Democrats recapture Long Beach council

A sense of normalcy returned to Nassau Democrats on Tuesday when the party recaptured its strongest base -- the city of Long Beach.

Democrats, who had led this 35,000-person city by the sea for 30 years and have a more than 2-1 majority over Republicans among registered voters, lost control in 2003, won it back in 2005 and then lost again to the GOP in 2007.

"The Republicans lost [Tuesday] because they did not know what they were doing and hurt the city," Long Beach Democratic chairman Michael Zapson, a former president of the city's five-member council, said Wednesday.

He gave two examples: "They promoted all of these events in the city, like big surfing contests, then suggested that people park at Jones Beach and take a bus into our city. That was crazy . . . Then, they failed to maintain the boardwalk, one of the city's primary attractions."

James Moriarty, the city's GOP chairman and a former council member, dismissed Zapson's criticisms and said the Republicans' loss was simply a matter of people deciding to throw the incumbents out. "But we had good people on the council, and in two years, residents will realize that and go Republican again," he said.

Long Beach elects three council members every two years. The one with the lowest number of votes serves for two years; the others for four. Election officials said only about 30 percent of more than 23,000 registered voters went to city polls Tuesday.

The defeated Republicans were Marvin Weiss, Mona Goodman and Thomas Sofield Jr. -- although Sofield is a registered Democrat. Goodman and Sofield were incumbents.

The victorious Democrats were incumbent Leonicio Torres, 59; Francine Adelson, 59, a real estate agent and 10-year library board veteran; and Scott Mandel, 37, a local lawyer, who appears to be the two-year winner.

Democrat Michael Fagen remains on the council, as does one Republican -- John McLaughlin.

Three city posts are expected to change in January: city manager, now held by Charles Theofan; acting police commissioner, now held by Thomas Sofield Sr.; and the city council president, now held by Sofield Jr., the acting commissioner's son.

Zapson said the Democrats are forming a transition team.

Adelson said she is insistent that the city manager live Long Beach. Theofan is listed as living in Freeport. "We'll look in Long Beach first, but whoever gets it will have to live here," she said.

Mandel said the Democrats will be working to give the residents "a more responsive government and a more civil attitude coming out of City Hall."

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