In 2017, it’s nigh impossible to get voters on the left and right of the political spectrum to agree on almost anything, but in Nassau County, this year’s election appears to have Republicans and Democrats united on one point: Change is needed in county government.
In our view, Democrat Laura Curran is the best candidate to bring that change.
At this time last year, headlines were dominated by a scandal rocking Long Island politics: County Executive Ed Mangano, along with his wife and Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, had been arrested and faced federal indictments alleging corruption — kickbacks and bribery.
This year, Hempstead Town Councilman Ed Ambrosino was hauled in by federal investigators on charges of tax evasion. And voters have been making their voices heard at public meetings during discussion of ethics and transparency.
What does Curran bring to the table? First, a well-articulated passion for ethical reform and transparency that surely comes, at least in part, from her background as a newspaper reporter. A two-term legislator and former Board of Education trustee, she understands the serious issues facing the county, and we believe she will make good on her promise to shed light on the government’s business.
We agree wholeheartedly with Curran’s assessment of the county’s financial affairs: If Nassau is borrowing to pay its obligations, it is not fiscally sound, as is often claimed, or implied, by Republicans.
Curran’s opponent, Republican Jack Martins, while clearly well-versed in state and local politics and earnest in his call for a change to business as usual, reserves much of his outrage for the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, the state-appointed board that has overseen the county’s finances since 2000. Frankly, if the county had its fiscal house in order, there would be no need for NIFA.
Curran has been an outspoken proponent of “transit-oriented development,” and as a legislator, she was an advocate for the NICE bus service, pushing for the restoration of several lines that were closed down because of a lack of funding.
We also approve of Curran’s plans to push for downtown revitalization projects countywide, reforms at the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency and the appointment of an independent inspector general to vet all county contracts for fraud and waste — all of which will help grow the county’s tax base, align the county’s expenses with its revenues and renew residents’ trust in their government.
We agree with both candidates that the county’s property tax assessment system is broken — a fact clearly evidenced by the millions of dollars in refunds the county owes taxpayers. We disagree, however, with Martins’s contention that the answer is to push state lawmakers to make Nassau’s towns responsible for their own assessments.
Both candidates bring with them strong resumes and visions for accountable government, but we agree with Curran: “Nassau taxpayers deserve better” than the status quo. And we urge voters to cast their ballots for her on Election Day.