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Long IslandNassau

Nassau 14th District: Dave Mejias, Joseph Belesi

Republicans have a registration edge in the 14th District, and GOP candidate Joseph Belesi hopes that will be more meaningful in this bid - his second - to oust Democratic incumbent Dave Mejias.

"I'm working harder now than the last time, when it was all new to me. I'm doing better, reaching more people," said Belesi, a retired Nassau police sergeant who lost the 2007 race by 212 votes.

Belesi, who, like Mejias, lives in Farmingdale, said his campaign is not about personal attacks but trying to fix problems.

Mejias, who also has the Independence and Working Families lines, goes the other way.

"I ran for the legislature because Republican machine politics was bankrupting Nassau County, and Joe Belesi worked closely with [former County Executive] Tom Gulotta to orchestrate the sweetheart deals that broke the county," said Mejias.

"We're still paying for those deals, and Belesi is the poster child for them. He draws a disability pension and gets paid by the legislative minority."

Mejias, a lawyer, said he is running on his record, which includes no-tax-increase budgets for five of the past six years.

"And last year I took on the Republicans and my own party to defeat big legislative pay raises," he said.

Chairman of the Health Committee, Mejias, 39, is a Parents for Megan's Law 2009 Champion for Children, he said, because he has sponsored tough local laws on convicted sex offenders living in Nassau.

The two-term legislator said he will keep fighting tax increases by finding ways to cut spending, create jobs and to make living in Nassau more affordable.

Belesi, who is endorsed by Nassau's detectives and superior officer unions and also has the Conservative line, said: "Nassau was once a beautiful place with great roads, schools and beaches, but that's now declining." He added that Nassau residents pay more and get less.

Belesi, a $34-a-hour, part-time aide to Nassau minority leader Peter Schmitt of Massapequa, called Nassau's new 2.5 percent home energy tax - which Republicans said is equivalent to a 4.5 percent annual property tax hike - "an equal opportunity destroyer."

He said property taxes are up and housing values down.

"I want to serve my local district. I don't want to use it as a springboard to any other office," Belesi said, apparently referring to Mejias' 2006 failed bid to unseat Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford).

Mejias is single, and Belesi is married with three children.

Registered Republicans outnumber Democrats in the district 18,702 to 15,105.

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