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Nassau Dem leaders back Laura Curran for county executive

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Nassau Legis. Laura Curran (D-Baldwin), a candidate for county executive, introduced an ethics reform measure on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017, including enacting term limits for county officials, strengthening financial disclosures and creating an independent inspector general for contracts. During a news conference outside her home, Curran said there is a "mess in Mineola" and that taxpayers "are tired of watching career politicians waste their money."  Credit: News 12 Long Island

Nassau Democratic leaders will back Legis. Laura Curran, a second-term county lawmaker from Baldwin, as their nominee for county executive in November, although a primary appears likely.

County Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs, who will make the endorsement at a news conference Monday, said Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman, who had been mulling a run for county executive, will be the party’s pick for county comptroller.

Two other county executive candidates — George Maragos, a Republican-turned-Democrat who is the current comptroller, and Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Gove) — plan to stay in the race, setting up a likely Democratic primary in September.

Jacobs credited Curran for her anti-corruption proposals and independence, which has led to occasional disputes with Democratic legislative colleagues over borrowing for county projects.

“Laura is not a professional politician,” said Jacobs, who will make his recommendation to the party’s nominating committee in late May. “She has a deep independent streak and is committed to working to making this county better.”

Curran, a former newspaper reporter and Baldwin school board trustee who has represented the 5th Legislative District since 2014, said taxpayers are “tired of business as usual. . . . They are sick of the finger-pointing and the blaming. They want someone to come in and fix the problems in a transparent way.”

Earlier this month, Curran announced an ethics plan that includes term limits for county officials, strengthened financial disclosure and hiring of an inspector general to investigate county contracting.

Curran would be Nassau’s first female major party county executive nominee.

Jacobs said he made his decision after conducting a poll of Democratic voters and examining the strength of the prospective candidates’ fundraising.

Curran raised $214,099, the most of any candidate during the period covering July 12 to Jan. 13, and she transferred another $37,539 from her legislative campaign account. Schnirman raised $185,135; Lavine took in $150,474 and transferred $57,000 from his Assembly account; and Maragos raised $64,055 and loaned his campaign an additional $450,000.

Jacobs called Schnirman, who was appointed Long Beach’s top administrator in December 2011, a “professional committed to change.”

Schnirman said “the people of Nassau are crying out for reform . . . together we can open up the books, ask the tough questions, and overcome the corruption that is costing us way too much.”

Maragos said he was not surprised by Jacobs’ choice of Curran.

“The political bosses and insiders have spoken and hand-picked candidates, who in addition to being inexperienced and unqualified to manage the county, are beholden to . . . [political action committees] and unions,” Maragos said. “I am independent and beholden only to the people of Nassau.”

Jacobs said Maragos is a viable general election candidate but would be hurt in a primary by comments made while running for U.S. Senate as a Republican in 2010 and 2012. Maragos once compared gay marriage to people “marry(ing) with their pets,” but later apologized and said he had “evolved” on the issue.

Lavine said county residents “deserve a government led by someone who has the experience, strength, independence and integrity to always do what is right, whether politically popular or not, in order to lead us out of the swamp of corruption and self-interest that plagues our county government.”

GOP party sources say they are unlikely to renominate Republican County Executive Edward Mangano, who pleaded not guilty in October to federal corruption charges, for a third term. Mangano has yet to announce his intentions.

Potential GOP county executive candidates include former state Sen. Jack Martins, County Clerk Maureen O’Connell, Hempstead Town Councilman Bruce Blakeman and Hempstead Town Receiver Don Clavin, GOP sources said.

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