Mangano calls for special election to replace majority leader


A special election to replace Nassau County Legislator Peter Schmitt will be held on Election Day, Nov. 6. Schmitt, the Legislature’s majority leader and presiding officer, who represented the 12th District since 1995, died suddenly of a heart attack on Oct. 3. He was 62.

According to the county charter, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano had 60 days to declare a special election after Schmitt’s death, and was required to give 30 days’ notice. He called for the election over the weekend, which will allow for the Election Day vote. Since voting machines will already be prepared and county workers will be deployed at polling places, the county will not incur the cost of holding a separate special election.

The Democratic and Republican committees are responsible for choosing candidates for the election. Candidates must be registered voters, and they must live in the district. The 12th District encompasses Massapequa, Massapequa Park and parts of Seaford and North Massapequa.

Republican spokesman Tony Santino, a Town of Hempstead councilman, said last week, “Out of respect for Peter Schmitt and his family, no one is giving any thought to [a special election] until after the wake and the burial.” Schmitt’s funeral Mass was scheduled for Monday at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Massapequa.

A representative of the Democratic caucus could not be reached before the Herald went to press.

Schmitt, who lived in Massapequa, had been the presiding officer of the Legislature since 2010, when Republicans reclaimed the majority. Norma Gonsalves, a Republican from East Meadow, is filling in as interim presiding officer.

“It’s a terrible time,” said Gonsalves. “We lost a very dedicated public servant. But the business of government must go on, and that’s what Peter would have wanted.”

That business includes passing the county budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year, which must be approved by Oct. 30. Since the special election will occur after that date, the current Legislature must vote on the spending plan. It now comprises nine Democrats and nine Republicans, and a majority vote is required to pass the budget, meaning that it must be approved by representatives of both parties.

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