Lewis Yevoli, a former Oyster Bay Town Supervisor who last served in public office 20 years ago, will challenge Nassau County Legislator Arnold Drucker (D-Plainview) for the Democratic nomination to represent the county’s 16th legislative district.
Yevoli, 78, of Old Bethpage, said he decided to enter the race out of frustration with the partisan status quo in county politics.
“You’ve got to have an adult in the room,” he said. “Someone independent who is willing to speak out whether it offends the Republican Party or the Democratic Party.”
The 16th legislative district takes in parts of Roslyn Heights, Old Westbury and the Town of Oyster Bay.
Yevoli served in the State Assembly from 1974 through 1991. He has worked in the private sector for the “majority” of the past 20 years, most recently as vice president of commercial banking at The First National Bank Of Long Island, a position he left six months ago, he said.
Yevoli cited debt, corruption and “a tax assessment system that hasn’t worked for 70 years” as problems that he finds most concerning.
“Corruption is an issue and the way to resolve that is you need ethics laws with real teeth in them,” he said. “I’m not naive, I’ve been in politics a long time.”
Yevoli said his experience distinguishes him from Drucker, who took office last November in a special election following the unexpected death of longtime county Legislator Judy Jacobs.
Drucker said he did not expect a Democratic primary for the seat.
“It’s surprising when you’re primaried because they don’t happen that often,” he said. “But I was more surprised when I heard who it was because quite frankly I didn’t know he was still involved or interested in getting back involved in politics.”
“Experience can be defined in a number of different ways,” Drucker added. “[Yevoli’s] experience is 20 years old and beyond. I’ve been in office now for six months but I feel that I’ve had a lot of success in my short tenure there by forging relationships with people on both sides of the aisle.”
Last month, Drucker led two legislative proposals from Democrats to increase policing at religious institutions and hike the tobacco purchasing age to 21.
Yevoli said he agrees with proposed laws but called them “apple pie issues.”
“It’s fine what he’s done,” Yevoli added. “If Arnold Drucker wants to address some issues let’s address pocket book issues” or how “the NICE bus system is not working.”
Drucker said he “along my fellow caucus members are searching to find ways to get the administration to curtail their spending” and said he was “very effective in getting NICE to reinstate or not eliminate the N78 and N79 bus route through the Plainview, Hicksville, Sayosset and Woodbury area to maintain it for jobs, for health and for education.”
Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs, who has backed Drucker, criticized Yevoli for statements and actions he considered divergent from the party.
“While he has remained a registered Democrat he has become for all intents and purposes an active Republican,” Jacobs said of Yevoli, citing donations made to the Nassau County Republican Committee as well as Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford).
Yevoli said the donations were far smaller than those he gave to Democratic candidates and balked at suggestions that his taking office would weaken the Democratic Party in the County.
“How could the Democratic party get any weaker?” he asked. “Jay Jacobs has been a disaster for the Democratic Party.”
Yevoli was set to hold a fundraiser on Wednesday featuring New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Assembly Deputy Speaker Earlene Hooper, he said.
Drucker, who said he has the backing of all six other Democratic members of the Nassau County Legislature, will hold fundraisers as well.
“Anytime Mr. Drucker wants to have a debate I would love to do it,” Yevoli said. “I’m happy to compare my record against his.”