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Norma Gonsalves won’t run again for Nassau County Legislature

Nassau County Legislative Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves, shown

Nassau County Legislative Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves, shown in Mineola on March 21, 2016, is not expected to run for re-election this fall, GOP sources said on May 18, 2017. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau’s presiding officer Norma Gonsalves, an East Meadow Republican who has served for nearly 20 years in the county legislature, will not run for re-election this fall.

Gonsalves, 82, said in a statement Thursday that she has “done my best to lead this body with integrity and transparency, which have been my guiding principles in presiding over the county legislature.”

A civic leader before winning public office in 1997, Gonsalves said she looks forward to spending more time with her family while remaining active in the community.

Assemb. Tom McKevitt of East Meadow is the Republican candidate for Gonsalves’ 13th District seat.

With the support of Nassau Republican Chairman Joseph Mondello, the Republican legislative majority named Gonsalves presiding officer after predecessor Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa) died unexpectedly in October 2012.

Gonsalves had been pressured by Republican leaders to not seek re-election after her campaign committee was fined $14,000 last year for violating state campaign finance laws.

Recent GOP polls found Gonsalves’ popularity sagging in a year in which public corruption is the top issue among voters, according to both Democratic and Republican officials.

The Democratic candidate in the 13th District, Eileen Napolitano, this week highlighted Gonsalves’ campaign finance problems by suggesting a proposed GOP law to bar felons from public office also should bar elected officials who violate campaign finance laws.

A State Supreme Court justice last year found Gonsalves’ campaign committee violated state law eight times between 2013 and 2015 by failing to disclose political donors and expenses. Neither Gonsalves nor her campaign treasurer were found personally liable.

Napolitano said Thursday, “While I respect Norma’s decision and her commitment to public service, this should clearly be taken as a sign that Nassau taxpayers have reached a boiling point, and are in dire need of real reform from the inside out.”

Gonsalves is expected to serve out her term, which expires Dec. 31.

In her statement, Gonsalves said she was proud of public safety initiatives to lower crime and implement a Narcan program to provide emergency treatment for opioid overdoses.

She said she also took personal pride in establishing the Hispanic Heritage month; reaching out to the Latino community; establishing a Veterans Clinic at Nassau University Medical Center; and sustaining the Cornell Cooperative Extension farm in East Meadow.

“I have kept my commitment to the homeowners and taxpayers by holding the line on property taxes and improving the fiscal stability of this county,” Gonsalves said.

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