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Long IslandPoliticsSpin Cycle

Islip GOP, Conservatives screening clerk candidates

Islip Town Hall is facing questions about the

Islip Town Hall is facing questions about the use of funds after a state audit. (March 22, 2006) Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Islip Town Conservatives and Republicans will screen three potential candidates for town clerk in the wake of incumbent Regina Duffy’s announcement this week that she has decided not to seek re-election. Duffy was designated just last month for one of five cross-endorsed positions in the November elections.

The three are Bill Menendez, 54, a retired NYPD detective from Brentwood who is now an investigator with the Town of Islip’s safety department; Olga Murray, 49, an attorney and former director of Islip’s Foreign Trade Zone, and Pierce Cohalan, 42, former town attorney.

Menendez, who ran unsuccessfully against Suffolk Legis. Rick Montano for the 9th District in 2003, is on the Brentwood Library board and a member of the Brentwood Fire Department. He is a former assistant to then-Legis. Cameron Alden.

Murray works with her husband, Mark, an active GOP committee member, at their West Sayville law firm. Both Menendez and Olga Murray are enrolled Conservatives, as is Duffy.
Cohalan, 42, a Republican and son of former county executive and State Supreme Court Justice Peter Fox Cohalan, is also being screened for the Fifth District Court judgeship in Islip. He ran unsuccessfully against the late Assemb. Paul Harenberg in Suffolk County's Fifth Assembly District.

The screenings are expected to finish Tuesday, said Islip Conservative Party chairman Mike Torres. Asked if he had a position on whether the seat should go to Conservatives, Torres said: “We’d like it to go to a conservative but we’ll make the choice based on what’s best for the ticket.”

Duffy was one of five candidates endorsed last month on a joint Republican-Conservative ticket for town supervisor, two town board positions, town clerk and assessor of taxes. Her departure leaves just Anthony Senft as the sole Conservative, running for one of two town board positions.

According to town sources, the smart money is on Menendez, as the joint Conservative-Republican ticket looks to take account of the more than 30 percent Hispanic population in the town though Islip GOP chairman Frank Tantone dismissed such talk out of hand as “tokenism.” “You could make the same argument for Olga being a woman — we’ll be choosing the best candidate,” he said.

Renee Ortiz, the Suffolk legislature’s deputy clerk, is expected to get the nod for the town board seat now held by Councilman John Eds who is retiring, when Democrats hold their convention later this month. The Democrats are due to announce their designees next week.

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