The suburban county of Nassau on New York’s Long Island needs a strong, independent district attorney willing to pursue all manner of crimes, political and otherwise. For that reason, Nassau voters have an important choice in Tuesday’s off-year election, between a seasoned prosecutor who has been Nassau’s acting D.A. for the last 10 months and a legal lightweight deeply embedded in the county’s powerful Republican machine.
Madeline Singas, the Democrat in this race, has been serving as Nassau’s acting D.A. since the former occupant, Kathleen Rice, resigned in January to become a member of Congress. Ms. Singas, a prosecutor with 24 years of experience in criminal law, has investigated contracting abuses in the county government, and has prosecuted drug dealers and violent criminals. She has also worked on domestic violence and child abuse cases since her days as an assistant district attorney in Queens.
But she is also a first-time candidate with little of the political agility or name recognition of her Republican opponent, Kate Murray.
Ms. Murray, a lawyer with scant experience in criminal law, has been Hempstead town supervisor since 2003. Until her lack of legal credentials became an issue in this race, Ms. Murray was the clear favorite. She enjoyed the muscular support of a powerful Nassau County Republican machine that includes the former State Senate majority leader, Dean Skelos, now fighting federal corruption charges, and Edward Mangano, the county executive.
Sensing that Ms. Murray was not going to be able to secure this patronage-rich position so easily, other big Republican names have agreed to help out, including former Senator Alfonse D’Amato and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York. Such high-level support could make her less inclined to investigate cronyism within her own party.
Nassau needs a county prosecutor who is willing to enforce the law, no matter where it leads. In neighboring Suffolk County, Thomas Spota, a Democrat, has made a career of bringing down corrupt officials, even in his own party.
Both candidates in this race promise to take on shady dealings in the entrenched, deeply inbred politics of Nassau County, but Ms. Singas has a better opportunity to resist political pressures. Madeline Singas is clearly more qualified for the job of Nassau district attorney.