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Republicans Take Control of Legislature

Maintain Stronghold in Hempstead Town,

County Exec Race Not Yet Called

(Editor’s Note: The election numbers contained in this story were from the Nassau County Board of Elections and were still unofficial as of press time.)
Residents headed for the polls on this past Tuesday, Election Day, to vote for the candidates of their choice.

Nassau County
As it currently stands, the county executive race 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 Nassau County Board of Elections no later than Nov. 10. It could be at least two weeks before a county executive is declared.
Incumbent and Democratic, Independent and Working Families candidate Tom Suozzi received 118,111 votes, Republican and Tax Revolt Party candidate Mangano received 117,874 votes and Conservative challenger Steven Hansen received 9,552 votes.
In a press conference Wednesday, Suozzi called the dead-heat race a sign of issues larger than his contest with Mangano.
“People are mad as hell about property taxes,” he said. “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.”
Suozzi said that he was not shocked by the close race and that he believed it was 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,” he added. “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. If I am 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.”
“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.”
As of press time, it appeared that Republican challenger George Maragos had defeated incumbent Democrat Howard Weitzman. Maragos received 115,473 votes; 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. The comptroller term is 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.
In the 13th Legislative District, Republican incumbent Legislator Norma L. Gonsalves defeated Democratic challenger Patricia Maher and Working Family Party challenger Stephanie Ovadia.
Gonsalves, who was also running on the Conservative and Independence Party lines, received 9,664 votes, Maher received 3,843 votes and Ovadia garnered 391 votes.
A count of absentee ballots will also determine the result of the heated 14th Legislative District race between Democratic incumbent Legislator Dave Mejias and Republican challenger Joseph Belesi. Belesi, who was also running on the Conservative Party Line, received 7,184 votes and Mejias, who was also running on the Independence and Working Families party lines, received 7,156 votes.
“I’m cautiously optimistic,” Belesi said. “I think we have the votes and we took two seats in the legislature this year.”
“I am grateful for all of the support I have received and I am optimistic that when all the votes are counted I will continue to have the honor of representing the hard working families from my hometown,” Mejias said.
In the 15th Legislative District, Republican incumbent Legislator Dennis Dunne, Sr. defeated Democratic challenger Glenn Stephenson.
Dunne, who was also running on the Conservative and Independence Party lines, received 10,312 votes, and Stephenson, who was also running on the Working Families Party line, received 3,430 votes.
In the 17th Legislative District, Republican Rose Marie Walker defeated Democratic candidate Arshad Majid.
Walker, who was also running on the Conservative and Independence Party lines, received 9,889 votes, and Majid, who was also running on the Working Families Party line, 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 2010.
On the Democrats losing the legislative majority for the first time since 1999, Presiding Officer Diane Yatauro (D-Glen Cove) said, “Political winds are often influenced by prevailing socio-economic conditions. Last night we witnessed significant voter opposition to incumbents, which severely affected many Democrats. 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 tax payers across the nation.
“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 re-taking the legislative majority, I pledge to continue to work toward bringing financial stability to our county government.”
Peter J. Schmitt (R-Massapequa) has served as Minority Leader in the legislature since 1999. On Tuesday, Schmitt was re-elected in his district.
“We are thrilled to be taking over the majority,” Schmitt said. “We look forward to doing what we told the residents we would do. We are going to repeal that home energy tax and we’re going to cut spending and we are going to repair the institutional integrity of the legislature.”
Town of Hempstead
Despite strong Democratic opposition, Republican incumbents won the Hempstead Town supervisor, town clerk and two council seats.
In the race for Hempstead supervisor, residents returned incumbent Supervisor Kate Murray to a fourth term in office. Murray, who ran on the Republican and Conservative Party lines, received 82,265 votes while her challenger, Democratic and Working Families candidate Kristen McElroy, received 44,530 votes. Supervisor terms are two years.
“I want to thank all the volunteers who worked for my re-election and all the residents who exercised their right to vote,” said Supervisor Kate Murray
Hempstead Town residents also voted for a councilmember for the 6th District. Republican Gary Hudes defeated Democratic challenger Matt Hynes, 17,784 to 6,364 votes, respectively. Councilmember terms are four years.
In the race for Hempstead Town Clerk, incumbent Mark Bonilla, who ran on the Republican, Conservative, Independent and Working Family Party lines, defeated Democratic Party candidate Anthony Rattoballi. Bonilla garnered 79,772 votes and Rattoballi received 42,951 votes. Town clerk terms are two years.