Democrat Laura Curran was sworn in Monday during a frigid outdoor ceremony to become Nassau County executive, pledging to repair the county’s finances and restore trust in a government that has faced allegations of corruption, nepotism and mismanagement.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo delivered the oath to Curran, a former Baldwin legislator who is the first woman — and only the third Democrat — to lead the county.
“As county executive, one of my most pressing challenges is restoring trust and respect back in our government so that we as a county can chart a new path forward,” said Curran, who celebrated her 50th birthday on Sunday. “Over the decades, the erosion of trust has broken down the bonds between the government and the people that it serves. But the stakes are too high to allow that to continue. Now is the time for action.”
With temperatures dipping into the single digits, Curran kept her inaugural address, delivered on the steps of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola, to less than six minutes.
Curran promised to fix Nassau’s broken assessment system to make it “fair and transparent” and to implement a “dynamic” vision for the county’s economic development that will grow the tax base, create jobs and keep young people from leaving the region.
She cited the upcoming $1 billion development of Belmont Park that will include a new, 18,000-seat arena for the New York Islanders. Curran also plans to transform the 77-acre Hub around the renovated Nassau Coliseum into an “economically vibrant destination.”
Without offering specifics, Curran vowed to “get our financial house in order and break free” from the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, a state monitoring board that has been in control of the county’s finances since 2011.
“I firmly believe we can meet these challenges if we recognize they are not partisan political issues; they are Nassau issues,” Curran said. “And it will take all of us working together in a strong bipartisan manner to deliver real results for the people we represent.”
Curran succeeds Edward Mangano, a Bethpage Republican who did not seek a third term after he was indicted on federal corruption charges.
Mangano has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to stand trial in March.
While Mangano did not attend Monday’s ceremony, the previous two county executives — Democrat Thomas Suozzi, now a first-term congressman, and Republican Thomas Gulotta — were in attendance.
In an interview after the ceremony, Curran said she plans to immediately sign executive orders that prohibit members of her administration from holding leadership positions in political parties and bar her executive staff from donating to, or fundraising for, her campaign.
Later Monday, Curran visited a hospitalized Nassau police officer who was injured earlier on New Year’s Day after his unmarked patrol car was struck by a pickup truck that authorities say was driven by an intoxicated motorist.
Curran will travel to Albany Tuesday for Cuomo’s State of the State address, which takes place Wednesday.
Cuomo said Curran, a former newspaper reporter who entered politics seven years ago, is “not a typical politician” and that “there are no typical solutions for what we’re going through. Laura has the strength, the courage, the leadership that we need to make a difference and go forward.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called Curran’s inauguration a “great day for Nassau County . . . which is the home of the middle class. And the middle class has been neglected in both Washington and here in Nassau County. That will not happen again.”
The inauguration was the culmination of a 14-month journey for Curran, a two-term county legislator who entered politics in 2010 as a Baldwin school board member.
Curran was the first candidate to enter the supervisor race, launching her campaign in November 2016, only months after Mangano’s indictment.
She easily defeated County Comptroller George Maragos in a Democratic primary in September and beat former Republican State Sen. Jack Martins by 3 percentage points on Nov. 7.
Also taking office in Nassau were Democratic County Comptroller Jack Schnirman and Laura Gillen, the first Democrat elected as supervisor in the Town of Hempstead in more than a century.
County Clerk Maureen O’Connell, a Republican, also won a fourth term.
And while Democrats picked up one seat in the county Legislature, Republicans still will control the chamber with an 11-8 majority, raising the prospect of challenges to Curran’s legislative agenda.