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Long IslandPolitics

Polls close in county, town and city races across LI

Nassau County executive candidates Democrat Laura Curran and Republican Jack Martins on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017, talked about last-minute preparations for Tuesday's election and why they believe they're the right person for the job. Credit: Jessica Rotkiewicz

Polls closed at 9 p.m. Tuesday across Long Island for more than 150 local elections, led by Nassau County executive and Suffolk County district attorney — two races in which the departing incumbent is facing federal corruption charges.

In all, 306 candidates are running in 155 county, town, city and judicial races in both counties. Nassau has 125 candidates vying for 55 elected positions; Suffolk has 181 candidates competing for 100 seats.

Statewide, voters also will decide on three propositions, including whether to hold a constitutional convention that could change state government and whether to allow judges to revoke or reduce pensions of officials convicted of corruption crimes.

In New York City, Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio faces Republican Nicole Malliotakis and independent Bo Dietl.

At the top of the ticket in Nassau is the county executive race, in which voters will choose between non-incumbents for the first time since 2001. Democrat Laura Curran, a county legislator from Baldwin; Republican Jack Martins, a former state senator from Old Westbury; and Green Party candidate Cassandra Lems are on the ballot.

The candidates have made ethics reform among their top issues after incumbent Republican Edward Mangano was charged with receiving bribes and kickbacks from a local restaurateur in exchange for benefits including a county contract. Mangano, who is not seeking re-election and is completing his second term, has pleaded not guilty.

As of 6 p.m., turnout in Nassau County was on pace to roughly equal turnout in 2013, when 28 percent of registered voters cast ballots for county executive, said Nassau Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs.

Suffolk’s highest-profile race is for district attorney. It features Republican Ray Perini, a veteran criminal defense attorney and former narcotics prosecutor; Democrat Timothy Sini, the Suffolk police commissioner and a former federal prosecutor; and Libertarian Party candidate Christopher Garvey.

The district attorney candidates also have focused on the ethics issue.

District Attorney Thomas Spota, a Democrat first elected in 2001, already had announced he wasn’t seeking re-election when federal prosecutors last month charged him and a top aide with conspiring to cover up and obstruct the investigation into former Suffolk Police Chief James Burke’s beating of a burglary suspect.

Spota has pleaded not guilty, and has said he intends to step down before the end of his term next month.

Voter turnout in Suffolk was heavy as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, county election officials said. By then, 23.6 percent of voters had turned out, compared with 16.55 percent at that time in 2013. Turnout in 2015 was 13.53 percent by about 5 p.m.

Republican Elections Commissioner Nicholas LaLota said the proposed constitutional convention and the first competitive district attorney’s and sheriff’s races in 12 years “have voters more engaged this year.”

Other countywide races include Nassau County comptroller.

Republican Steve Labriola, a former deputy county comptroller, Democrat Jack Schnirman, the Long Beach city manager and Green Party member Laurence Hirsh face off to replace Democrat George Maragos, who is not seeking re-election.

For Nassau County clerk, Republican incumbent Maureen O’Connell faces a challenge from Democrat Dean Bennett, who runs a management consulting firm.

The other countywide race in Suffolk is for sheriff. Incumbent Vincent DeMarco, a Conservative Party member, isn’t seeking re-election.

To succeed him, Republican Lawrence Zacarese, who upset the party-backed choice in the GOP primary, faces Democrat Errol Toulon Jr., a retired New York City correction deputy commissioner, and Libertarian Party candidate Peter Krauss.

All seats on the county legislatures in both Nassau and Suffolk also are on the ballot.

In Nassau, Republicans hold an 11-7 majority, with one vacancy. Open seats include the 15th District, where Republican Dennis Dunne stepped down earlier this year to take a seat on the Hempstead Town Board; the 5th, where Curran is not running for re-election; and the 13th, where Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) is retiring.

The most competitive legislative race is expected in the 18th District, where Republican Donald Mackenzie is seeking a third term against Joshua Lafazan, a Syosset school board member.

In Suffolk, Democrats hold a 12-6 legislative majority.

Democrats are defending the seats of three term-limited lawmakers: Kate Browning in the 3rd District, Steve Stern in the 16th and Lou D’Amaro in the 17th.

Republicans have one seat to defend, with the retirement of Republican Thomas Barraga in the 11th District.

Battleground districts in Suffolk are the 3rd, where Browning aide Joshua Slaughter faces Republican Rudolph Sunderman, a local fire chief, and the 6th, where Legis. Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) is challenged by Republican Gary Pollakusky, who owns a marketing business.

All of Long Island’s towns also have supervisor and town board races. Competitive battles are in Huntington, where Democratic town board member Tracey Edwards and GOP Assemb. Chad Lupinacci are vying to succeed retiring Democrat Frank Petrone. Michael Raspantini is running on the End Corruption line.

Nassau’s most hotly contested supervisor’s race is in Oyster Bay, where five people are running after former Supervisor John Venditto stepped down in January. Venditto has pleaded not guilty to state and federal corruption charges.

