Republican Bruce Blakeman has officially taken the reins as Nassau County executive, marking a tonal shift in county leadership from his predecessor Laura Curran, a Democrat who served since 2018 and helped lead Nassau through the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Blakeman was inaugurated on Monday at a ceremony of about 400 attendees at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City. In a speech, he doubled down on his campaign promise to keep Nassau safe from crime, as well as his more recent decision to not enforce New York State’s Covid mask mandates in businesses.
“I will be happy to join with our new district attorney, Annie Donnelly, and our law enforcement professionals to go up to Albany and demand the repeal of the Bail Reform Act,” Blakeman said. “Criminals have more rights than victims. Enough is enough.”
Regarding the mask mandate, he added, “Government has an important role in giving people options to create a healthier environment. But government should not act in a heavy-handed way by curtailing important constitutional rights, such as the right of patients and their physicians to make healthcare decisions.”
Nassau County Comptroller Elaine Phillips and Nassau County Clerk Maureen O’Connell were also sworn into office during the ceremony that drew criticism for gathering hundreds of people indoors during a sharp surge in Covid cases.
William Biamonte, chief of staff of the Nassau County Legislature’s Democratic minority caucus, issued a statement Monday criticizing the decision to hold the ceremony.
“At a time when Long Island’s positivity rate continues to soar, it would have been most prudent to postpone this ceremonial gathering in the interest of preventing a potential super-spreader event,” he said. “However, the county executive chose to proceed, and we hope that everyone who attended took every possible precaution to protect themselves and others.”
Long Island’s Covid-19 positivity rate on a seven-day average was nearly 25% on Monday, the highest in the state.
Blakeman nevertheless was sworn in before the crowd by his wife, Segal, who administered the oath of office.
“My vision for Nassau County is for us to become the most exciting and vibrant place to live. Not just in America, but in the world,” Blakeman said. “We will dare to be bold. We will leave no community behind.”