Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos declares victory over challenger Howard...

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos declares victory over challenger Howard Weitzman in Westbury. (Nov. 5, 2013) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Republican incumbent Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos defeated his Democratic predecessor Howard Weitzman in an election rematch last night.

Pre-election polls had showed the two neck-and-neck for the four-year job overseeing the county payroll, monitoring Nassau's budget and auditing spending. But Maragos pulled nearly 53 percent of the vote to Weitzman's 47 percent, according to unofficial returns.

"This is a great victory for the residents of Nassau County," Maragos said. "They spoke loud and clear, and we will hold the line on taxes for the next four years to protect them and improve our economy."

Maragos, 64, who headed a Manhattan financial technology firm, defeated two-term incumbent Weitzman four years ago when Republican County Executive Edward Mangano beat two-term incumbent Thomas Suozzi, a Democrat. Weitzman, 67, a CPA and former partner in the KPMG accounting firm, said he has fully recovered from an illness that hampered his campaigning in 2009.

Democratic Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice, 48, a two-term incumbent, defeated Republican challenger Howard Sturim, 54, principal law clerk for County Court Judge Alan Honorof. "I am gratified by the overwhelming level of support I have received from across the entire county," Rice said.

Republican County Clerk Maureen O'Connell, 62, a former state assemblywoman from East Williston, won a third term, rebuffing Democrat Laura Gillen, 44, a commercial litigator from Rockville Centre.

In Suffolk, the countywide races -- except for judicial posts -- had been effectively decided before the election. Democratic District Attorney Thomas Spota, Republican Treasurer Angie Carpenter and Conservative Sheriff Vincent DeMarco were cross-endorsed by both major and minor parties and had no opposition.

In Nassau, Weitzman said Tuesday night, "The message that Ed Mangano brought -- that he did not raise taxes -- was simple and easy to understand. We tried to point out the differences, but our message was more nuanced and difficult to get across."

Weitzman said he is likely done with running for office. "I never say never, but this is as close as I come," he said.

Maragos joined with Mangano during the campaign in touting the administration's repeal of the county home energy tax while holding the line on county property taxes. They also took credit for reducing unemployment and bringing jobs to Nassau after the 2007-09 national recession.

Maragos accused Weitzman of "doing nothing" while Suozzi hiked taxes and debt. Weitzman contended Maragos was too much of a Mangano team member to provide independent oversight.

With Robert Brodsky

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