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2 Republicans seek Schmitt legislative seat

Two Republicans, Michael Venditto, left, and Joanne Maglione,

Two Republicans, Michael Venditto, left, and Joanne Maglione, right, ran in the Nov. 6 special election for the county legislative seat left vacant when Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa) died unexpectedly on Oct. 3. Venditto won. Credit: Handout; Howard Schnapp

Two Republicans are running in Tuesday's special election for the county legislative seat left vacant when Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa) died unexpectedly Oct. 3.

Only one, however, is the county Republican party's candidate: Michael Venditto, 31, of Massapequa. Joanne Maglione, 42, though a registered Republican from Massapequa Park, was nominated by the Democrats to run in Nassau's most heavily Republican legislative district.

Republicans outnumber Democrats by more than 2-to-1 in the 12th District, which includes Massapequa, Massapequa Park, and portions of Seaford and of North Massapequa.

Venditto is the son of longtime Republican Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto and serves as counsel to the Republican majority on the Hempstead Town board.

Maglione is litigator for the Garden City law firm of Jaspan Schlesinger. She also worked as a deputy county attorney when Democrat Thomas Suozzi was county executive.

Nassau Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs said the party nominated Maglione because the district is heavily Republican, "and we felt having an independent Republican who might get elected was better than nominating a Democrat who wouldn't."

Venditto said the county GOP asked him to run. "I saw the prospect of becoming a county legislator as a good opportunity to give back to a community that has given so much to me," Venditto said.

Maglione said she was prompted to enter the race after her school tax bill increased by several hundred dollars -- much more than she had expected -- because of county assessment reductions to other properties. She said she would bring "an independent voice" to the gridlocked legislature, now split 9-9 between Republicans and Democrats.

"I don't owe anything to [Nassau Republican chairman] Joe Mondello," she said. "I don't owe anything to Jay Jacobs. I'm just going to represent my neighbors."

Venditto said he is a "proud Republican" and praised his father's service to the community. He added, "While I have learned a lot from my father, I'm not running on his record, I'm running on my vision . . . to ensure that Nassau remains an affordable place for families, seniors and singles to work and stay."

Venditto pointed to Maglione's Democratic connections, saying her law firm is headed by "Democratic machine" lawyer Steven Schlesinger, who does most of the Democrats' election law work.

Maglione countered that prominent Republicans also work there, including Lisa Cairo, daughter of powerful North Valley Stream GOP leader Joseph Cairo.

Both candidates want to find ways to reduce the tax burden without cutting services.

"We're a PTA family," Maglione said. "My husband stays home with the kids and I work full time. I have to balance a budget in my house."

Venditto, whose wife, Antonella, is a teacher, said his "biggest issue is affordability, making sure young people can stay here and invest in their homes and their futures."

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