Republican incumbent Joseph Belesi has been officially re-elected to the 14th district seat of the Nassau County Legislature after a month-long counting of absentee ballots and machine audit.
A judge certified his win over Democratic challenger Eva Pearson on Monday. The final vote tally was not immediately available from the Board of Elections, but Belesi said he was told he won by 107 votes, which gives Republicans a 10-9 majority in the legislature.
"It's a win for the people of Nassau County," Belesi said on Monday. "It was a difficult month and a difficult campaign with many personal attacks, but I tried to stay above it all and plan to continue to do what I've doing, working to control the tax situation."
Since Election Day, when Belesi topped Pearson by just 51 votes and the race was declared too close to call, the Board of Elections called back all the voting machines and suitcases and then inventoried absentee and affidavit ballots by legislative district. There were 522 absentee ballots and 32 affidavit ballots, the hand signed ballots for District 14.
Absentee ballots were accepted until Nov. 15 as long as they were postmarked by Nov. 7. After all the absentee ballots Belesi was ahead by 85 votes for the seat.
There were 114 ballots challenged during the counting that a judge had to rule on before a winner could be named, but according to Board of Elections Chief Clerk Bonnie Garone, all ballot challenges were resolved outside of court.
The mandatory canvas of three percent of the county's voting machines passed the audit, Garone added.
"The next couple of months our work will be to cut while making sure we don't give up services to the county," Belesi said. "We must keep working to correct this. We live in the highest taxed county in the highest taxed state in the country and people have had it. They can't afford it anymore."
Pearson called her the race an "extraordinary experience" and says she hopes to remain active in the community.
"I wish Legislator Belesi and the people of the 14th Legislative District the best of luck as we move forward during these troubling times in Nassau County, " she said.
The outcome of this race had the potential to shift party control in the legislature for the next term. After Election Day, Republicans took an 11-8 majority, with slim leads in the inconclusive 14th and 18th district races.
In District 18, Democratic Glen Cove City Councilwoman Delia DeRiggi-Whitton ultimately beat Republican opponent Rob Germino and on election night Democrat Carrie Solages edged out eight-term Legis. John Ciotti, R-Valley Stream.
Belesi is a retired Nassau County Police Department supervisor who has represented the 14th Legislative District since 2009. The 14th district covers parts of North Massapequa, East Massapequa, Seaford, North Wantagh, Levittown, Old Bethpage, Bethpage, Plainedge, Farmingdale and South Farmingdale.