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Nassau Independence Party bypasses incumbent for North Hempstead clerk endorsement

Leslie Gross, a Democrat, is the Town of

Leslie Gross, a Democrat, is the Town of North Hempstead clerk. (May 28, 2009) Credit: Kathy Kmonicek

The Nassau County Independence Party has endorsed Democrat Wayne Wink, a Nassau County legislator, for North Hempstead Town Clerk.

The party selected Wink over six-year incumbent Leslie Gross, a Democrat who recently switched to the GOP line. Rick Bellando, Independence Party chairman, had earlier announced endorsements for other North Hempstead candidates, except for the clerk position. Last minute shuffling and uncertainty about the slate, Bellando said, contributed to the delay.

“It was a rough, rough, rough decision, because Leslie is a good friend,” Bellando said.

In May, the party endorsed Democratic candidates for supervisor and town board and one GOP candidate, veteran town board member Angelo Ferrara, of New Hyde Park.

North Hempstead’s demographics — 40 percent are registered Democrats, 30 percent Republicans — played a role, Bellando said. “We just felt it would be a tough race for her,” he said of Gross. “I just felt more comfortable staying with Wayne. We’re very close to the Democrats there.”

Wink said, “I appreciate the fact they gave me due consideration and ultimately found me worthy of their support.”

Gross expressed disappointment, saying, “If they only did that because they have strong ties to the Democratic Party, who are they anyway and who owns them?”

William Biamonte, Democratic elections commissioner for Nassau County, said Wink also will run on the Working Families Party line.

Nassau’s Conservative chairman Daniel F. Donovan said the party was declining to endorse any candidate. Biamonte said one candidate had secured enough petitions to be placed on the ballot, but withdrew last week. Donovan said the party has no plans to run a challenger against Gross or Wink.

According to July campaign filings, Wink leads Gross in fundraising, $63,801.29 to $35,690.09.

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