Wink Clears Way for Weitzman in Nassau Comptroller Race

tom suozzi
From left:
From left: County Clerk candidate Lauren Gillen, former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi and former Nassau County Comptroller Howard Weitzman, all Democrats, on Tuesday, May 21, 2013.

It’s looking more and more likely that Nassau County voters will have a familiar feeling when they read the candidates names to choose from on election ballots at the polls this fall.

Nassau Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs endorsed Tuesday former County Comptroller Howard Weitzman after Legis. Wayne Wink (D-Roslyn) bowed out to spare the party a primary in that race—one of two local Democratic primaries Jacobs is trying to avoid.

“As Yogi Bera would say, ‘This is déjà vu all over again,’” Weitzman told reporters at a news conference in Mineola, vowing to unseat Republican Comptroller George Maragos, who won Weitzman’s job nearly four years ago. “I’m really looking forward to running again on a ticket with Tom Suozzi.”

Suozzi, the former Democratic county executive seeking his job back from Republican Ed Mangano, who unseated him in 2009, endorsed Weitzman, saying: “I know he can do it because he’s done it.”

Together with Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, the top of the Democratic ticket may be mostly the same as it was four years ago.

The one clearly new name is Lauren Gillen, a Rockville Centre-based attorney who’s the Democratic candidate running against County Clerk Maureen O’Connell, a Republican who won her job in 2005.

The wild card is Adam Haber, a Roslyn school board member and businessman challenging Suozzi to a primary on the Democratic line in the race against Mangano because he believes it will take an outsider to clean up the county.

Mangano, Maragos and O’Connell are each running for re-election on the GOP line. A Republican challenger to Rice has yet to emerge.

“My overriding goal has always been to have a unified ticket…a primary would be an unnecessary use of resources,” Jacobs said. “We ought to be focused on the Mangano administration.”

Wink, a county legislator representing the 11th district, had decided not to run for his current job after his seat was merged into the district represented by Legis. Judi Bosworth (D-Great Neck) last year. Jacobs alluded to another office Wink may be nominated to run for at the upcoming party convention.

“If there is one that I’ve learned first hand,” Wink said, “the Mangano administration really ran this county into the ground.”

Maragos didn’t waste any time firing back at Weitzman, who repeatedly compared Mangano and Maragos to Suozzi’s Republican predecessor Tom Gulotta, who led the county into near bankruptcy at the turn of the millennium.

“The residents will now have a clear choice between Weitzman, who left the county nearly bankrupt with a $250 million deficit, and Comptroller Maragos who has restored fiscal stability to the county resulting in three years without a property tax increase,” Jostyn Hernandez, Maragos’ spokesman, said in an email.