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Ralph Suozzi-Reginald Spinello race for Glen Cove mayor remains undecided

(L-R) Glen Cove Mayor Ralph Suozzi faces off

(L-R) Glen Cove Mayor Ralph Suozzi faces off against his opponent Reginald Spinello in a debate at Glen Cove High School. (Oct. 25, 2013) Photo Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The Glen Cove election was undecided Wednesday as incumbent Mayor Ralph Suozzi hoped absentee ballots would overcome City Council member Reginald Spinello's lead.

Spinello, an Independence Party member running on the Republican line, leads Democrat Suozzi, by a 115-vote margin, 50.9 percent to 49.1 percent, according to unofficial results.

The Nassau County Board of Elections sent out 511 absentee ballots and as of Tuesday, 327 had been returned. They are due Monday, when they will be counted.

Spinello said he thought he would be declared the winner.

"Nothing's guaranteed, but usually when you have these absentee ballots situations, they really don't vary that much from what the results are," he said. "It's 115 votes at this time, so we'll have to play it out, but I do feel confident."

Suozzi said in a text message they needed go through the process to assure all votes were tallied. "This is a close contest and every vote counts," Suozzi said.

The absentee ballots could also swing the composition of the City Council, which was split with three Democrats and three Republicans, after all precincts reported. The mayor is a member of the City Council, though he cannot vote on certain things such as his budget. The city hasn't had a non-Democratic mayor or a GOP majority City Council since 1993.

Lawrence Levy, executive dean of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, said communities that tend to be Democratic or Republican will sometimes switch parties for a time.

"The challenge for the Republican Party is to find an overall message," Levy said, "and through positions on specific policies to make this more than just a one-election wonder," if Spinello is victorious.

A change in mayor would raise questions about large development projects that Suozzi shepherded and Spinello criticized, such as the waterfront development, the Piazza mixed-use downtown development and the subdivision of the Glen Cove Mansion and Conference Center property.

Spinello said Wednesday that he would like to see less density and more recreation at the waterfront project, called Garvies Point, but said it's already had approvals so he would have a dialogue with its developer, Scott Rechler, president and chief executive of RXR Realty LLC.

Spinello said: "I'm going to talk with him as two people that are working together. I'm not looking to fight with him on anything."

Rechler said he's had a good relationship with Spinello and would work with him. "While our zoning is in place, we're always open-minded," Rechler said. The $1 billion mixed-use project is slated to break ground next year.

"Fundamentally, Reggie knows that Glen Cove needs to move forward and get some new economic generators for the city to be vibrant," Rechler said. "He'll be the first one after all these decades of people talking about this project to actually be at a groundbreaking and be at a ribbon-cutting."

Spinello said he also saw no problem with mixed-use development downtown. He said he would like to stop the subdivision at the Glen Cove Mansion approved earlier this year.

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