Written by Victoria Caruso-Davis Friday, 11 September 2009 00:00
The race for the 2nd L.D., which encompasses communities within the Towns of Hempstead and North Hempstead and has maintained Democratic Party leadership under Corbin since the legislature’s inception nearly 15 years ago, began to heat up in May. At this time, Corbin announced he would seek election to his eighth consecutive term despite legal woes that included an arrest on charges that he allegedly evaded some $226,000 in income taxes and lied to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) special agents; Corbin has pleaded not guilty and, as of press time, is expected to go to trial in October.
In the wake of his arrest, Corbin’s quest for re-election has lacked party support and, in July, it appeared a four-way race had ensued. All that changed in August, however, when Pablo Sinclair, a civic activist also from Westbury, was kicked off the ballot after a challenge deemed some 726 of his 822 signatures invalid and Westbury attorney Gregory Lewis, who was rumored to be the party’s choice, withdrew on his own accord leaving Corbin and Troiano to go head-to-head.
With both the county seat and the town seat up for re-election at the same time, Troiano, under Election Law, was required to withdraw his bid for re-election to the town council; therefore, should he lose the primary, Troiano cannot resume his town board re-election bid. Last month, Troiano’s Committee on Vacancies appointed Westbury resident Viviana Russell, 37, as the Democratic candidate for North Hempstead Town this November.
The Westbury Times recently sat down with both candidates to discuss the upcoming primary. Their profiles are as follows:
Roger Corbin has resided in the 2nd L.D. for over 50 years. He graduated Westbury High School in 1964 and attended Yankton University in South Dakota before enlisting in the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War. After his service, Corbin went on to finish college, majoring in business law at Pace University. Prior to being elected to the Nassau County Legislature in 1995, where he served as Deputy Presiding Officer from 1999-2007, Corbin was employed as a branch manager with the New York City Off-Track Betting (OTB) Corporation for 31 years. He also served as a community liaison for the North Shore Health System.
Despite his recent legal woes – and limited party support – Corbin said not running for re-election was never an option. “I am not a wounded duck. No one needs to come and clip my wings,” said Corbin, adding that due to the pending trial he cannot say much about the charges against him.
Corbin told The Westbury Times that he is running on his 14-year plus history in the legislature, which, he said, “speaks for itself.”
Over the past decade, Corbin has co-sponsored the Pesticide Notification Law and voted in favor of legislation to create the Open Space and Parks Advisory Committee. He also approved a bill requiring contractors who do business with the county to use minority/women-owned businesses for at least 15 percent of the contracted amount and led the countywide smoking ban.
“There are so many things that I have accomplished over the years and hopefully I can continue to do so, going forward,” he said.
Additionally, as legislator, Corbin sponsored the county’s 2004 Charity Bill, a law stating that everyone, regardless of whether or not they have insurance, can receive medical care at any hospital within the county and, most recently, approved a lease agreement to establish a local and accessible Veterans’ Administration clinic in Nassau County; a 11,000-square-foot clinic at Nassau University Medical Center is expected to open in February 2010.
“I have done so many things in the district, whether in my jurisdiction or not. When someone calls my office, they get a response and the help they need, even if it’s a town issue. Ask the average citizen in New Cassel if they can say the same thing,” said Corbin, adding, “People know what I have done. My record is second to none.”To those voters on the fence, Corbin said, “Look at my record and then judge; don’t judge me by the way ambitious folks are trying to take advantage of a situation. Look at my record versus [my opponent’s] and ask yourself who you can trust and who is best qualified to represent the people of the 2nd Legislative District.”
Robert Troiano, Jr., a resident of the 2nd L.D. for over 45 years, graduated from Westbury High School before going on to earn a bachelor’s from Brown University and a master’s from Stanford University. Prior to being elected to the North Hempstead Town Board in 2003 with the implementation of council districts, Troiano was employed with Prudential Securities. He also served on the Westbury Board of Education and the Community Development Agency.
This year’s primary does not mark the first time Troiano – who has lived on the same Westbury street as Corbin for nearly two decades – has found himself up against his neighbor; in 2003, Troiano defeated Corbin’s wife Regina in a Democratic primary for town board. Troiano told The Westbury Times that his challenge of Corbin for the party ticket isn’t “personal” but admitted the charges against the incumbent are a factor this time around. According to Troiano, he is running to provide the district’s constituents with a choice.
“I’ve been asked before to run against Roger and have declined those opportunities because I always felt this was Roger’s position but this time is different; the charges and the potential loss of leadership trumps everything else,” Troiano said, continuing, “If convicted, Roger will be removed from office immediately. If that were to happen, there would have to be a special election and the residents of the district would not have the opportunity to choose who would run in that election. The bosses of both parties would choose that person.” Troiano believes the “voters have the right to choose who will represent them. It shouldn’t be someone living outside the district choosing for them.”
The candidate said he is running on a platform of “experience and results.” A seat on the legislature, he said, will provide him with the “opportunity to bring the skills and experiences as a governing member in the Town of North Hempstead to a wider region and accomplish more for the residents…” As town councilman, Troiano said he has worked hard for the “revitalization of Prospect Avenue, the reconstruction of Prospect Avenue and the construction of a $25 million community center” in New Cassel; a significant amount of the center’s funding will come through a town agreement established with Neptune.
Troiano said giving up his bid for re-election to the town board for the risk of a primary shows “significant commitment” on his part. “I’ve got a lot at stake here,” he said, adding that, as a legislator, he will remain committed to the town as well. “I will never leave my relationships with the town behind. As a county legislator I will be able to supplement what is going on in the town with resources from the county,” said Troiano.