Suffolk County Executive
From his days knocking on neighbors’ doors as a 26-year-old Democratic candidate for the Suffolk Legislature to his triumphant 2007 re-election as County Executive, Levy has never been shy about his ambitions. When Levy came to the county executive office after serving in the Assembly, he had to dig Suffolk out of a $238-million hole. A legendary penny pincher, he managed to turn the county around. Levy’s outspokenness, especially on illegal immigrants, hasn’t won him any liberal friends, but now that he’s running for governor as a Republican, maybe he doesn’t need them, anyway. What he will need is 51 percent of the delegates’ votes at next month’s state GOP convention.
Former Nassau County Executive
In December 2009, the rising star of the Nassau County Democratic Party narrowly lost his re-election bid to seven-term Republican county legislator Ed Mangano following a razor-thin Election Night tally and month-long paper ballot recount. Suozzi was hired in January by Cablevision Systems Corp. (also one of his biggest campaign contributors) as a consultant to its Local Media Group, which includes holdings Newsday, am New York and News 12. In March, he made a rare TV appearance on The Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity Show. As if that weren’t enough, the Suozzler was hired last month as a senior advisor to Manhattan-based international financial advisory and asset management firm Lazard Ltd.
Town of Hempstead Supervisor
Murray broke the glass ceiling in 2003, becoming the first woman supervisor of the most populous township in America. Re-elected last fall, she’s proved time and time again she’s one of Nassau’s top Republican vote-getters. Whether it’s installing LI’s first solar-powered government office or pushing for affordable housing, Murray is a player. Just don’t get her on the ice with Islanders’ fans—some hold her responsible for causing Charles Wang, the team’s owner, to contemplate dropping the puck somewhere else, especially if his multi-billion-dollar Lighthouse Project gets iced. The popular politician prides herself on fiscal prudence. Maybe she could show the rest of the state how to play ball.
The Skolnick-Sky Family
Co-directors of Huntington’s Cinema Arts Centre
The Skolnick-Sky family (father Vic Skolnick, mother Charlotte Sky and son Dylan Skolnick) have brought a wealth of independent and foreign films to Long Island for nearly four decades. Over that time, both the cinema itself and its scope have grown tremendously, offering a café, new film programs, screenwriting workshops, and Q&A sessions with directors, writers and industry experts. Most importantly, the Centre fosters community and cultural awareness that can be found in few other places on Long Island, or anywhere else. Today, CAC’s mission remains unchanged, as its programming and scope continue to widen.
Suffolk County Democratic Committee Chairman
A former Babylon Town Supervisor, Schaffer is a political master. He helped Democrats wrest control of Brookhaven from the Republicans for the first time in 30 years by engineering the victory of Brian Foley as supervisor in 2005. Next he guided Foley to a state Senate seat that had long been in GOP hands and cleared the way for Mark Lesko to become supervisor. Maybe Schaffer got socked in the gut when Steve Levy switched parties to run for governor. But he never wastes a second feeling sorry for himself. He gets even.
Suffolk County District Attorney
Suffolk County’s D.A. may not be gunning for state office like his Nassau counterpart, but don’t think he’s been resting on his laurels. Spota’s had a busy year, from successfully prosecuting hate crimes in Patchogue to busting heroin in the Hamptons and exposing an $82-million-dollar mortgage fraud ring in Southampton involving a former Suffolk legislator. Getting a conviction in the Marcelo Lucero murder case put a feather in Spota’s cap and cast LI in favorable light for a change. If Spota ever decides to retire, he could give Nelson DeMille a run for his money—because Spota deals in facts, not fiction. You can’t make this stuff up.
Gary Dela Raba
Former president of the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association
As president of the Nassau County PBA for 20 years until he stepped down in 2008, Dela Raba represented police officers in the negotiations of four contracts—two with former County Executive Tom Suozzi and two with his predecessor, Tom Gulotta—not an easy task, amid all the county belt tightening as it spiraled into fiscal uncertainty during his tenure. Taking full advantage of his retirement, Gary now splits his time between his family—especially his six grandchildren—and the golf course.
New York Islanders Owner
The former CEO of Computer Associates is still a power player on Long Island…at least, for now. Wang’s threats to move the Islanders off the Island (to Queens? To Kansas City?) persist, and will continue to do so till the Lighthouse Project either (A) breaks ground or (B) gets buried. As a real estate mogul, Wang has run into endless red tape and rejection, but with a new county executive in place, his luck could change. Or…he could take his puck and leave.
Rev. Allan Ramirez
Brookville Reformed Church Pastor
Rev. Ramirez is a voice for the Latino community who has clashed with many people on this list over the ever-controversial LI issue of immigrants’ rights. Born to a poor family in Ecuador, Rev. Ramirez now delivers sermons to a mostly white congregation in an upscale North Shore community. But he still spends time on the streets listening to the concerns of day laborers. Rev. Ramirez was a fixture in court recently during the high-profile hate crime trial for Marcelo Lucero, providing constant support to the slain Ecuadorean immigrant’s family. He continues to blame Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy for fostering a climate where such a crime could take place.
Parents for Megan’s Law and The Crime Victims Center Executive Director
Ahearn founded this Stony Brook-based national advocacy organization after Congress passed Megan’s Law in the mid-1990s but information on where convicted sex offenders lived remained hard to find. The center is now a comprehensive sex-offender information outlet. Their team of advocates helps victims work with investigators. And when they spot a loophole in the law, Ahearn takes to the political arena to fix it. She continues to offer her expertise to local, state and federal lawmakers who propose sex offender-related legislation and remains one of the most recognizable voices for victims and the communities they’re from.