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Senate Race Set

Two local elected officials from opposite ends of the political spectrum have announced their candidacy for a state Senate seat vacant since late December.

With Democrats and Republicans vying for a majority in the Senate, both parties announced their picks for the 8th district seat within days of each other; the Nassau County Republican Party tapped Massapequa Legislator Michael Venditto and the Democratic Committee put their hopes behind Merrick Legislator Dave Denenberg.  

Both contenders announced their candidacy in their districts’ respective American Legion halls. At his rally, Denenberg said he will fight for working families in Nassau and Suffolk struggling to make ends meet.

“We have a lot of work to do to make the south shore of Long Island as great as it can be,” said Denenberg at the Seaford American Legion Post 1132. “Together, from Baldwin to Wheatley Heights, from Roosevelt to Lindenhurst, it is up to us to ensure that our families are safe, that our children have access to top flight education and that our quality of life is the best in the country.”

At Venditto’s rally, held at Massapequa’s American Legion Hall Post 1066, the legislator said returning to a Republican controlled Senate seat is crucial to protecting suburban interests.

“As a lifelong resident of the area, I am honored and proud to have served many residents of this district, first as counsel to the Town Board for the Town of Hempstead and currently as a Nassau County Legislator,” Venditto said. “I look forward to being our advocate in the New York State Senate and to bringing my energy and ideas to Albany. Strong and creative thinking is needed to help relieve the tax burden on our residents and create economic opportunities for Long Island.”

The 8th district includes the communities of Roosevelt, Freeport, Baldwin, Merrick, Bellmore, Seaford, Wantagh, Amityville, North Amityville, Lindenhurst, the Massapequas, Farmingdale, Copiague and Wheatley Heights. The seat has sat vacant since Republican Charles Fuschillo Jr. stepped down Dec. 31.

Democrats currently hold a 52-48 percent advantage among registered voters.

Venditto, who currently has more than $60,000 in campagin funds on hand according to a campaign spokesman, named his efforts following Superstorm Sandy as his proudest as a legislator. Following the October 2012 storm, Venditto helped deliver desperately needed supplies and relief funds to South Shore residents. He has also welcomed medical professionals to his district to conduct health screenings and he has supported efforts to prevent drug and alcohol abuse among the community’s youth.

“Since I was elected as a County Legislator, I have made it a high priority to fight for our district to receive as much funding as possible from Nassau County and I will do the same in the State Senate on behalf of both residents and school districts in the 8th District,” said Venditto, who won a special election in his district to gain his legislative seat. Venditto ran unopposed for re-election in November after the Democratic candidate was removed from the ballot.

Denenberg, who currently has more than $125,000 in campaign funds on hand according to a campaign spokesman, said the district deserves better representation.

“We can, and will, do better,” he said. “Holding the line on property taxes, ensuring quality education and helping families and businesses in their continuing struggle to recover from Superstorm Sandy will be priorities to me. I’ve made a career out of fighting for you, and I’m not going to stop now.”

Spokesman for both candidates said they have numerous fundraising events planned for the weeks and months ahead.