Nassau County Executive Election

Introduction

 

On Nov. 2, Democrat Laura Curran will be challenged by Republican Bruce Blakeman for the position of Nassau County Executive. Curran, the incumbent, has spearheaded many reforms throughout the county, while Blakeman finds faults in her policies and seeks change. This pivotal election will determine who manages the day-to-day affairs of the county, as well as who plans for the future. Campaigning for a four-year term, the executive, put simply, is the chief administrator of the county government. 

Other down-ballot elections occurring on this year’s election day are races for the district attorney, comptroller, spots in the county legislature, and seats in various town councils. Early voting began Oct. 23 and continues through Oct. 31. The results of these elections will shape and determine the future success and efficiency of the county policies, especially as the county continues to develop from past political scandals and corruption. 

The responsibilities of the county executive are wide-ranging and include maintaining and improving the state of parks, fields, and recreational facilities, ensuring the enforcement of law, protecting consumers, and preparing the county budget. In addition, the county executive formulates all policies and initiatives for implementation in Nassau. The county executive is aided in the decision-making process by selected commissioners and directors of departments and agencies, who must be approved by the county legislature. With the power to better the lives of over 1.3 million people, the Nassau County Executive holds an extremely important position with much influence over the daily operations of the area.

Issues plaguing the county that will likely be debated during and addressed after the election include coronavirus vaccination efforts, the ongoing opioid crisis, the increase of minority hate and other crimes, taxation (specifically property taxes, stemming from home re-assessment), and the full reopening of local businesses. Each candidate’s opinions on these conflicts will influence the outcome of the election.

 

Bruce Blakeman

 

Republican Bruce Blakeman has served as Hempstead Town Councilman since 2015. He also previously served on the Hempstead Town Board from 1993 to 1995, when he left to serve in the Nassau County Legislature, of which he was Presiding Officer from 1996 to 1999. In addition, he served as commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey from 2001 to 2009.

Blakeman, who is 65 and currently resides in Atlantic Beach, is a longtime politician and has made several failed attempts to attain higher office. In 1998, he unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Democratic state comptroller H. Carl McHall. In 2010, he ran in the Republican primary for New York Senate special election and also lost; he ran in the general election as a Tax Revolt party candidate instead but ultimately lost to Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand. In 2008, Blakeman—then a Manhattan resident—ran unsuccessfully in the Republican primary election for New York City Mayor, which Michael Bloomberg eventually won. In 2014, he won the Republican primary for the congressional race in New York’s fourth district but lost the general election to Democrat Kathleen Rice. 

The three core planks of Blakeman’s campaign for Nassau County Executive are crime, COVID-19, and property taxes. 

“People are hurting from the coronavirus pandemic, they’re hurting from high taxes, they’re hurting from crime,” said Blakeman to CBS New York on October 19, despite Nassau County being rated this year as the safest community in America by U.S. News.

In addition, he has criticized Curran’s property reassessment policy, which has led to school tax reductions for 35% of Nassau residents but increases for the remaining 65%. In his campaign, he has promised to redress this, though he has not yet released such a plan.

“I am focused on the tax burden on the average person in Nassau. There is only so much they can take,” he said to Newday on March 15.

Blakeman has also criticized Curran’s plan spurred by COVID-19 to send $375 payments to most Nassau households, comparing it to the equivalent of sending “peanuts” to residents.

 

Laura Curran

Since 2018, Laura Curran has held the office of County Executive for Nassau county, and she was the first woman ever to hold the office.  Before holding this office, she served as a school board member in Baldwin and worked as a reporter for the New York Daily News and the New York Post.  

During her time in office, she has enacted a wide range of reforms from advocating for economic development across the county to creating revitalization projects.  While in office, Nassau County has experienced some of the lowest crime rates and was noted as one of the safest communities by US News and World Report.  She is not one to renege on her campaign promises, as she was able to fix a property assessment system that had been amassing enormous debt for years.  During 2020-21, she enacted a County response plan to aid citizens with the ongoing effects of the pandemic.  Curran also focused on equal vaccine distribution and was able to distribute an incredible number of vaccines, with the aid of the Nassau County Department of Health, giving Nassau county one of the highest adult vaccination rates in the State.  Laura Curran is seeking re-election to continue the progress she has been working on for the past four years.  

