As Long Island struggles amid a seemingly nonexistent economic recovery and Nassau and Suffolk county leaders fight to close multi-million-dollar budget holes, voters will hit the polls Nov. 8 to decide the fate of both legislatures.
The Suffolk County executive race between Republican County Treasurer Angie Carpenter and Democratic Babylon Supervisor Steve Bellone will surely impact local legislative races. Democrats and the third-party members who caucus with them have a 12-6 edge over the GOP, but Majority Leader Jon Cooper (D-Lloyd Habor) and Legis. Vivian Viloria-Fisher (D-Setauket) are term-limited, and Legis. Jack Eddington (I-Medford) is not seeking re-election—opening chances to close that gap.
In Nassau, where the GOP has an 11-8 advantage, legislators have some tough decisions ahead of them after a state watchdog took over this year, declared a fiscal crisis, froze wages and mandated the county take drastic action to finally balance its budget without borrowing. Like Suffolk, up to 700 layoffs have been threatened, but Republican County Executive Ed Mangano also plans to ask the legislature to close two police precincts, privatize Long Island Bus and talks of privatizing the sewage system.
How much the balance of power is really in play is debatable and whether voter discontent will have sway is impossible to predict, but one thing is certain: The winners are tasked with steering LI at its crossroads.