November 9, 2011
Election wins, losses go beyond candidates
There was no surge of angry, bitter voters tossing out every incumbent in sight; nor was there any sign of an anti-President Barack Obama effect. Really, when was the last time national dissatisfaction soaked into more than a hundred local, off-year elections?
Nonetheless, the winning and losing across Long Island went beyond the candidates themselves.
In Nassau, public and private unions had vowed to push incumbent Republican legislators from office and shift the balance of power back toward Democrats.
That didn't happen Election Night. Instead, three of the races remain contested. What does that mean for the unions?
Probably nothing. Because they've got nothing to lose, even if Republicans maintain a majority -- which means that the stalemate between County Executive Edward Mangano and union leaders over negotiating for savings in Nassau's budget likely will continue.
Tuesday, meanwhile, was grand for the emerging blocks of black, Latino and immigrant voters on Long Island [largely organized through the work of Make the Road NY].
In Nassau, Haitian-American and other minority and immigrant groups turned out in force in Nassau's Third Legislative District to support Democrat Carrié (correctly pronounced CARY-EH, with an accent above the e) Solages, the son of Haitian immigrants, who has an unofficial 400-vote lead over veteran Republican John Ciotti.
The race pulled 11,049 voters to the polls, compared to the 10,906 who voted in the contest in 2009, according to unofficial results -- which makes it an anomaly. In the other tight races in Nassau, voter turnout dropped.
In Suffolk, excitement generated by the first-ever county executive debate in the Brentwood/Bay Shore/Central Islip area apparently paid off, too.
According to unofficial figures, the district also saw an increase in voters over 2009. The number is small (5,083 Tuesday compared to 2,853 in 2009) but the percentage increase (78 percent) is big.
And it continues a trend of higher voter participation that began in 2009, when 25 percent more voters went to the polls than in 2007.
Tuesday also worked out well for a multi-party coalition of Suffolk lawmakers who proposed -- gasp! -- an increase in the police tax for most county residents as part of a first-ever six-month budget for Suffolk.
Every single (not term-limited) lawmaker won back their seat, which would appear to show that governing tough, but responsibly, can be a good combination.
By contrast, in Islip, incumbent Town Supervisor Philip Nolan -- who had a string of no-tax-increase budgets -- appears to have been defeated. Which shows that no taxes is not necessarily a winning formula, either. (Especially, it appears, against a slate of young, energetic candidates).
In Long Beach, which is becoming more Republican, Democrats took back the town board; in Glen Cove, which is Democrat, Republicans gained a firm foothold. In Huntington, Republicans gained a second seat on a mostly Democrat town board.
Although turnout appears -- as expected -- to have been low, voters peppered enough changes across Nassau and Suffolk to make things interesting.
Which is a good thing, because with the challenges Long Island is facing, every elected official has a tough job ahead.
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