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Long IslandNassau

District attorney, comptroller and other races on tap in Nassau elections

In towns across Long Island, residents will take

In towns across Long Island, residents will take to the polls on Nov. 5. Credit: AP

While the race for Nassau County executive may have the highest profile, other countywide races are on tap in the general election, including district attorney, comptroller and clerk. In addition, all 19 districts of the newly configured county legislature will be voted on in Tuesday's election.

Popular Democrat incumbent District Attorney Kathleen Rice is being challenged by Republican judicial clerk Howard Sturim.

Rice, 48, who was first elected in 2005, said her administration has made her office a national model for how to prevent driving while intoxicated. She also said she has reduced plea bargaining with criminals and has been an independent prosecutor willing to go after public officials.

"I've convicted 80 public officials since being in office. I'm trying to restore public trust in elected officials," said Rice, president of the state's District Attorney's Association and co-chair of the state's Moreland Commission on public corruption.

Sturim, 54, principal law clerk for County Court Judge Alan Honorof, said he would prioritize combating violent crime. He took the clerk job after rising through the ranks to major offense bureau chief in the pre-Rice district attorney's office.

"Almost 70 percent of those charged with violent crimes end up pleaded down under Rice," Sturim said. "In order to be safe, the cost of doing business [crime] can't be low but must be high."

In other countywide races, GOP Comptroller George Maragos is being challenged by his two-term predecessor, Democrat Howard Weitzman. And Republican County Clerk Maureen O'Connell is running against newcomer Laura Gillen, a Democrat and lawyer.

Republicans control Nassau's unicameral legislature with a 10-9 majority. This year, under the once-a-decade redistricting to make legislative districts conform with population changes, the two-year term body rearranged them to further favor Republican chances to win.

"I am hoping that once this election is over, we can work together for the good of the public and put aside politics," said Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow).

Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said the GOP majority just "rubber-stamps Count Executive Edward Mangano's policies," and that he believes the "Democrats could recapture the majority."

Democrats start off with five seats in which they are not even running candidates. Democrats cross-endorsed registered Democrat Denise Ford, but Republicans also count Ford as part of their majority.

The unchallenged districts are the 6th and the 12th, where the Democrats drafted two individuals who did not live in those districts and were removed from the ballot by judges, and in the 8th and 14th, where their candidates did not file sufficient valid designating petitions, according to Democratic Elections Commissioner William Biamonte.

One race that could be tight is in the 5th district, where Democrat Laura Curran, a Baldwin school board member and former Suozzi aide, will be battling Republican Debra Pugliese of Baldwin, a chamber of commerce secretary who serves on the St. Christopher school board. The 19th district is another, where Democrat Dave Denenberg, a 12-year legislator, who saw his district made into a majority Republican one by redistricting, will face Steven Rhoads of Bellmore, a lawyer who lost to the incumbent in 2005.

The 16th district's Judy Jacobs of Woodbury, the former Democratic presiding officer and original member of the 18-year-old legislature, will face Louis Imbroto of Plainview, who is an attorney with Garden City law firm for which Nassau GOP chairman Joseph Mondello is "of counsel."

Jacobs, who lost some of her district, including Woodbury, through redistricting, said she is hopeful that "my past success will be continued in the future."

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