Nearly a quarter of both Nassau and Suffolk county legislative seats are undergoing turnover as new lawmakers voters elected in November are being sworn in now that the New Year has arrived.
The eight freshman county legislators, four on each side of the county line, are mostly from the same party as their respective districts’ predecessors, although Republicans picked up one seat in both counties—increasing their majority in Nassau and chipping at the Democratic majority in Suffolk.
“We sometimes disagree on issues, but we always do so respectfully and more often than not we are able to reach a consensus we can all live with,” said Legis. DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville), who was named the first African-American presiding officer of the Suffolk legislature.
Suffolk swore in all 18 of their legislators Thursday and Nassau’s 19 legislators are scheduled to do the same Monday—a formality before both panels can get down to business.
On the eastern half of the Island, the newcomers include: Legis. Robert Trotta (R-Fort Salonga), a retired Suffolk County police detective who replaced term-limited Legis. Lynne Nowick (R-St. James); Legis. William Lindsay III (D-Bohemia) who replaced his late father, the former presiding officer; Legis. Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood), a middle school assistant principal who unseated incumbent Legis. Rick Montano (D-Brentwood); and Legis. Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst), an ex-village official who won the seat vacated by Legis. Wayne Horsely (D-Babylon).
Nassau’s legislative newbies include: Legis. Laura Schaefer (R-Westbury), an attorney who won the seat vacated by retired Legis. Joseph Belisi (R-Farmingdale); Legis. Ellen Birnbaum (D-Great Neck), a town government aide who replaced outgoing Legis. Judi Bosworth (D-Great Neck); Legis. Donald MacKenzie (R-Oyster Bay), an attorney and village official who won the seat vacated by outgoing Legis. Wayne Wink (D-Roslyn) and Legis. Laura Curran (D-Baldwin), a former aide to ex-Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi. Curran replaced retired Legis. Joseph Scannell (D-Baldwin).
In addition, Legis. Robert Troiano (D-Westbury) announced last month that he’s resigning to take a job as director of operations for Bosworth, who was just elected supervisor of the Town of North Hempstead, where Wink was also elected town clerk. A special election will be held for Troiano’s seat.
Before Toiano announced that move, Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) was expected to have an 11-8 Republican majority in the legislature—still two votes shy of a supermajority needed to borrow money without Democratic approval.
In Suffolk, the Democrats hold nine seats in an 11-member coalition that includes two third party members—Legis. Kate Browning (WF-Shirley) and Legis. Jay Schniederman (I-Montauk)—while Republicans now have a seven-seat minority.