“Before I took office, the County government was plagued by corruption and fiscal mismanagement.  I am proud of the historic reforms I put in place to rein in the culture of patronage and reckless spending,” said Executive Curran in Patch.  

Curran’s plans for her next term focus on infrastructure and bolstering Nassau’s middle class.  Her plans encompass four key ideas: “maintaining fiscal discipline, continuing to invest in public safety, supporting small businesses, and building tomorrow’s Nassau through sustainable infrastructure projects,” said Executive Curran in Patch.  

Curran hopes that the momentum of the past four years and her progress will help her keep the seat on election day.  

 

Public

Going into the election, Curran is considered the heavy favorite over Blakeman.  Newsday reports that she has “a lead somewhere between large and enormous.”  Despite the projected success of the incumbent, Blakeman is still confident that he can win over Nassau County.  Polling has shown an increase in general dislike of Democratic policies and ideas, which will help the Republican candidate.  

Despite this confidence, though, many voters lean towards Curran for a few reasons.  Curran has not had many problems as county executive over the past years, and she has made sure to be visible.  During the pandemic, many Nassau County citizens found her efforts to be commendable in combating the spread of the disease, as Nassau has one of the highest vaccination rates among all of NY. 

“During the pandemic, I felt she had the people’s best interest at heart.  I didn’t always agree with some of the decisions that were made, but knowing that nothing she did put anyone at risk is important.  I’d lean towards Curran on the ballot.  She was visible and constantly communicating with us over the last year, and she stepped up when we all needed her to,” said an anonymous Port Washington voter.  

Curran’s visibility has even swayed some Republicans to her side. 

“Curran has done well, even though there are certain things I’m not thrilled with, like her property reassessment policy and taxing, and the rollout for these have not been great.  Overall, though, she’s done a good job fiscally running the county,” said a self-identified Republican. 

What this vote will come down to is the public’s knowledge and view on both candidates.  Blakeman is the considerably lesser known of the two, which will likely hurt him in the end, especially in this small of an election.  Many voters don’t do too much research into these two local politicians, so they’ll vote for whoever is the most visible, which makes Curran the likely victor in this vote. 

“The general population doesn’t really know all that much.  We don’t understand local politics very much, myself included.  I think people will lean towards Curran, because she was a visible face in a time of need, and she is much more well known just because of her previous time as county executive,” said one voter. 

 

Wrap Up

The 2021 Nassau County Executive Election will take place on Nov. 2.  The two running candidates are Democrat Laura Curran, and Republican Bruce Blakeman.  They each have goals and promises to improve Nassau County. 

Bruce Blakeman’s main goal is to lower taxes for the average Nassau County citizen.  He believes that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on everyone, especially those who have low incomes and still have the burden of paying high taxes.  Blakeman’s plan to do this is returning the $120 million in surplus funds to taxpayers, as some people’s taxes have been raised by thousands of dollars.  If he wins the election, Nassau County residents can expect their taxes to be lowered. 

Laura Curran is running for re-election, and has made many promises to voters as to how she will continue to improve Nassau County if she wins the election.  Curran is dedicated to lowering taxes as well.  She has been working on decreasing property taxes since she went into office in 2018, calling for the reassessment of roughly 400,000 homes.  This reassessment has helped lower property taxes, and if Curran is re-elected, she expects that Nassau taxpayers will save $150 million over the next four years.

Blakeman and Curran have different opinions on vaccination.  Curran stated that she fully supports all residents receiving the vaccine, while Blakeman said that it is important to respect each individual’s choice regarding vaccination.  They are both dedicated to stopping the spread of COVID-19, and making Nassau County safe for its residents.