candidate Ed Mangano, current legislator of the 17th L.D., received 117,874 votes.
The mere 237 votes separating the two candidates means that the final outcome will be determined through a recount and absentee ballots. 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 the Nassau County Board of Elections no later than Nov. 10.
At a press conference held Wednesday, Suozzi told members of the media that 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.
Suozzi called his 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. 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,” said Suozzi, who admitted he was not shocked by the close race and that he believed it was an example of bringing 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,” said Suozzi. “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.” Suozzi added that, if he is 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.”
In an interview with Anton Newspapers, Mangano was optimistic the end result would be in his favor. “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.”
Incumbent Kathleen Rice, the Democratic, Working Families Party and Independence Party candidate, was re-elected to her second, four-year term as Nassau County District Attorney. Rice, who received 129,508 votes, defeated
Republican and Conservative Party candidate Joy Watson, who received 109,526 votes.
As of press time, it appeared that Republican challenger George Maragos had defeated incumbent Democrat Howard Weitzman. Maragos received 115,473; Weitzman, who was bidding for his third, four-year term, received 114,897 votes. With 576 votes separating the two candidates, a spokesperson for Weitzman said the final outcome will be determined once all absentee ballots are counted. Comptroller terms are two years.
Republican Maureen O’Connell was re-elected to her second, four-year term as Nassau County Clerk. O’Connell received 142,774 votes to defeat Democratic Party candidate Carrie Solages who received 86,482 votes.
With Ed Mangano seeking a bid for county executive, the 17th Legislative District (L.D.) was up for grabs with Republican, Conservative and Independence Party candidate Rose Marie Walker, current councilwoman in the Town of Oyster Bay, defeating Democratic and Working Families Party candidate Arshad Majid. Walker received 9,889 votes; Majid received 3,420 votes. Legislator terms are two years and the Town of Oyster Bay will appoint someone to fill the remainder of Walker’s council seat when she is sworn in as legislator in January.
In the race for Oyster Bay Supervisor, residents returned incumbent Supervisor John Venditto to a sixth term in office. Venditto, who ran on the Republican, Conservative and Independence Party lines, received 43,483 votes while his challenger, Democrat Keith Scalia, received 16,158 votes. Supervisor terms are two years.
In the race for Oyster Bay Town Clerk, incumbent Steve Labriola, who ran on the Republican, Independence and Conservative Party lines, defeated Democratic Party candidate John Capobianco. Labriola garnered 39,995 votes and Capobianco received 17,872. Town clerk terms are two years.
Residents also had the opportunity to elect three of six candidates for town board. The three Republican incumbents, Chris Coschignano, Elizabeth Faughnan and Joseph Pinto defeated the three Democratic challengers Matt Meng, Erin Reilley and Doug Watson. Vote totals were as follows: Coschignano 37,975; Pinto 35, 976; Faughnan 35,889; Reilley 19, 613; Watson 18,763; and Meng 18,315. Oyster Bay Town Board terms are two years voted for at-large.