Fewer than 10 percent of registered Nassau County Democrats turned out for the Sept. 12 county executive primary that pitted County Legislator Laura Curran, a longtime Baldwin resident, against County Comptroller George Maragos, a former Republican turned Democrat.
Still, Curran, who won the primary with nearly 80 percent of the vote, said she saw her win as a decisive victory. “It was really a validation that the message of ending the culture of corruption and giving Nassau County the fresh start it deserves is a message that really resonates in all of our communities, she said.
“It’s not a Democratic issue,” Curran continued. “It’s not a Republican issue. It’s just common sense”
When all of the precincts were counted, Curran had defeated Maragos, 23,093 votes to 6,265.
She will now face Republican State Sen. Jack Martins, of Mineola, in the Nov. 7 general election. Shortly after the primary, Martins released a statement welcoming Curran to the county executive race, but noted what he called “historically low turnout” in the primary. According to the Nassau County Board of Elections, 30,195 Democratic ballots were cast in the primary, out of 396,254 registered in the party as of April. That’s a turnout of roughly 8 percent — slightly below numbers for the 2013 Democratic primary between Tom Suozzi and Adam Haber.
“This election is about the future of Nassau County, and electing someone with the experience and qualifications to deal with the challenges that face us,” said Martins, a former mayor of Mineola. “Laura Curran wants to make this about the past, but we must look ahead … It seems the strategy of looking back hasn’t excited Democratic voters, which doesn’t bode well for Democrats in the general election.”
Curran said she was unperturbed by the primary turnout. “Primary turnout is low. That’s just a general rule,” she said. “But there’s a lot of passion and momentum behind [my] candidacy, and it’s building every day, and it’s very exciting.”
She held her primary victory party in Freeport. “Tonight sends a clear message that Nassau County is ready to chart a new path,” she said after declaring victory. “There is a better future for Nassau County than what we’ve experienced these last eight years. We can end this pervasive culture of corruption. We can do away with the entrenched status quo. And, if we work together, we can give Nassau the fresh start it so sorely needs.”
Maragos made a brief statement on Twitter, conceding to Curran and offering her his support in the general election.
Curran had the backing of the Nassau County Democratic Committee and numerous sitting and former elected officials, as well as labor groups, while Maragos touted himself and a team of county clerk and comptroller candidates as “independent Democrats” who enjoyed the support of many minority organizations.
Throughout the race, Curran hammered the message that Nassau deserved “a fresh start,” and vowed to end a perceived culture of cronyism and corruption in Mineola. After declaring victory, she took a pre-emptive shot at Martins, calling him a “typical career politician.”
“Nassau County taxpayers don’t want any more of the machine’s tried-and-failed status quo,” she said. “They don’t want another typical career politician who’s only going to fight for themselves and their cronies. And they certainly don’t want someone who stared corruption in the face, and looked the other way. After tonight’s resounding victory, we look forward to going on to victory in November.”
Curran, a mother of three, is a former Baldwin School District Board of Education trustee, newspaper editor and reporter. In 2000, she served for six months as a Herald Community Newspapers editor. She has also been a freelance reporter for The Daily News and New York Post, and a yoga instructor. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Sarah Lawrence College.
In other news
In the race for District 5 county legislator, there was to be a Democratic primary between Freeport Village Truste Debra Mulé and Baldwinite Reginald Nicholas. That primary, however, never took place. Mulé challenged Nicholas’s petition signatures to get on the Sept. 12 ballot, after which Nicholas dropped out of the race, so Mulé will now face Republican Kathleen Spatz, of South Hempstead.
Daine Taylor contributed to this story.