Howard Kopel replaces Nicolello as Nassau County Legislature’s presiding officer

Howard Kopel replaces Nicolello as Nassau County Legislature’s presiding officer
Nassau County Presiding Officer Howard Kopel speaks after being sworn in on Friday, Jan. 5. (Photo courtesy of Nassau County)

Nassau County Legislator Howard Kopel (R-Lawrence) of the county’s 7th Legislative District has been named the Legislature’s presiding officer. 

Kopel, who has served as the deputy presiding officer since 2018, replaces ex-Legislator Rich Nicolello, who did not seek re-election in November after serving the county for over two decades. Nicolello, of New Hyde Park, has since been named the North Hempstead town attorney. 

Filling out the rest of the leadership positions include East Meadow’s Tom McKevitt as deputy presiding officer and Levittown’s John Ferretti as the alternate deputy presiding officer. 

“As we begin a new legislative term, I want to welcome all the new legislators from both sides of the aisle and emphasize that while we might disagree on some things, we will be able to work together on many more to create a better government for the residents of Nassau County,” Kopel said after being sworn in Jan. 5 at the Peter J. Schmitt Legislative Chamber. “I look forward to our first official legislative meeting and rolling our sleeves up to start getting work done.”

On the Democratic side, the minority caucus will be headed by Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D-Glen Cove) of the county’s 11th Legislative District. The 12-year legislator replaced Kevan Abrahams, who served as the caucus’ leader since 2012 but stepped down after not seeking re-election in November. 

County Republicans maintained their 12-7 majority this election cycle in the Legislature, which has five new representatives. Former Mineola Mayor Scott Strauss, a Republican, won the election for the 9th District, replacing Nicolello; Republican Patrick Mullaney won the election for the 4th District; Republican Samantha Goetz defeated Democrat Josh Lafazan for the 18th District; Democrat Scott Davis won the election for the 1st District; and Democrat Seth Koslow won the election for the 5th District. 

Professionally, Kopel owns a national title insurance and settlement business in Valley Stream. He was re-elected to his eighth two-year term in November to represent his district, which includes the Five Towns and some of the surrounding areas. 

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