Nassau County, North Hempstead leadership in voters’ hands

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Laura Curran, as seen with Delia DeRiggi-Whitton and Kevan Abrahams, speaks at a press conference with reporters. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

Nassau County has more registered Democrats than Republicans, but that has not stopped the GOP from dominating politics at the county and town level. Still, a number of Democratic challengers are hopeful that they can make gains amid frustrations with corrupt officials and President Donald Trump.

The biggest race in the elections on Tuesday has no incumbent. County Executive Edward Mangano decided not to run for re-election after he was indicted on bribery charges, so either Republican Jack Martins or Democrat Laura Curran will run the county.

For most of the campaign, the main issues have been how to end corruption and how to balance the budget. Martins said he will reform the ethics board and Curran supported an independent inspector general to limit corruption.

“Nassau County is sick and tired of career politicians like Jack Martins giving them lip service during election season just to protect their cronies when in office,” Curran said.

Martins has touted his background as mayor of Mineola and promised to bring business to a county that has struggled to attract it.

The election “has to be about fixing this county going forward, and the finances in this county,” he said during a debate.

For county clerk, Democratic hopeful Dean Bennett, the CEO of corporate consulting firm J.K. Bennett & Associates, is challenging incumbent Republican Maureen O’Connell.

O’Connell said that in her years of service, the clerk’s office has been modernized and helped a huge number of people.

Bennett said he has experience managing budgets and people in the Empire State Development Agency and the county’s Office of Minority Affairs. If elected, he said, he would implement a five-point plan to improve accountability, professionalism, service, innovation and integrity.

For Nassau County comptroller, Steve Labriola (R-Massapequa) and Jack Schnirman (D-Long Beach) have sparred through social media and television advertisements in the contest to replace George Maragos.

In the county Legislature, Democrats are seeking to capture several seats held by incumbent Republicans.

In District 8, Carl Gerrato (D-Franklin Square) is challenging incumbent Vincent Muscarella (R-West Hempstead). It is Geratto’s second time challenging Muscarella, who has held the seat since the Legislature was founded in 1996.

Incumbent Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) seeks to continue his run as District 9 representative. His opponent, Mal Nathan (D-Williston Park), has not been campaigning due to open-heart surgery he underwent in October. This is Nathan’s second run against Nicolello, who won by about 3,000 votes two years ago.

County Legislator Ellen Birnbaum, a Democrat representing the 10th District (which includes the Great Neck peninsula and parts of Manhasset), faces a challenge from David Adhami, a Republican litigation attorney who manages his own firm.

Residents in Port Washington and Roslyn will decide whether to keep incumbent Democrat Delia DeRiggi-Whitton or choose Zefy Christopoulos, an independent running as a Republican, for District 11 legislator.

In District 14, incumbent Laura Schafer (R-Westbury) is challenged by Robert Pena (D-Garden City).

In District 16, Angel Cepeda (R-Plainview) takes a second run at the seat currently filled by incumbent Arnold Drucker (D-Plainview), who won the seat last November during a special election after the death of longtime Legislator Judy Jacobs.

District 18 Legislator Donald MacKenzie (R-Oyster Bay) faces the youngest challenger in the county elections in Joshua Lafazan (D-Syosset), 23.

In the town races, a number of incumbents will look to hold on to their positions.

Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth, seeking her third term, faces a challenge from Stephen Nasta, a former NYPD precinct commander and current adjunct professor at the John Jay College for Criminal Justice.

“Two of my role models in public service are Ed Koch and Rudy Guiliani. They got the job done,” Nasta said at a candidates forum in October. “And if I’m elected, that’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to get the job done.”

Bosworth has said that North Hempstead has improved under her administration, often highlighting its Aaa rating on municipal bonds, services that were maintained while staying under the tax cap and a healthy fiscal stress score.

Town of North Hempstead Clerk Wayne Wink (D-Roslyn) is seeking his second four-year term against challenger David Redmond (R-Mineola), a volunteer firefighter and technology business owner.

Incumbent Angelo Ferrara (R-New Hyde Park) is running for his sixth term on the North Hempstead Town Board in District 3. He is challenged by Jerry Vattamala (D-Garden City Park). Vattamala, previously unaffiliated with a party, recently registered to become a Democrat – which will not go into effect until after the election.

Lee Seeman, who is currently serving her third term as a councilwoman for the Town of North Hempstead’s 5th District, faces a challenge from Republican hopeful Richard DeMartino, a business development officer in banking based in New Hyde Park.

Meanwhile, in Hempstead, incumbent Supervisor Anthony Santino (R-East Rockaway) is challenged by Laura Gillen (D-Rockville Centre), and incumbent Nasrin Ahmad (R-Levittown) is challenged by Sylvia Cabana (D-Garden City) for Hempstead clerk.

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