November 01, 2006

Two Vie For County Clerk

Two history-making women face off in the race for Suffolk County Clerk. Incumbent Judy Pascale, the Republican contender, was the first woman in county history ever named chief deputy county clerk. Last year, Governor George Pataki named her to fill the top spot, left vacant when Ed Romaine began his term as county legislator.

Her Democratic challenger, Vivian Viloria-Fisher, currently a county legislator, made history in 1999 when she won a special election by the widest margin ever. She is currently the Deputy Presiding Officer of the county body.

Throughout her service on the horseshoe, Viloria-Fisher, whose district includes East Setauket, has totted up a variety of legislative successes. In 2004, she spearheaded the landmark $75 million bond referendum for the preservation of open space and farmland. The measure also included an affordable housing component. Some environmentalists opposed including the component, but Viloria-Fisher insisted on its inclusion.

More recently, she displayed independence, voting against County Executive Steve Levy's controversial immigration proposal. In campaign literature and television ads, Viloria-Fisher vows to safeguard documents filed with the county clerk's office as if they were her own. She wants to "bring smart government to the office of county clerk."

For Pascale's money, smart government is already there. Last year under her stewardship, the Suffolk County clerk's office was named the best in the state. Clerks from around the state, the country and even international officials have toured the Riverhead digs to see how the office operates.

Speaking to The Independent last week, Pascale frequently credited the 135 people who work in the clerk's office. "I have the best employees in the county," she said. "I am very proud of this staff and its record." Recently, Pascale submitted a budget for the office that not only includes a zero percent increase for the year, but transfers county cars from her department to the county office of child protective services. "I heard they were short cars, and they need them more than we do," she said. Altogether, Pascale has worked in the clerk's office for 16 years.

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