Nassau Democrats held their party convention Wednesday as they aim to increase their recent gains, most notably with one candidate switching from Republican to Democrat to challenge Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino.
Besides town races, party faithful also gathered to cheer on nominees for county legislative races during the convention at the the Cradle of Aviation in Garden City. GOP Oyster Bay Town Clerk James Altadonna switching parties in a bid to unseat Republican Saladino was the most surprising candidate of the night.
“I think what people in Oyster Bay are anxious for is new, fresh, clean, transparent, honest government,” said Jay Jacobs, who chairs the Nassau and New York State Democratic committees. “That’s what Jim Altadonna brings to the table.”
The Nassau Democrats were the first of Long Island’s four major political party county committees to announce their slate of candidates.
Under New York State’s new election reform law, primaries will be moved front September to June, bumping up the calendar for potential challengers to party nominees.
Altadonna, who was previously Massapequa Park village mayor from 2001 until he assumed his current position as town clerk, said that running on the Democratic line presents to constituents an opportunity to vote for a candidate who truly has their best interests at heart.
“I think a coalition ticket gives people more of a choice,” he said. “It says, ‘Hey, I am not picking a party, I am picking qualified candidates who are there to serve the residents.’”
If elected, Altadonna said he’d propose setting term limits for elected officials of no more than 10 years, putting a halt on wasteful spending, focusing on road restoration and infrastructure, and eliminating excessive attorney fees that are paid by residents in representing town employees that are questioned by law enforcement.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran rallied the attendees to re-elect North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth and Hempstead Supervisor Town Laura Gillen and flip the county legislature, where the GOP has an 11-8 majority.
“I think voters are looking for grassroots real people to run for office who can really represent them,” Curran said. “I think they’re sick of do nothing politicians who are not doing the right things for the right reasons, they are doing the wrong things for their own reason. People are looking for a change.”
Besides nominating the eight Democratic county legislators for re-election, the party endorsed eight challengers to Republican county legislators, but didn’t have designations for three other races. The challengers include Debra Siegel against Legis. Howard Kopel (R-Lawrence), Barbara Hafner against Legis. Vincent Muscarella (R-West Hempstead), Mal Nathan against Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park), Michael Pesce against Legis. James Kennedy (R-Massapequa), Jennifer Rosenkrantz against Legis. Thomas McKevitt (R-East Meadow), Michael Maloney against Legis. Laura Schaefer (R-Westbury), Fran Avnet against Legis. John R. Ferretti Jr. (R-Levittown), and Alan Foley against Legis. Rose Marie Walker (R-Hicksville).