In Nassau's 16th Legislative District, seven-term incumbent Democrat and proud 70-year-old grandma Judith A. Jacobs faces a new mother and third-generation Nassau Republican who argues it's time for her age group to take the reins of power.
"It's really our battle now . . . it's for the young families," said Rebecca M. Alesia, 31. "I think there's an element of being out of touch with what people in my generation are going through."
Alesia is the daughter of Oyster Bay Planning Commissioner Jack Libert, a prominent development attorney. He once served as campaign treasurer for former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, and Alesia's grandfather, Herbert Libert, was a GOP executive leader and director of the county planning commission.
Surging Democratic enrollment has given Jacobs' party an edge of 21,463 over Republicans' 18,654 voters in the 16th, which includes Bethpage, Cove Neck, East Norwich, Jericho, Laurel Hollow, Muttontown, Oyster Bay, Oyster Bay Cove, Plainview, Syosset and Woodbury. And Jacobs won with 59 percent of the vote two years ago.
"I'm running against someone who was in charge of the finance committee that made the decisions that led the county to - in her words - the brink of financial ruin," said Alesia. Chief among those decisions, Alesia said, is replacing an elected assessor with an appointed one, as well as new sales taxes on home heating and home energy. "We need relief, not more taxes."
Jacobs, a former teacher who serves as director of community relations for the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, said she knows of no prior civic involvement by Alesia to match her fighting words, though she has the "deepest respect" for her opponent's father.
Herself a onetime civic activist who served as presiding officer and now chairs the budget review committee, Jacobs said appointing Nassau's assessor assures higher standards. She called on her challenger to spell out how she would stabilize Nassau's finances.
"Believe me, with nine grandchildren, I don't need a primer course on what is needed for young people and their children . . . . But everything has to be paid for."
Alesia said she has gone through four cases of water and worn out a pair of sneakers going door to door to meet voters since June.
"As a challenger, I don't have a big war chest, and my feet and my smile are about all I've really got to invest," she said.