Nassau Republican chairman Joe Cairo.

Nassau Republican chairman Joe Cairo. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Daily Point

NY GOP tilts LI-ward

Each state GOP organization gets to pick two representatives to the Republican National Committee. Both serve on the 168-member RNC alongside that state's party chairperson. Last year, there were no Long Islanders in New York’s three seats; now there are two. And the change isn’t random.

Three months after Ed Cox of Westhampton returned as New York State chair — succeeding new Rep. Nick Langworthy of western New York — the state party committee has elected Joe Cairo, the Republican chairman in Nassau County, to one of the at-large slots. Cairo replaces another western New Yorker, the oil-pipeline businessman Charles P. Joyce.

The third national committee person from New York, Jennifer Saul Rich, a longtime Fifth Avenue, Manhattan resident, remains on the RNC.

Cairo was thrust into a difficult spot as county chairman when Rep. George Santos (R-Nassau/Queens), whom he gave the nomination with no primary challenge, turned out to be a poster boy for political fraud, and Cairo responded by demanding his resignation and vowing Santos would never get the line again.

While putting Cairo in the national spotlight, his demands that the freshman in CD3 quit went unheeded. As it happened, Cairo’s RNC ascension, voted Monday, was announced Friday — the same day that the people who co-signed Santos’ $500,000 bond in his criminal fraud case were described by his attorney as family members.

But as much as Santos’ win marred it, that wild-card election was part of a successful 2022 red wave that turned the Island’s four-member congressional delegation all-GOP alongside local and county successes. As a result, Cairo, the county’s OTB chairman, becomes a logical choice for Cox and the RNC going into next summer’s national convention.

“Nassau County Republican Chairman Joe Cairo will be a great National Committeeman,” Cox said in a news release Friday. “He has demonstrated that he can raise funds and mount winning campaigns. I am eager to continue working with him as he serves in his new capacity.”

Responded Cairo: “I am excited to continue my work with a great State Republican Chairman, Ed Cox, to realize more Republican victories at every level.”

That sounds like a long-term shift of regional diplomacy. Cairo’s predecessor, the late Joe Mondello, had been a rival of Cox, who in 2009 ran against and succeeded Mondello for state chairman, the first time Cox held the post.

Do this week’s changes also end the New York party’s reflexive fealty to the defeated and indicted former President Donald Trump? Early last year, committee members Langworthy, Rich and Joyce voted on the 168-member RNC to denounce then Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for joining the House probe of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

— Dan Janison

Pencil Point

Indicted again

Credit: Englehart

For more cartoons, visit

Final Point

Huntington tries housing … again

Even as housing legislation died — again — in Albany this week, the Town of Huntington is preparing to consider its own effort to expand housing, by legalizing accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, in basements and detached garages.

As the town gears up for a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday, it seems the legislation may have the support of as many as four of the five board members — Sal Ferro, Gene Cook, and the legislation’s co-sponsors Joan Cergol and Dave Bennardo. Town Supervisor Ed Smyth is refraining from taking a position until after the hearing, a spokeswoman said.

But the potential for a supportive vote isn’t stopping the opposition from stepping up its efforts. That starts with a two-page mailer that encourages residents to stop the plan, by calling Smyth and the town board members to voice their dissent. The flyer is labeled as coming from Citizens for a Sustainable Huntington.

No one in town leadership or advocacy seems to know who that group is, and the group has no discernible presence on social media or elsewhere online. But the layout of the flyer is strikingly similar to an opposition mailer that emerged in the wake of the town’s last attempt to legalize ADUs late last year, which mentioned Save Huntington Village, an activist group that has protested development.

“Huntington Town Board proposes abolishing single-family zoning,” the flyer says, falsely. “Governor Hochul twice tried to pass similar ill-conceived zoning, which was rejected by residents and legislature. But now the Town Board thinks it’s good for us???”

The flyer, which features a hand-drawn cartoonish picture of blocks of homes with basements for rent, cars parked in front, and a home’s falling sales price, focuses on the impact on safety, water, infrastructure and taxes.

“The Huntington Town Board’s affordable housing plan … Destroy our suburban single-family neighborhoods, packing in apartments, requiring more government services, raising our property taxes, and lowering the value of our homes,” the flyer states.

Advocates, however, say the mailer isn’t accurate, noting that home values are expected to rise with the legalization of basement and garage apartments, and that safety has been accounted for, noting that the fire marshal will be alerted to all units, and that sprinklers will be required.

“It was inaccurate, it was divisive, and it seems to me it came from a position of certain privilege,” said housing advocate Pilar Moya, the executive director of Housing Help.

Moya noted that she works with Huntington homeowners who have trouble paying their mortgages, for whom an accessory apartment could be a helpful source of income, and with young residents and seniors looking for affordable housing, for whom accessory apartments could be a viable option.

Basement apartments were legal in Huntington until 2019, when the town board banned them as part of a larger effort to revise accessory dwelling and affordable housing code. Late last year, the town board first proposed re-legalizing basement apartments, but Ferro withdrew that effort in the face of opposition, saying he hoped to rework it to address concerns.

That reworked effort will come up for discussion Tuesday.

— Randi F. Marshall

Newsday LogoCovering LI news as it happensDigital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months