Legislative Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt dies

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"Our entire caucus is shocked and saddened by the passing of Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt," Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Uniondale) said in a release. "He was an iconic leader of our Legislature since its inception in 1995. Through his career spent in public service he has left an indelible mark on Nassau County. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."

Schmitt had been the Legislature's presiding officer since the Republicans took over the majority in 2010. He will be succeeded by Norma Gonsalves, a Republican from East Meadow. According to Legislator Denise Ford (R-Long Beach), Gonsalves will most likely serve as presiding officer until the end of next year. A special election will be held soon to fill Schmitt's seat.

"My thoughts and prayers are with his family," said Legislator Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick). "On a personal level, we were always friendly, and we always had a mutual respect for each other. I'll miss my colleague."

Schmitt's death shifts the balance of power in the Legislature away from the Republicans, who outnumbered Democrats 10-9.

"Seldom shy or silent, Peter was a spirited champion for the causes and constituency he represented," said Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray. "County government has lost a dynamic leader, and Nassau County residents are left to cope with the untimely death of a relentless fighter for the public’s well being. On a personal level, I am filled with deep sorrow over the loss of a good friend. My thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Schmitt family."

Due to Schmitt's death, Legislator Carrié Solages posted on his Facebook page that the redistricting meeting that was scheduled for tonight at the County Legislative Building is postponed.

He is survived by his wife, Lois, his daughter, Samantha, and a grandchild.

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