John Ciotti, 66, who served Nassau as a Republican legislator for 16 years and became an executive vice president at Nassau University Medical Center, suffered a fatal heart attack on Saturday morning, officials said.
“Nassau County lost a dedicated public servant today and my wife Linda and I lost a great friend,” County Executive Edward Mangano said in a statement.
Ciotti’s most important accomplishments, according to several politicians, were his offers of friendship — and a helping hand to so many, even across the aisle.
“I would say the kindness he showed to people. . . . Everybody liked him,” said Nassau Republican chairman Joseph Mondello.
During campaigns, Mondello said Ciotti, of Valley Stream, walked door-to-door, and often was invited to join his constituents for a meal.
People could count on him as a staunch Republican, he added.
“Everybody knew where he stood, and he was not ashamed of it, and he stood tall,” Mondello said. “He stood for good government, doing the right thing . . . and he was very successful at it.”
Former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato (R-N.Y.) agreed: “He cared about his county, he worked for everybody, it didn’t matter what party you were in.”
Democrats also praised Ciotti’s commitment and integrity.
Kevan Abrahams, Nassau County Democratic Minority Leader, called Ciotti a “consensus-builder.”
Former state Sen. and Legis. Craig Johnson (D-Port Washington) said he and Ciotti “worked collaboratively when we differed, and we never allowed those differences to really serve as a roadblock to getting things done.”
To Legis. Vincent Muscarella (R-West Hempstead), Ciotti was “somebody I think we all aspire to be,” and Ciotti did not run because he sought the pomp of office, he added.
“It didn’t go to his head, he wasn’t concerned about the trappings but rather what he could just do to help people,” Muscarella said.
To raise money for veterans, Ciotti, Muscarella and Hempstead Town Board member Edward Ambrosino formed a rock band, the Dogs of War.
Ciotti, a drummer, was the driving force, Muscarella said.
At one concert in 2015, the musicians, clad in different T-shirts representing the various branches of the military, played a set that included “Paint It Black” by the Rolling Stones, “Drift Away” by Dobie Gray and “I Saw Her Standing There” by The Beatles.
Ciotti won his first term in 1996 — the same year the legislature was created — according to a biography posted on the hospital’s website.
Ciotti’s many legislative leadership posts included deputy presiding officer, chairman of budget review and chairman of minority affairs.
Dr. Victor F. Politi, president and CEO of NuHealth, which operates Nassau University Medical Center, praised Ciotti’s “unending dedication to the staff at the hospital and devotion to the residents of Nassau.”
Though Mangano’s tapping him for the Nassau hospital after he lost his last election was criticized as political patronage, Muscarella said Ciotti was more than qualified to lead a team of attorneys, thanks to his background as an accountant and lawyer.
Ciotti’s family could not be reached for comment.
Saying Ciotti served Nassau residents “with great pride,” Mangano added: “I thank John’s wife, Mary Jane and their two sons, John Jr. and Matthew, for sharing John with us and for allowing him to leave behind a legacy that we can all be proud of.”