Nassau County heads to the polls soon: who’s running for what and why it matters

With many important posts up for grabs, this off-year election hangs in the balance.

Republican+Jack+Martins+%28left%29+and+democrat+Laura+Curran+%28right%29+both+vie+for+the+seat+of+Country+Executive.+This+seat%27s+history+has+been+marred+by+corruption+scandals+as+recently+as+the+current+holder%2C+Ed+Mangano%2C+who+was+arrested+last+year+for+bribery.+Both+candidates+have+proposals+to+reform+the+system.
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Nassau County heads to the polls soon: who’s running for what and why it matters

Republican Jack Martins (left) and democrat Laura Curran (right) both vie for the seat of Country Executive. This seat's history has been marred by corruption scandals as recently as the current holder, Ed Mangano, who was arrested last year for bribery. Both candidates have proposals to reform the system.

Republican Jack Martins (left) and democrat Laura Curran (right) both vie for the seat of Country Executive. This seat's history has been marred by corruption scandals as recently as the current holder, Ed Mangano, who was arrested last year for bribery. Both candidates have proposals to reform the system.

newsday.com

Republican Jack Martins (left) and democrat Laura Curran (right) both vie for the seat of Country Executive. This seat's history has been marred by corruption scandals as recently as the current holder, Ed Mangano, who was arrested last year for bribery. Both candidates have proposals to reform the system.

newsday.com

newsday.com

Republican Jack Martins (left) and democrat Laura Curran (right) both vie for the seat of Country Executive. This seat's history has been marred by corruption scandals as recently as the current holder, Ed Mangano, who was arrested last year for bribery. Both candidates have proposals to reform the system.

Adam Jackman, Staff Writer

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On Nov. 7, Port Washington voters will cast their ballots for positions in the county and town government. The unfortunate reality is that across the United States, and in Nassau County, where the voter turnout was a mere 20.7 percent in the last off year election, many people do not vote. This is especially detrimental to small-scale democracy, as the policies of these representatives and issues affect everyone, not just those who vote on a daily basis.
Another unfortunate reality is that most voters do not understand the issues of the elections and how their vote could impact town and county legislation. The most polarizing of these elections is for Nassau County Executive, between Democrat Laura Curran and Republican Jack Martins. Incumbent Edward Mangano is not bidding for a re-election campaign due to the flurry of scandals that surround him and Town Supervisor of Oyster Bay, John Venditto. New York government is practically synonymous with corruption, as 33 members of state government have stepped down since 2002. Local politics are no different.
“In most local elections, voters care especially about three things: taxes, taxes and taxes. This year, it’s taxes, taxes and corruption,” said Lawrence Levy, Executive Dean at the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University.
Curran, former Trustee and President of the Baldwin School Board, has put this issue at the center of her campaign and vows to, “end the culture of corruption” in Nassau. Curran has five separate plans to increase government transparency, ethics and reform campaign finance and government patronage.
In terms of county finances, Curran believes in a more extensive assessment of county funds to save taxpayer money, and privatizing county services like the county bus system and sewer system.
“Business can often be more nimble than government can, and more responsive,” said Curran.
Republican candidate Jack Martins, former Mayor of Mineola and New York State Senator, agrees with Curran that government corruption needs to stop. He has released a revitalized code of ethics that he intends to enact and also has supported ending the pensions of corrupt officials in his senate position. However, Martins differs greatly from Curran concerning the county’s property tax assessment and privatization of services.
Martins believes that each town within Nassau should assess its own property taxes. This will spare the county the debt it paid on tax refunds and use the money to better utilize the towns’ assessment departments. Martins also believes that the privatization of county services is a bad bet.
“I am skeptical that money does not come with a significant price tag over time,” said Martins.
To compliment a hardworking County Executive, there also needs to be a County Comptroller and County Clerk who will work hard to tighten the budget and county finances. Republican candidate for County Comptroller, Steven Labriola, has a three-step plan to save taxpayer money and root out corruption. He plans to create a Whistleblower hotline to report instances of government fraud, double the amount of audits, and create an Anti-Fraud unit composed of forensic accountants and investigators.
Democratic candidate Jack Schnirman has focused his campaign on the modernization and efficiency of county finances. His plan is to make county expenditures transparent to the public through an online database and more effectively pay independent contractors so government projects will be completed faster with less cost to the taxpayer. The office of the County Comptroller is integral to the success of the county, because they control amount of financial reform that can take place by working with the County Executive and County Legislature.
Compared to the County Comptroller, the County Clerk controls finances on a much more logistical basis. This means that they control licenses, permits, and certifications for the citizens of the county, as well as supervise the County Courts for the state government.
“We constantly are working to strip away layers of bureaucracy, improve access to official records, and streamline operations while containing costs,” said Republican candidate and incumbent Maureen O’Connell.
The most important of the Clerk’s duties is to manage property taxes and legislation, which O’Connell has streamlined electronically over her past term.
“[This allows] residents and professionals to conduct business with the Clerk’s office remotely”, said O’Connell.
Democratic candidate Dean Bennett has attacked O’Connell, citing the lack of annual County Clerk reports from 2012 and 2015.
“This lack of transparency makes it hard to know how the County Clerk’s office is being run, why the fees collected by the County Clerk are so high, and how the budget of the County Clerk is managed,” said Bennett.
Another important position up for grabs is the district eleven legislator for Nassau County. This legislative position is the representation of Port Washington to the County as a whole. It is important that Port Washington thrives in Nassau and has a strong representative that backs up his or her constituents. Democratic candidate and incumbent of three terms Delia Deriggi-Whitton has represented Port Washington’s environmental concerns with legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emission and improve quality of drinking water. Republican candidate Zefy Christopoulos, on the other hand, wants to prioritize accountability to the citizens of the eleventh district concerning finance.
“Our north shore communities, from Roslyn to Port Washington to Glen Cove, need a strong voice to speak for over-burdened taxpayers, stressed homeowners, and those who feel ignored and not represented,” said Christopoulos.
In the Town of North Hempstead, the election for Town Supervisor is integral to the development of Port Washington. The Town Supervisor is responsible for the efficiency of the town government from finance to environmental regulation. Current supervisor and Democratic candidate Judi Bosworth believes in the benefit of government services like her restructuring of the town’s Building Department, which, according to Bosworth, “encourages developers to work in North Hempstead.” Bosworth has also worked extensively with the AARP to become the first town in Nassau that is an age-friendly place to live.
Republican candidate Stephen Nasta believes there is more to be done to benefit the Town of North Hempstead. Nasta is pushing a “less tax, more business” platform, working with current town legislator for Port Washington, Dina DeGeorgio, to increase transportation opportunities using the NICE Bus system and new parking apps. This also includes bipartisan effort in both the Town and County Legislatures to take down roadblocks for potential business and promise tax incentives to residents and businesses moving to the Town of North Hempstead.
“Voting is how we participate in a civic society – be it for president, be it for a municipal election. It’s the way we teach our children – in school elections – how to be citizens, and the importance of their voice,” said famous author Loretta Lynch.
The votes of the people matter now more than ever in Port Washington to decide the future policies of the county and the town. While 80 percent of the population ignores the elections, they cannot ignore its effects.
For more information on Nassau County’s elections students can visit vote411.org which provides extensive information on all races.

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