Republican Supervisor Joseph Saladino, who was appointed following Venditto’s resignation, is facing Democrat Marc Herman, a former Syosset school board president; the Reform Party’s John Mangelli, who narrowly lost to Venditto as the Democratic candidate in 2015; and independent candidates Jonathan Clarke and Robert Ripp.

At Massapequa High School early Tuesday afternoon, Mara and David Levi, restaurateurs from Massapequa Park, said they wanted to see a better business climate in Oyster Bay and Nassau County, more akin to Westchester County.

“Look at businesses and how long it takes to get permits,” said David Levi, 73. “You vote for change — sometimes it can be good, sometimes it can be bad.”

Tony Fanara, 55, a retired NYPD officer from Massapequa Park and a self-described conservative Republican, said GOP candidates Steve Labriola for county comptroller, James Altadonna Jr. for Oyster Bay Town clerk and Saladino had been active in the community and were “upstanding guys.”

“Corruption is a big issue,” Fanara said. “Hopefully they’ve gotten rid of everybody who’s corrupt.”

Rianne Berdick, 68, a retired nurse from Massapequa Park, said she was a “staunch Democrat” and had voted for “just a change.”

Jim Dunleavy, 64, of Hicksville, said he voted for Democrat Laura Curran for Nassau County executive because “I want to go away from the Republicans. I don’t like the way the Republican system is going, with all the indictments and everything.”

But Dunleavy, a registered Democrat, said he voted for Saladino because his union had endorsed Saladino.

“I pretty much vote the way my union wants,” he said as he left Old Country Road Elementary School in Hicksville.

Rosemary DeJoseph, 66, of Hicksville, said she voted for Saladino because she believes he is implementing positive changes in Oyster Bay government.

“I just like what he’s trying to do,” said DeJoseph, a registered Republican. “I think he’s going to be a lot more honest.”

She said she voted for Republican Jack Martins for county executive because “he seems like a good family man.”

Outside the polling place at the Plainview-Old Bethpage Public Library, Plainview residents Joe and Susan Raia said they were most concerned about “corruption” in Oyster Bay and Nassau County.

“Everyone I run into all feel upset about the same issue,” which is corruption, said Susan Raia, 50, a former executive secretary. “We’ll try to send a message.”

Christa Bird was walking her dog in front of the library Tuesday, and said she would return to cast her vote.

“Nassau County’s a mess,” Bird said. “The corruption is just disgusting.”

Lenny Feld, 67, of Jericho, said he voted for Democrats Laura Curran for Nassau County executive and Marc Herman for Oyster Bay supervisor.

“I’m a little concerned about what’s been going on in Oyster Bay and in the county with corruption,” said Feld, an attorney. “My sense is that Curran is going to be a clean sweep and maybe things will be a little different.”

Feld said he also voted yes on the state constitutional convention.

“I’ve been going back and forth for a while on this,” he said. “I know people are afraid of retroactively losing state pensions and other changes. Of course that’s possible, but there . . . may be some change. Albany really does seem dysfunctional — they don’t do budgets on time, don’t accomplish anything unless the head of the party wants them to.”

Feld also said he was “embarrassed” to learn that, as of about 3:20 p.m., only about 250 people had voted at his polling place, according to people working the polling station.

“It’s a shame that more people don’t vote,” Feld said. “You complain about things, but if you don’t go down and vote, I don’t want to hear you complain.”

At the Rose Caracappa Senior Center in Mount Sinai, John Schmidt, 67, a Mount Sinai independent and retired Grumman worker, said he was motivated to vote against the state proposition for a constitutional convention.

Schmidt said it would be a waste of money to pay for the delegates. “It’s a boondoggle,” he said.

Lynn Jordan, 76, a retired school nurse from Mount Sinai, said she wanted Sini, the Democratic district attorney candidate, to stay in his current job as Suffolk police commissioner.

“He’s doing an excellent job as police commissioner. It’s not right to have him ripped out and put into the DA’s office. We need to provide consistency,” she said.

At Huntington High School, Gabriele Wolf said she had voted for Democrat Tracey Edwards for Huntington supervisor.

“I’m a Democrat. I just like her,” said Wolf, a Huntington resident for 60 years. “She does a lot for Huntington. I’ve been pleased with the way things are going here in Huntington.”

Alyson Storck, 32, said she grew up in Huntington, “and now I’m an adult raising a young family here.”

Storck, who is nine months pregnant with her second child — she concedes she gets a lot of jokes about her name — said she’s a school psychologist in Nassau County, so education is important to her.

Storck is a strong supporter of Democratic candidate Emily Rogan for Huntington Town board, saying she liked what Rogan has done on the Huntington school board.

“I thought her perspective would be an asset,” said Storck.

With Rachelle Blidner, David Olson, Ted Phillips, David M. Schwartz and Andrew Smith

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