NBC New York
Voters head to the polls to elect a newcomer to the job of Suffolk County Executive. Greg Cergol has more on the candidates.
A woman candidate hoping to make history and a longtime town supervisor are vying for the seat of Suffolk county executive.
Angie Carpenter, the current county treasurer, is the first woman to run for Suffolk's highest elected post.
Steve Bellone has served as Babylon supervisor for 10 years.
With voters heading to the polls that close at 9 p.m., both candidates expressed "cautious optimism" about a political victory.
The candidates have been criss-crossing the county of more than 1 million people to campaign for the job now held by Republican Steve Levy, who is being chased from office by campaign finance problems.
Bellone has outspent his GOP opponent, but insisted his record will be what attracts voters.
"We have a real record of success in Babylon," Bellone said Tuesday. "We have made government more efficient and more effective."
Carpenter called her best asset her nearly 20 years of experience as county treasurer and county legislator.
"He's not ready," said Carpenter of her foe. "He's too young. He needs to grow up a little."
Carpenter voted near her West Islip home this morning. Bellone cast his ballot in West Babylon.
Both acknowledged they are trying to woo an angry electorate upset with the handling of the lackluster economy.
"Taxes! The big issue is taxes," said Bob of West Islip after casting his ballot.. "It's never-ending."
"I'd like to see them be able to find something to help people out of work," added Nancy Stoneburner of West Islip.
The winner of this race will be handed control of a county budget with a more than $100 million dollar shortfall for next year. Both candidates refused comment on reports that the Suffolk legislature is considering a tax increase to help eliminate the red ink.
Both Bellone and Carpenter did insist that turning around the local economy will be "job one."
"Starting tomorrow, we will be working on strategies for growing this economy," said Bellone.
"The motto has been "fighting to make Suffolk a great place to live, not leave," said Carpenter.