Heart Attack Fells Nassau Legislative Leader Wed.

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By Danielle Puma

Nassau County Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa), a 17-year county Legislator, died suddenly on Wednesday when he collapsed of a heart attack at a meeting with County Executive Edward Mangano and County Comptroller George Maragos. Schmitt was rushed to Winthrop Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 11:55 a.m. He was 62.

“Nassau County has lost a dedicated public servant. My wife Linda and I lost a friend of over 20 years. I had the privilege of serving closely with Peter in the Legislature since its creation in 1996, where he distinguished himself as an outspoken advocate for the residents of the 12th Legislative District,” said Mangano.

Schmitt’s death leaves the Nassau County Legislature with a 9-9 tie between Republicans and Democrats. Norma Gonsalves, a Republican from East Meadow and the chamber’s deputy presiding officer, will temporarily fulfill the position as the legislature’s presiding officer.

Lawmakers are due to vote on the proposed 2013 budget by the end of October. County officials will see if the passage of the budget can be pushed back by several weeks. Mangano will call for a special election to fill Schmitt’s seat within 30 to 60 days and both parties will choose a nominee in the coming weeks. The seat will remain vacant until then.

“Nassau County is a better place because of Peter’s leadership, commitment and compassion and he will be greatly missed,” said Mangano.

Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray said she and her fellow Town Board members are deeply saddened by Schmitt’s sudden passing.

“Seldom shy or silent, Peter was a spirited champion for the causes and constituency he represented. County government has lost a dynamic leader, and Nassau County residents are left to cope with the untimely death of a relentless fighter for the public’s well being. On a personal level, I am filled with deep sorrow over the loss of a good friend. My thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Schmitt family,” said Murray.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY4) said she was shocked after learning of Schmitt’s passing.

“Like many today I’m shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of Presiding Officer Schmitt. I know that he fought for his constituents with great enthusiasm and passion.  My thoughts and prayers are with his family,” said McCarthy.

Mangano ordered flags to be flown at half-staff on County government buildings beginning Wednesday, October 3rd through Tuesday, October 9th in honor of Schmitt’s service to the residents of Nassau County.

The hearings on the 2013 budget for Oct. 5th and Oct. 11th have both been cancelled. The next meeting will take place on Oct. 29th.

A viewing will be held at Massapequa Funeral Home located at 4980 Merrick Road in Massapequa Park on Saturday, October 6th and Sunday, October 7th from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Funeral services will take place at Saint Rose of Lima located at 2 Bayview Avenue in Massapequa on Monday, October 8th at 11:00 a.m.

Schmitt is survived by his wife, Lois, and daughter, Samantha.

“Peter was a loving husband, father and most recently a doting grandfather.  My deepest sympathies go out to his wife Lois, his daughter Samantha and his entire family,” said Mangano.

 

 

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