It's youth versus experience in the 8th District race for Nassau County Legislature, and both candidates say their age is an advantage.
Democratic challenger Gaspare Tumminello, 26, a deputy county contracting commissioner, says he wants to bring what he calls "youth transparency" to the legislature. He likes the phrase, repeats it often and explains its meaning as follows:
"I've been asked why young people don't get involved earlier in politics instead of waiting until they get older to make a difference," Tumminello said. "I want to bring new ideas at a time when you need these young ideas to move forward.
"Many legislators vote along party lines. What I want to do is completely different: hold a town hall meeting and have voters and residents vote before I go back to the legislature," he said.
Incumbent Republican Vincent Muscarella, 55, a Franklin Square resident and an attorney in private practice, noted that he has been a legislator since 1995 and served in the state Assembly for four years before that.
"Having been a longtime resident of the district, having established a law practice in the district, having been involved with a number of organizations for more than 30 years, I think, to a certain extent, experience counts," Muscarella said.
Both candidates are members of Sons of Italy America Lodge 2245 in Franklin Square, and neither candidate would criticize the other during separate interviews.
But Tumminello was the more enthusiastic of the two in his support for the proposed $3.8-billion Lighthouse Development around the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, to the east of the West Hempstead district.
"More revenue will increase our budget and spending power, allowing the county to recycle money back into the community, creating lower taxes," Tumminello said of the megaproject.
"I'm a bit more reserved about it," Muscarella said, adding the Town of Hempstead still has to approve the zoning required for the project, and the lease for the county-owned property will then come to the legislature.
"Without knowing what the town will approve, it's a bit difficult to say whether I will be voting for or against the lease," Muscarella said. "It has to be smart development that supplements the surrounding area, but it cannot supplant housing and economic activity in the surrounding area."
There are 25,012 Republicans and 13,191 Democrats in the district, which includes Garden City, Garden City South, Stewart Manor, WestWest HempsteadHempstead, Franklin Square and portions of Elmont and Floral Park.