Norma Gonsalves picked to lead Legislature


Norma Gonsalves was recently elected presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature. She was formally voted in on Nov. 19 by the Republican caucus, which holds a 10-9 majority in the Legislature.

“I’m honored that my colleagues had confidence in me to vote me in as presiding officer,” said Gonsalves. “I will always continue to work in behalf of not only the residents in my district, but in Nassau County, with the same level of dedication and commitment.”

Gonsalves had been the interim presiding officer since early October, when Peter Schmitt died suddenly of a heart attack. Schmitt had served as presiding officer since 2010.

Elected in 1997, Gonsalves serves the 13th Legislative District, comprising East Meadow, Salisbury and portions of North Bellmore, North Merrick and Levittown. “This is something I’ve been doing for a long time without the title,” she said. “Because this is who I am, and will continue to be who I am.”

“Norma Gonsalves is a great public servant, and I congratulate her on becoming Nassau County’s presiding officer,” said County Executive Ed Mangano.

Gonsalves said she has two priorities for the near future. The first is to hold public hearings to discuss what went wrong with certain county facilities during Hurricane Sandy, most prominently the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant, which saw its equipment damaged by severe flooding caused by the storm. “We have to see what has happened … and see why it happened and how we can avoid it happening again,” said Gonsalves.

Her other priority is to find revenue for county youth agencies that have seen major cuts over the past year.

As presiding officer, Gonsalves said, she would emphasize bipartisan cooperation between Republicans and Democrats. “I can work with both sides of the Legislature,” she said. “This is what it should be all about, and we should make sure whatever we’re doing is the right thing on behalf of our residents in Nassau County.”

Gonsalves received a bachelor of arts degree in history from St. Joseph’s College for Women and a master of arts degree from Hunter College and Brooklyn College. She was an educator for 25 years in the New York City school system.

She lives in East Meadow with her husband, John. They are the parents of three children, three grandsons and a granddaughter.