Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs has tapped Nassau Legis. Laura Curran (D-Baldwin) as his party’s preferred candidate for county executive in the November elections, but she still faces a three-way primary.
Jacobs will ask the Democratic committee to nominate Curran as the first female major party candidate for Nassau executive at their convention in May, he announced Monday at the Long Island Marriot in Uniondale. One of her reported rivals, Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman, announced Sunday that he’ll run for county comptroller instead, and Jacobs said he’s backing that decision. But two other Democratic county exec candidates, current County Comptroller George Maragos and New York State Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove), are expected to challenge her in a primary.
“Our administration will focus on what you know, not who you know,” Curran told hundreds of cheering supporters at the hotel as she referred to current Republican Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano’s alleged kickback scheme. “I know I speak for the taxpayers when I say we have had enough.”
All eyes have been on the race since Mangano pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges in October and rebuffed calls to resign. He has not said whether he’ll seek a third term. So far the Nassau GOP has been mum on who they’ll back as a county exec candidate this fall.
“This county is in dire straights and in need of cleanup,” said Jacobs when he was introducing Curran.
Curran is a two-term county legislator who previously worked as a newspaper reporter and Baldwin school board member. She has sometimes clashed with her own party, even voting with the county legislature’s Republican majority, which she has said shows her independence. Since announcing her campaign, she has proposed ethics reforms aimed at restoring the public’s trust in Nassau government such as enacting term limits, rewriting the county’s whistle-blower law and strengthening financial disclosure guidelines.
Also on hand at the press conference, Schnirman touted his experience in rebuilding the credit rating in the City by the Sea as well as leading the reconstruction of Long Beach after it was decimated by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
“I’ve faced down corruption, fiscal crisis and natural disaster, and I’m ready to be the independent reformer that our county deserves,” Schnirman said in a campaign video announcing his candidacy. “I’m ready to join the fight for reform as your next Nassau County Comptroller.”
Lavine, a former Glen Cove city councilman who chairs the Assembly committee on ethics, said he won’t quit campaiging for the county’s top job despite the party chairman’s decision.
“While I respect the Nassau County Democratic Party Chairman, it remains my firm belief that the citizens of this county deserve a government led by someone who has the experience, strength, independence and integrity to always do what is right, whether politically popular or not, to get us out of the swamp of corruption and self-interest that plagues our county,” he said in a statement. “I will continue to make my case to the voters that I am the best candidate to serve the public interest during these troubled times.”
Maragos—a Republican who switched parties last year to run as a Democrat—traded barbs with Curran.
“The county Democratic boss and the insiders spoke today, the voters will have their say in September,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a spokesman for Maragos’ campaign.
During their news conference, Curran took shots at Maragos, indicating a tough primary campaign is to come.
“Unlike our current comptroller, [Schnirman] won’t be a yes man for anybody,” Curran said. Later, she questioned audits performed by Maragos’ office that determined the cash-strapped county had a surplus.
“A surplus of what?” she asked. “A surplus of investigations?”