Richard J. Nicolello has held the 9th District seat since the legislature's inception in 1996. His commitment to the beliefs of the county's GOP hasn't wavered. He criticizes the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, saying it has become too political, and casts the county's fiscal health in a positive light. The New Hyde Park resident highlights accomplishments of the GOP majority rather than what he has done on his own. Nicolello says he favors transit-oriented development in specific neighborhoods, such as Mineola.

Nicolello's opponent, Mal Nathan, is the chief bay constable in North Hempstead, handling the harbor patrol and dolphin and turtle rescues. Nathan recognizes the county's challenges and his kindness and folksy take are refreshing. But Nathan, 52, is a novice, and the Williston Park resident lacks the necessary understanding and knowledge of government and finance.

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Nicolello, 55, is smart and respected. But he rarely challenges the majority or raises a new strategy. He should start to think and work beyond the party line.

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Newsday endorses Nicolello.