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Anne Donnelly, Nassau County's New District Attorney, On Her Goals In Office: 'A Big Responsibility That I Take Seriously'

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- There wasn't supposed to be a contest for district attorney in Nassau County this year. But when the former county prosecutor, Madeline Singas, was appointed to a judgeship, both parties scrambled.

And the Republicans came out on top -- in an unexpected landslide.

CBS2's Jennifer McLogan introduces us to Anne Donnelly, a seasoned veteran of the prosecutor's office.

Donnelly led Long Island's red wave.

"I was surprised," Donnelly said. "I never expected on Election Night it to be that big."

It was a stunning landslide. Career prosecutor Donnelly upset State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a former federal prosecutor, after she turned the campaign into a referendum on New York's controversial bail reform law.

"My message was about crime and safety and how they went too far. The bail reform went too far. There should be some place in the middle. Discretion for the judges is one of the first things they need to give back," Donnelly said.

For 32 years, Donnelly prosecuted for the office she will now lead. She credits her family.

"You can't work full time and be a mom unless you have a great partner, and I have for the last 30 years with my husband," she said.

The Donnellys of Garden City have three grown children.

"My son is a special needs young man, and he just brings a lot of life and joy to my life," she said.

Donnelly said she is not political and was very close to her Democratic predecessors Kathleen Rice and Singas.

"When my daughters said, 'You deserve this mom, because you've worked 32 years for this,' it just made my day," she said. "It's good to be a strong female role model."

One of her goals is to invest enthusiasm and pride back into the lives of the assistant district attorneys.

"They are kind of beaten down and overwhelmed by all these changes in discovery and bail," she said. "I want them to get the feeling back that I had as a young ADA. This is the best job in the world."

"Your job is life changing for so many people," said McLogan.

"Yes, it is. It's a big responsibility that I take seriously," Donnelly replied. "My goal has always been and my promise was to run a great office, a fair office, a just office."

CBS2 also asked the new Suffolk County district attorney, Republican Ray Tierney, for an interview following his shocking upset of Democrat Tim Sini, but he declined, saying he wasn't ready at this time.

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