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Long IslandPolitics

Oyster Bay Republicans remain in control after sweeping election

Nassau County Republican Committee Chairman Joseph Mondello spoke on election night, Nov. 7, 2017, after several GOP candidates lost races for local office. (Credit: Newsday/Ted Phillips).

Oyster Bay Republican incumbents swept the election Tuesday night as a divided opposition failed to end 12 years of one-party rule.

Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino, who was appointed on Jan. 31 to replace former Supervisor John Venditto, defeated Democratic challenger Marc Herman by garnering 51.9 percent of the vote compared to 42.1 percent, according to unofficial results. The five-way race also included three independent and third-party candidates who collectively received 5.9 percent of the vote.

Republicans and Democrats poured money into the race with the campaigns of their supervisor candidates and party committees spending nearly $1.1 million, not including last-minute spending that has yet to be reported. That’s more than twice what comparable committees spent in 2015, when Democrats lost by 99 votes.

“The policies we put in place were in line with what our public asked for,” Saladino said in an interview early Wednesday morning. “We cut taxes, we put in place sweeping ethics reforms, we have fixed the finances of the town and we’ve truly proven that it’s a new day.”

Saladino made a brief appearance at the Republican election night results party in Westbury, but he did not give a victory speech. He left before Nassau County Republican Committee Chairman Joseph Mondello spoke to the crowd after polls showed major Republican defeats in other races in the county, including for county executive and Hempstead Town supervisor.

On Wednesday, Herman issued a statement thanking his team and supporters.

“The election results were not what we labored for, but I can say I am so much richer because of the people I worked with and met along our journey,” Herman said. “The fight to bring Oyster Bay back must continue.”

Venditto resigned in January to focus on his legal defense of federal corruption charges. Democrats tried to make corruption the main issue of the campaign, but the departure of Venditto and other administration officials removed some of their targets.

Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs on Wednesday said the “animosity” against Venditto did not “transfer smoothly to Saladino” and noted their opponents’ advantage in voter registration in a town where 38.2 percent are registered as Republicans, compared with 31.6 percent registered as Democrats.

“We always understood that Oyster Bay would be a tough nut to crack,” Jacobs said.

Lawrence Levy, executive dean at the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University in Hempstead, said in an email Wednesday that he had thought Saladino would win “in part because it’s a strong multigeneration family name that wasn’t touched by the scandal directly.”

“I also thought that the fractured field would be a problem for the Democrats in terms of getting up the kind of momentum or synergy that attracts bystanders to an election,” Levy said.

While third-party and independent candidates received fewer votes than Saladino’s margin of victory, they had largely focused on attacking Democrats on social media during the final weeks of the race.

Incumbent Councilmen Louis Imbroto and Thomas Hand, and Councilwoman Michele Johnson defeated their Democratic challengers.

Town Clerk James Altadonna Jr. was the biggest vote-getter of the night, with 36,995 votes returning him to office. Democratic town clerk candidate Dean Hart’s campaign reported $114,571 in expenditures — some of which paid for a series of comic-book-style mailers that portrayed Hart as cleaning up the town with a broom. Altadonna’s campaign reported expenses of $7,629.

“The people of Oyster Bay are giving us a chance, and it’s just a chance, and we need to act accordingly and we need to do right by all the people of Oyster Bay,” Altadonna said late Tuesday after election results showed him winning. “We have a lot of work to do.”

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