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Long IslandPolitics

Ill Nassau comptroller struggling to keep seat

Nassau County Comptroller Howard Weitzman, an aggressive auditor of county and other agencies during two terms in office, appeared to be struggling to retain office last night, as he sought re-election while recovering from a blood disorder.

The illness forced Weitzman into a wheelchair and kept him out of the public eye for much of the campaign against his Republican challenger, businessman George Maragos of Russell Gardens.

Maragos held a slight lead with almost all election districts reporting late last night.

In the county clerk race, Maureen O'Connell - the only Republican who holds countywide office in Nassau - had a wide lead over Elmont attorney Carrie Solages and claimed victory.

"It is an honor to have the trust of the people and to be re-elected," O'Connell said.

Maragos, chief executive of SDS Financial Technologies in Manhattan, financed his own campaign and said Weitzman should have opposed some budget moves by County Executive Thomas Suozzi, such as burning through reserve funds and continuing to borrow to pay property tax refunds.

In addition, Maragos questioned whether Weitzman was still up for the job after being diagnosed with his illness.

The comptroller's office was renovated to accommodate Weitzman's wheelchair, but he was rarely seen in public since he began treatment for the disorder in June.

Weitzman's staff refused to say how often he had been in the office in October and did not respond to requests seeking both a list of public events he had attended or access to Weitzman himself.

Weitzman's campaign spokesman said the comptroller had been in the office about as much as he had been in the weeks before the 2005 election.

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