After serving on the County Legislature for 20 years, Norma Gonsalves, Nassau’s presiding officer, announced on Thursday that she would not seek re-election this November.
Gonsalves, 82, a Republican who lives in East Meadow, was elected as the county’s presiding officer in November 2012, after her predecessor Peter Schmitt died suddenly of a heart attack that same year. Elected in 1997, Gonsalves serves the 13th Legislative District, comprising East Meadow, Salisbury and portions of North Bellmore, North Merrick, North Wantagh, Seaford and Levittown.
“Since being elevated to presiding officer after the sudden death of Peter Schmitt, I have done my best to lead this body with integrity and transparency, which have been my guiding principles over the County Legislature,” Gonsalves said in a statement.
Gonsalves’ campaign committee, Friends of Norma Gonsalves, was fined $14,000 last year for violating campaign finance disclosure laws eight times between 2013 and 2015 by a State Supreme Court justice. Democratic Legislative Candidate Eileen Napolitano, who first challenged Gonsalves’ 13th Legislative District seat in 2015, said that Gonsalves’ announcement is a sign that the county’s taxpayers have reached a boiling point.
“Norma finally realized that Nassau County taxpayers are fed up with rampant corruption and aren’t going to buy her, and her party’s, stock of goods this November,” Napolitano, of East Meadow, said in a statement. “Today’s announcement is just more proof that the taxpayers are ready to hit the reset button.”
Napolitano is expected to be nominated by the county’s Democratic Party this month to officially run for Gonsalves’ seat once again this November. “I wish Norma the best of luck in the future and know that she will still have an active voice on the community level,” Napolitano said.
Before settling in the Legislature, Gonsalves was a civic leader in East Meadow. She is the founder and past president of the Council of East Meadow Community Organizations and is the project director for Crime Watch and Civilian Patrol. She serves as a delegate to CEMCO from the Wentwood Oaks Civic Association and is an active East Meadow Chamber of Commerce member. She has served on the Kiwanis Club of East Meadow’s Board of Directors and served as a chairwoman to the East Meadow Bicentennial Committee.
Throughout her time on the Legislature, Gonsalves said that lowering crime and implementing NARCAN training programs across the county are two of her biggest accomplishments.
“On a personal level, I take pride in establishing the Hispanic Heritage Month and outreach to the Latino community, establishing a Veterans Clinic at NUMC and sustaining the Cornell Cooperative Farm in East Meadow,” she said. “I have kept my commitment to the homeowners and taxpayers by holding the line on property taxes and improving the fiscal stability of this county by closing the deficit, increasing jobs, cutting spending, reducing patronage and increasing the rainy day fund, just to name few.”
The East Meadow Fire Department will honor Gonsalves this Sunday with a Decade of Service Award for her support of the department’s annual EMS Brunch Ceremony for the past 11 years.
Gonsalves said that although she plans to spend time with her family and grandchildren, she will remain active in the community.