Nassau 13th District: N. Gonsalves, P. Maher, S. Ovadia

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A political newcomer is trying to unseat a longtime Republican legislator in the 13th Legislative District.

Democrat Patricia Maher, 49, is taking on Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow), who has been elected to the seat six times in the past 12 years.

If re-elected, Gonsalves, 75, a retired New York City teacher, said she would re-evaluate the tax assessment system so the county doesn't continue to pay out millions of dollars in refunds, and she would work to repeal the 2.5 percent county home energy tax.

"It's imperative that when we think about trying to stabilize the budget, we don't do it on the backs of the homeowners," Gonsalves said.

She said she also would work to preserve more land in the district indefinitely and keep it from being sold, as was done recently with the Roosevelt Preserve.

"From day one when I became a legislator, I was a champion for the environment," said Gonsalves, a 45-year resident of East Meadow. "We can't ask our residents to vote on environmental bonds and then sell perpetually preserved land."

Maher, the director of development and community relations for the Epilepsy Foundation of Long Island, said that if elected, she would scrutinize the county budget to find areas of wasteful spending, such as duplicate services.

"I'm not a rubber stamp," said Maher, a lifelong resident of East Meadow.

To boost the county's economy, Maher said she would work to make the permitting process easier for companies that want to build on Long Island.

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"Growth goes hand in hand with lowering taxes," she said.

If elected, Maher said, she would use the salary that she would earn as a legislator and use it to open a community office. The office, she said, would have a part-time staffer and be open on evenings and weekends.

"The salary is not what I'm doing it for," Maher said. "What I can do is make [government] more personal."

A third candidate for the seat, running on the Working Families Party line, is Stephanie Ovadia of East Meadow. She did not respond to calls about her candidacy.

In the district, which includes East Meadow-Salisbury, and portions of North Bellmore, Levittown and North Merrick, Republicans have a slight advantage over the Democrats: There are 20,875 registered Republicans, 16,296 registered Democrats and 10,472 unaffiliated voters.

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