Long Island voters in Nassau and Suffolk counties are choosing new local officials Tuesday as both counties continue to battle a sour economy and Nassau is trying to avoid bankruptcy.
In Suffolk, voters will select a replacement for County Executive Steve Levy, 52, a Democrat-turned-Republican who tried to run for governor last year and was forced to retire after a fundraising scandal. Babylon Supervisor Steve Bellone, 42, is the Democratic candidate. County Treasurer Angie Carpenter, 67, is the Republican.
Bellone has a substantial fundraising lead as well as the endorsement of Newsday. Levy had twice won landslide elections as a Democrat.
In Nassau, Republican County Executive Ed Mangano, 49, who won an upset against Thomas Suozzi in 2009, is not on the ballot. Control of the Nassau County Legislature is at stake; currently Republicans control it, 11 to 8.
Due to the financial crisis, Nassau is under supervision by Albany through an appointed Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA), which has demanded budget cuts and tax hikes to balance Mangano's $2.6 billion budget. Mangano has sold LI Bus, ordered closing of two police precincts, closed county museums and eliminated entire agencies in county government.
The Legislature slipped into Republican hands in 2009 and Democrats have spent heavily to win back seats, especially in heavily African-American communities like Elmont, now represented by veteran Republican John Ciotti, and in the traditionally Democratic Five Towns, now represented by Republican Howard Kopel.
In the Elmont district, Democrats nominated Haitian-American Carrie Solages; in the Five Towns area, their nominee is Adam Moser, a former District Court judge.
Republicans are gunning for the open seat of retiring Democrat Diane Yatauro in the Glen Cove area, which has often voted Republican. The Republican candidate is Robert Germino and the Democrat is Delia DeRiggi-Whitton; she is the daughter of a former Republican Glen Cove mayor.
All three Nassau Towns are voting for Supervisors, with Hempstead's Kate Murray and Oyster Bay's John Venditto, both Republicans, expected to hold on easily. In North Hempstead, Supervisor Jon Kaiman, a Democrat, is expected to win a fifth term against Republican Lee Tu, a Taiwanese-American, in a rematch from 2009.
If Kaiman, 49, prevails, he could be tipped as the 2013 Democratic County Executive candidate against Mangano. In North Hempstead, an Iranian-American, Anna Monahemi Kaplan, 46, a Democrat, is running for an open Town Council seat in the Great Neck area. She is opposed by Jeffrey Bass, 62, a Democrat-turned Republican who is a trustee of the Village of Great Neck.
In Suffolk, where Levy's $2.7 billion budget for 2012 has run into problems, Democrats seek to retain their 12 to 6 hold on the County Legislature, where three Democrats are retiring.
Republicans have spent heavily to remove Democrats Steve Stern in the Dix Hills-Huntington area and Louis D'Amaro, in the North Babylon area. Deborah Poulos is the Republican candidate against Stern and Dennis Garetano is running against D'Amaro.
Seven Suffolk towns will also select supervisors, including Islip, Southold and East Hampton.
Meanwhile, Nassau and Suffolk voters will jointly elect 10 justices to the State Supreme Court. Most candidates are current or former judges including John Riordan, a Democrat who served 10 years as Nassau County Surrogate Judge, and Joseph Pastoressa, a Republican appointed by former Gov. George Pataki to the Court of Claims.
Jerome Murphy, a son-in-law of former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, a Republican defeated in 1998, is also a Republican, Conservative and Independence nominee for Supreme Court. He is currently a lawyer in private practice.
David Zielenziger is a veteran editor and journalist who has written for newspapers including the Baltimore Sun, Asian Wall Street Journal and EETimes, as well as for...