Former Nassau County Executive Tom Gulotta dies at age 75

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MINEOLA -

Former Nassau County Executive Tom Gulotta, a towering figure in Long Island politics, died Sunday.

Gulotta was a Republican who served as Nassau County executive from 1987 until 2001. The longtime North Merrick resident was 75 years old.

Gulotta first served as a state assemblyman and Hempstead town supervisor before becoming county executive.

"We send all of our best wishes to his family, to Betsey, to his children, and we thank him for his service to the residents of Nassau County. May he rest in peace," said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. Curran directed flags in the county be flown at half-staff.

In 2001, with the county mired in a fiscal crisis, Gulotta declined to seek re-election. For many, his name remains synonymous with the fiscal woes that plagued the county then, and to a certain extent, still do today. But some say that criticism is unfair.

"It wasn't Gulotta's fault that the party he represented was very much against new taxes," says political analyst Jerry Kremer. "He didn't start that policy, the party resisted raising taxes, and as a result his budgets got tougher and tougher, through no fault of his own."

Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen released a statement on Gulotta's passing that reads, "As a lifelong resident of North Merrick, Tom advocated fiercely for our communities and dedicated his life to public service. Having served his constituents on the local and state level, Tom's experience and tenacity proved vital as he led this County for over a decade. My deepest sympathies to his family and loved ones. He will be missed."

Rep. Peter King served as Nassau's comptroller during Gulotta's early years as county executive. He called him "one of the most dedicated, hard-working government officials I've ever encountered."

The Nassau Legislature's current presiding officer, Rich Nicolello, says the way Gulotta carried himself really left a lasting impression with him.

"I'd say his legacy was the professionalism and dignity he brought to the office," says Nicolello. "It really elevated the office, especially in these times, and it really is something that we can look back to as to how a public official should behave."

Nassau Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs described Gulotta as a man who "demonstrated class when things went his way and grace when they did not."

Nassau Republican Chairman Joe Cairo served alongside Gulotta on the Hempstead Town Board. He tells News 12, "We shared lunch less than a week ago, and Tom Gulotta's native charm and keen intellect were in full evidence. His passing will leave a void in the lives of all who knew him."

 

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