Now there are only five names left in the hat to replace Matthew Crosson as president of the Long Island Association, the region's largest business and civic group, according to a spokeswoman for a committee seeking a successor.

Katherine Heaviside, president of Epoch 5 Marketing in Huntington and the search committee's spokeswoman, said the five names will be whittled down to two or three, and those will be forwarded to the full LIA board in mid-May. A new LIA president is expected to be named soon after to replace Crosson, who stepped down after 16 years to become head of the Greater Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce.

Heaviside would not disclose the names of the five being considered, but other sources did: They are:

Mitch Pally, who spent 20 years with the LIA before leaving the organization some 15 years ago to practice law privately. Pally is said by many in the business community to be an odds-on favorite.

Michael White, executive director of the Long Island Regional Planning Council. He is widely considered to be a good environmentalist with a high visibility in the business community.

Mark Fogel, vice president of human resources and administration at Leviton Manufacturing Co. in Melville, considered a surprise entry.

David Manning, formerly executive director of external affairs at KeySpan and now a director at MJ Bradley & Associates Llc, a Manhattan energy consulting firm.

John Kominicki, publisher of Long Island Business News in Ronkonkoma. Sources say if the LIA board decides to go in a direction that would take the organization away from its long-term leadership by lawyers, Kominicki would be the guy.

The LIA received 52 resumes for the top job by its March 25 deadline.

Manning said, "I think anybody who cares about Long Island, and I certainly do, would be interested in this job. I think it's very important." Through a spokeswoman, Fogel he was "not presently speaking with the LIA as an active applicant."

Heaviside said, "The methodology [in the selection process] has been incredibly good. We've had two excellent HR professionals guiding us through the process. We evaluated everyone evenly."

Can we assume the five named by sources are in the running?

"You can't assume anything," Heaviside said.

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