Fewer women lead in Suffolk
Suffolk women have
lost ground since 2002 in the county legislature, compared
with Nassau County and New York City, according to a new
Women make up only 16.7 percent
of the Suffolk Legislature, or three seats out of 18. That is
an 11 percent decline from four years ago and earned the
county a grade of "unsatisfactory" in a report from the
University of Rochester's Susan B. Anthony Center for Women's
In Nassau, women make up 26.3 percent of
the legislature, or five of 19 members. And 35.3 percent of
the New York City Council is female.
The Nassau ratio
represents a gain of 10.5 percent from the center's 2002
survey and earned a B+ grade. The improvement was credited to
the election of legislators Denise Ford (R-Long Beach) and
Diane Yatauro (D-Glen Cove), and the presiding officership
remaining in the hands of Judith Jacobs of
New York City received an A+, posting a gain
of 9.8 percent in four years, including the selection of
Democrat Christine Quinn of Manhattan as council
"The progress of women is not that straight
line up on the graph," said Nora Bredes, a former Suffolk
legislator who has directed the Rochester center since 1999.
"But there are areas where women are doing quite well, such as
district attorneys; we have 11 female DAs [out of 62] across
New York, including Kathleen Rice in Nassau."
and others speculated that the continued dearth of female
legislators was because of nasty campaigns, high-profile
corruption cases and greater attention on security issues
following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota's aggressive
pursuit of public corruption, Bredes said, "may have turned
off women from becoming engaged because politics looks to be
more about cronyism than idealism." Bredes, a Democrat,
opposed the Shoreham nuclear plant, served in the Suffolk
Legislature in 1992-98 and ran unsuccessfully for Congress in
County Clerk Judith A. Pascale, who last week won
her first election, said some women may be discouraged from
public office "because campaigns are dirty ... you have to
have the stomach for it and a lot of people don't." She
defeated Bredes' successor in the legislature, Deputy
Presiding Officer Vivian Viloria-Fisher (D-Setauket).
The other female lawmakers are Kate M. Browning
(WFP-Shirley) and Lynne Nowick (R-St. James).
Suffolk's discouraging numbers - there were five legislators
in Bredes' day - she remains optimistic. "It's a slow
revolution, but it's a revolution nonetheless."
T. Madore on Long Island
Looking forward, with hope
McCarthy (D-Mineola) celebrated the Democrats' high hopes
Tuesday night when it became clear that her party would win
control of the House of Representatives for the first time in
In between verses of "Ain't No Stopping Us
Now," McCarthy, flanked all night by grandchildren Denis, 8,
and Grace, 7, tried to tell the Westbury crowd of Democratic
supporters what they wanted to hear.
"It's going to be
wonderful to go to the Rules Committee and offer an amendment
and watch it have a chance," she said. "On homeland security,
we can do as good a job - if not better - than the
- Reid J. Epstein on Long