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Democrat Laura Curran maps out transition to Nassau executive

Republican Jack Martins on Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 8, 2017, conceded the Nassau County executive race to Democrat Laura Curran, who will be the first woman to hold that office. Credit: Newsday / Stefanie Dazio

Democrat Laura Curran, the Nassau County executive-elect, began mapping out her transition Wednesday as Jack Martins, her Republican opponent, conceded defeat and urged his supporters to work with the incoming administration.

Curran, who will be sworn in Jan. 1 as Nassau’s first female county executive — and only the third Democrat ever to hold the office — beat Martins by nearly 8,000 votes in Tuesday’s election, according to unofficial results.

At a news conference in Mineola Wednesday, Curran said her victory opened a “new era” for Nassau.

“We are going to end the pervasive culture of corruption and ensure that government finally starts to serve the hardworking residents of Nassau County,” Curran said.

She pledged to make county departments run more efficiently and to “get rid of the bloated contracts and deals to well-connected individuals.”

Curran was joined by incoming county comptroller Jack Schnirman; Hempstead Supervisor-elect Laura Gillen, who will be the first Democrat to lead the town in a century; and Democrat Josh Lafazan, who at age 23 will be the county Legislature’s youngest member ever.

Nassau Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs promised a government free of corruption and nepotism.

“We are going to be mindful that government is for the people and not to enrich ourselves and our friends,” he said.

Martins, a former state senator from Old Westbury, declined to concede Tuesday night, saying he needed time to review the results.

But with more than 13,000 absentee ballots yet to be counted — slightly more coming from registered Democrats than Republicans — Martins bowed out Wednesday.

“I encourage everyone to work together to put partisanship aside to restore trust in government and get Nassau back on the right track,” he said in statement.

Republican County Executive Edward Mangano, who is fighting federal corruption charges and did not seek re-election, congratulated Curran in a phone call Tuesday night and “offered her assistance in an orderly transition.”

Curran, a second-term county legislator from Baldwin, faces immediate challenges.

County finances remain under the control of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, a state oversight board. NIFA is poised to reject the county’s 2018 budget Thursday night after the GOP legislative majority stripped out $60 million in fee hikes.

“While there are significant challenges ahead, we’re eager to open a productive dialogue to steer to the county toward a structurally sound and balanced budget,” NIFA Chairman Adam Barsky said.

Also, Republicans will hold an 11-8 majority in the Legislature, even after Lafazan defeated two-term Republican incumbent Donald MacKenzie in the 18th District.

Much of Curran’s ethics reform agenda, including the appointment of an inspector general to oversee county contracting, would require legislative approval.

Republicans say an inspector general is unnecessary and that the county’s commissioner of investigations can oversee contracts.

“There will be a loyal opposition and a check on the new county executive,” said Frank Moroney, a spokesman for the GOP majority.

But Curran said the goal is to find “common ground” with Republicans.

“We have a lot more in common than one would think,” she said. “It’s not about party. It’s about doing the right thing.”

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