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Long IslandColumnistsJoye Brown

Corruption issue registers with Nassau voters in race for district attorney

Nassau County district attorney candidates Madeline Singas and

Nassau County district attorney candidates Madeline Singas and Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray appear at a voters forum hosted by the Garden City Chamber of Commerce at the Garden City Hotel Sept. 30, 2015. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

It's worth noting that poll respondents in Nassau cite fighting political corruption as the key issue for the county's next district attorney.

I could find no instance, in earlier Nassau or Suffolk DA races, where a Newsday poll specifically asked about political corruption, so there's no way to trend the newest poll results.

But that hardly negates them.

A Newsday/News 12/Siena College poll released Monday had 47 percent of respondents cite corruption as the primary issue in Nassau's DA race.

That's just shy of half the total 404 likely Nassau voters in a poll that also -- surprisingly -- put well-known Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray a mere 6 points ahead of her lesser known opponent, Madeline Singas, Nassau's unelected acting district attorney who has never held elective office. The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

The poll was based on responses from a sample of Nassau residents that included more Republicans than Democrats, slightly more who characterized themselves as moderate rather than conservative, with liberals as the smallest bloc.

The majority of those polled had incomes of $50,000 to more than $100,000. Most were women. And 60 percent are 55 or older.

Taken together, the respondents as a group appear to be part of Nassau's bedrock -- residents who consistently make it their business to vote.

In 1999, those residents -- angered over the embarrassment of one of the richest counties in the United States falling to one level above junk status in the Wall Street bond market -- gave Democrats their first legislative majority in 70 years.

But after a decade of Democratic rule in the legislature and the county executive's office, residents rebelled again, restoring control to Republicans.

What's happening in Nassau right now?

Are residents responding to months of Newsday reporting on county contracting practices? The federal indictment of State Sen. Dean Skelos, who once was dean of Long Island's Senate delegation, and his son, Adam?

Is it reports about trips for County Executive Edward Mangano allegedly funded by a longtime friend, who -- Mangano says, without his input -- ended up getting no-bid work providing food to personnel at the county's emergency services center?

Was it the fact that not one, but two federal prosecutors have ongoing corruption probes in Nassau, and Suffolk?

All of the above?

The why, actually means less than the recognition that business as usual has to change on Long Island.

When asked in polls about issues during campaigns, Islanders -- for decades -- always listed property taxes as the number one issue.

Are residents now considering whether there's a link between corruption and taxes? How taxpayer money is being funneled to politically connected vendors? Perhaps the almost 50 percent of Nassau voters who cited corruption as the main issue in the DA's race are considering such things now.

But the question remains: What are they, and by extension the rest of us, willing to do about it?

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