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Attorney, volunteer will vie to replace Vincent Muscarella

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The race to represent Nassau County’s 8th Legislative District is heating up, as both Republicans and Democrats have selected their nominees to succeed Legislator Vincent Muscarella in November’s election.

Muscarella, of West Hempstead, has served the district — which encompasses Franklin Square, Floral Park, West Hempstead and parts of Elmont and Stewart Manor — since the County Legislature was founded in 1995, but has now decided to run for county District Court judge in the 2nd District, which includes the Town of Hempstead and the City of Long Beach.

County Republicans are hoping to replace Muscarella with John Giuffré, a nearly 30-year resident of Stewart Manor, whom Joseph Cairo, the county Republican chairman, called “a latter-day Vinny Muscarella.”

Like Muscarella, Giuffré, 57, is a trial lawyer. He is a graduate of Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, where he was editor of the Journal of International Law. He worked for a corporate law firm in Manhattan before deciding in 2007 to start his own firm in Stewart Manor focusing on personal injury cases. He serves on the Nassau County Bar Association’s Ethics Committee.

Giuffré has worked on the Village of Stewart Manor’s 75th Anniversary Committee, and is a member of the village’s zoning board. He is also involved in the local Lions Club, and when many graduation ceremonies were canceled last year because of Covid-19, Giuffré and his wife, Lauren, bought every local graduate — whether they were graduating from preschool or high school — a Carvel gift card.

“He’s just a nice guy,” Cairo said. “He’ll do a good job, we feel, in representing the 8th District.”

But Giuffré said he did not expect the Nassau Republican Club to ask him to run for Muscarella’s seat, and when it did, he said he was humbled and honored.

“I see elected office as a public servant,” he explained, adding that if he were elected, he would try to work with his colleagues to reduce taxes. He brought that platform to his neighbors, many of whom, he said, saw their property values increase under the county’s reassessment system, and has received “a very positive response.”

Nadia Holubnyczyj, of Floral Park, however, said she believed that Republicans have controlled the 8th District seat “for far too long,” and is the Democratic nominee.

She decided to run when she still thought Muscarella would seek re-election, claiming that he “only parrots what his party puts out” and has not been active in the community since the Covid pandemic began last year.

“I believe the party’s become apathetic,” Holubnyczyj said, noting in a statement that “the Nassau Republican machine has engaged in self-serving politics . . . [using] their power to take advantage of the system for themselves and politically connected friends” and “have no regard for the responsibility with which we have entrusted them.”

“I do not work that way,” Holubnyczyj, 52, continued in her statement. “It is wrong and against my principles.”

She explained to the Herald that she “always wants to give back,” and has served on her children’s school Parent Teacher Association and as a president of the Hillcrest Civic Association. She has lived in Floral Park with her husband, Marco, and their two sons, Alexander and William, for about 20 years, and she has served on various village committees, including the Citizens with Disabilities Committee, with which she advocated for elevators at the Floral Park Long Island Rail Road station. Holubnyczyj has osteogenesis imperfecta, a rare genetic disability that affects the formation of the bones, and uses a wheelchair.

“We look for more and more inclusion,” Jay Jacobs, chairman of the Nassau County Democratic Committee, said of selecting Holubnyczyj as the party’s nominee for the 8th District seat, noting that she would represent over 100,000 Nassau County residents with disabilities.

But she is also a force in Floral Park, Jacobs said. She fought against a proposal to build a casino at Belmont Park in 2016, and during the pandemic she started the Nassau County Chapter of Frontline Foods — an offspring of the World Central Kitchen that raises funds to pay local restaurants for meals for front-line workers and food-insecure families. After a fire burned down many longstanding businesses on Covert Avenue last December, Holubnyczyj raised over $25,000 to help the community rebuild.

“If I was able to do this as a private citizen,” she said, “imagine what I could do if elected.”

She said she would advocate for more police reform and an end to hate crimes, and would work with County Executive Laura Curran on property assessments. “I believe Laura Curran is doing a phenomenal job,” Holubnyczyj said. “She’s addressing the issues succinctly.”

Holubnyczyj ran for village trustee in Floral Park two years ago. It was the first contested race in the village in 10 years and, though she did not win, she garnered 45 percent of the vote.

“I think she’s going to run a very formidable campaign,” Jacobs said, adding, “I think this is a race to watch.”