Though Primary Day is 10 weeks away and the general election is four months from now, a meeting that featured Laura Curran, the Nassau County Democratic Committee nominee for county executive, and Jack Schnirman, the committee’s choice for county comptroller, at the Hewlett-Woodmere Public Library, was relatively well-attended by roughly 100 people on July 6.
Originally set for the smaller Boehm Room — capacity 80 — the gathering shifted to the larger Gold Hall — capacity 200 — for the event sponsored by Indivisible groups from the South and North Shore and Manhasset, along with the Five Towns Democratic Club.
Indivisible, which has chapters nationwide, is an advocacy organization that helps chapters funnel their energy and resources to get elected officials to listen to their views.
“Locally, in this political climate, we organize grassroots groups to push for progressive issues,” said Jillian Dahlman Bhatia, from Indivisible Manhasset. “We want to fight gerrymandering and get Ms. Curran elected, and any other Democrats we can.”
Curran, currently the county legislator representing the 5th L.D. and a Baldwin resident, laid out her agenda that includes fighting any health care cuts that hurt Nassau County, battling corruption, proclaiming she supports term limits — the county executive, comptroller the county clerk would be limited to two terms (eight years) and legislators of service, and those in the County Legislature would be limited to six terms (12 years).
“We don’t have a [county] government that lives up to our potential, our greatness,” Curran said. “There is no credibility to propose that vision.”
She said that every penny of taxpayer dollars should be used correctly, the so-called “pay-to-play” system of contributing money to political campaigns to obtain county contracts should end and she will conduct a “line-by-line” review of the budget.
“Get off the sidelines, get involved, get into the arena and fight for what you believe is right,” Curran said.
Schnirman, the city manager for Long Beach for nearly six years, noted his four-point plan to upgrade the county’s finances. It includes improved transparency and opening up the books; conducting audits “to ask the difficult questions,” he said; reforming the contracting system, “the people in charge just don’t care,” he added; and creating an environment where others can report waste, fraud and abuse.
Curran and Schnirman are running against George Maragos and Ama Yawson, respectively for the Democratic nominations. Maragos, the current county comptroller changed his political party affiliation from Republican to Democrat last year. Yawson is a small business owner from Freeport. The primary is Sept. 12.
Maragos said he aims to ban vendor contributions, appoint an inspector general and an independent procurement officer to help ensure contracts and purchases are above reproach, propose public campaign financing that could be supported by ending what he called patronage at the Board Elections and filling the positions with professional civil servants. In addition, he wants to enact term limits. Four terms, eights years for legislators; and two terms, eight years for the top three county posts.
“I want to end the ‘pay-to-play culture,’” he said.
Jack Martins is the Nassau County Republican Committee candidate for county executive and Steve Labriola is the GOP nominee for comptroller. Martins said the county is marred by high taxes, corruption and fiscal instability.
He has stressed the importance of making Nassau more affordable for middle class families and “returning local control” of the county's finances through fiscal responsibility and accountability. The general election is Nov. 7.
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