For ex-New York State Sen. Jack Martins (R-Old Westbury), running for Nassau County executive may return him to where he started: Mineola, the county seat where he grew up and was first elected.
The GOP nominee for the county’s top job is facing two-term Nassau Legis. Laura Curran (D-Baldwin) and Green Party candidate Cassandra Lems on Election Day. Republican Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, who pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges last year, is not seeking a third term. Martins maintains that his background in business and government gives him the best credentials to get the perennially cash-strapped county’s fiscal house in order.
“We’ve all heard the concept of kicking the can down the road,” Martins said. “For our county, we’ve run out of road. The can has been kicked so far down the road by so many people over so many years—Democrats and Republicans—that we’re now at the point where whoever the next county executive is has to pick up that can.”
Martins, who served four terms as Mineola village mayor before unseating a Democratic state senator in 2010, said he’s the most experienced candidate in the race, making him best equipped to take up the challenge. He touts his chops as a former Albany lawmaker well versed in regional issues and as an executive who led the 13th most populous village in the state.
The married father of four graduated from American University with a degree in political science and communications before getting his JD from St. John’s University School of Law. He was a litigator in private practice and owns the family business, a regional commercial construction company. He’s been in the private sector since he opted against running for re-election to the senate last year when he lost a congressional bid to U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove).
In the senate, he chaired the local government, labor and economic development committees. Among the many bills he passed, he said he’s most proud of those that provided services and job opportunities to veterans when they got back.
On the local level, Martins said he believes the county’s finances, not its ethics, is the most pressing issue.
“We agree that there needs to be ethics reform,” he said. “But the top issue of this race is who’s going to fix the finances of this county that’s been sitting under a financial control board for the last 17 years.”
To get out from under the control of that panel, the state-appointed Nassau Interim Finance Authority, Martins proposes transferring the county’s property tax assessment duties to the towns, which handle the function in nearly every other county in the state, except one other. If elected, he would also focus on workforce development—making sure residents have the skills to fill available jobs—as a part of an overall economic development strategy. Combined efforts to grow the tax base and cut the tens of millions the county pays annually in property tax assessment challenges would help the county stop spending more than it takes in, he said.
“It’s time we address these issues head on,” he said, adding that once the county fixes those problems, it will have better chances of successfully luring Fortune 500 companies to relocate to Nassau.
“I can do it because I’ve done it,” he said of his tenure re-assessing Mineola’s tax rolls, revitalizing its downtown and improving its finances. “I do believe that Nassau County’s best years are still ahead of us.”