Nassau County Democrats have an opportunity on Election Day to widen their 51-seat margin in the State Assembly by picking up a newly created seat in Elmont, while GOP candidates across the county are pressing upstart campaigns against incumbent lawmakers.
In one of the county's most highly watched races, Democrat Michaelle Solages, of Elmont, a librarian at Hofstra University, is challenging GOP candidate Sean Wright, a deputy attorney for the Town of Hempstead, in the new 22nd District, created in the decennial reapportionment.
The candidates, neither of whom have previously run for public office, are focused on developing Belmont Park.
Solages, 27, whose brother, Carrié, is a first-term Nassau legislator, would support development that would "benefit the neighboring communities with jobs and revenue without sacrificing the quality of life."
Wright, 43, of North Valley Stream, has suggested transforming Belmont into a walkable mall or a soccer stadium, but has said he would first consult with "the best and brightest minds to [find out] what is viable."
GOP officials are pinning their best hopes for an upset in the 20th District in Long Beach, where Democratic Assemb. Harvey Weisenberg, 78, who has been in office since 1989, is facing Republican David Sussman, 62, a member of the Lawrence school district board since 1995.
Weisenberg, a lifelong Long Beach resident, argues that he has the ability to work across the aisle to get legislation passed. "I am one of the few legislators in the State of New York that functions on a bipartisan basis," he said.
Sussman, a Lawrence resident who works as a urologist, is campaigning to lower taxes and attract businesses to Nassau. "We have to create a business-friendly climate," he said.
Democrats, meanwhile, are eyeing an upset in the redrawn 19th District. Democrat Gary Port, a divorce attorney who ran an unsuccessful campaign last year for Hempstead Town supervisor, is challenging Republican Edward Ra, who is seeking a second term.
Ra, 30, of Franklin Square, said he's played a role in helping to get the state's budget woes under control. "I've been part of a finely functioning state government that has finally stopped spending more than we had," Ra said.
But Port, 50 of West Hempstead, said Long Island has not been well served by the State Legislature, including by members of his own party.
"I'm concerned that the Democrats in the Assembly care more about the five boroughs than they do about the two counties," Port said. "Everyone here on Long Island feels like we're the redheaded stepchildren."
With Patrick Whittle
and Aisha Al-Muslim
Following are the State Assembly races in Nassau:
District 9 -- Assemb. Joseph S. Saladino (R,I,C,TRP); Jay S. Cherlin (D)
District 13 -- Assemb. Charles D. Lavine (D,I,WF); Louis Imbroto (R,C); Jeffrey J. Peress (Green)
District 14 -- Assemb. David G. McDonough (R,I,C,TRP); John E. Brooks (D,WF)
District 15 -- Assemb. Michael A. Montesano (R,I,C,TRP); Mario Ferone (D)
District 16 -- Assemb. Michelle Schimel (D,I,WF); Richard E. Stiek (R,C)
District 17 -- Assemb. Thomas McKevitt (R,I,C,TRP); Kevin C. Brady (D,WF)
District 18 -- Assemb. Earlene Hooper (D,I,); Elton E. McCabe (R,C)
District 19 -- Assemb. Edward P. Ra (R,I,C,TRP); Gary Port (D)
District 20 -- Assemb. Harvey Weisenberg (D,I,WF); David J. Sussman (R,C,TRP)
District 21 -- Assemb. Brian F. Curran (R,I,C,TRP); Jeffrey S. Friedman (D,WF)
District 22 -- Michaelle C. Solages (D,WF); Sean Wright (R,I,C, TRP)