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Newsday endorses Eileen Napolitano in Nassau's 13th District

Eileen Napolitano, Democratic candidate for Nassau County Legislature

Eileen Napolitano, Democratic candidate for Nassau County Legislature 13th District. Credit: James Escher

It's time for a change at the top.

Norma Gonsalves isn't to blame for all that's wrong with the Nassau County Legislature, but she can be held responsible for its ineptness.

Gonsalves, 81, has been in the legislature since 1998, and she's held the gavel as majority leader since 2012. A Republican from East Meadow, she claims she is bipartisan, but she has increasingly ruled over a chamber and a caucus that care more about politics than about governance. Unlike in the Suffolk legislature, where members of both parties can get a bill to the floor or call a public hearing, Gonsalves won't afford the opposition that privilege.

The county is all but bankrupt, the budget is out of balance, and it's getting worse. But Gonsalves is happy to stand up for the county's contracting process regardless of how it enriches the well-connected. She's happy to stand behind the mailers her caucus sends to voters at county expense, even if they are baldly political or dishonest. That's just how things are done. A pro in the game, she professed ignorance when it was revealed that she has failed over nine years to file the mandated disclosure of her political donors.

Eileen Napolitano, the East Meadow Democrat running against Gonsalves, is refreshingly unpolitical. The 53-year-old optician sees a district struggling with heroin addiction and some street crime. She wants to partner with the state board overseeing the county's finances, not deride it. And she wants to ride herd on an administration that wastes plenty of money on part-time jobs for pals, then pleads poverty. The Girl Scout leader and softball coach wants to make a difference, and that's what really matters.

Napolitano will learn to work the levers of government, but she already knows the issues and the urgency.

Newsday endorses Napolitano.


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