Nassau County Democrats on Monday announced that Dean Bennett, a businessman and former county official, was their candidate for county clerk.
Bennett is the CEO of J.K. Bennett & Associates, a corporate consulting firm. He was the deputy director of Nassau’s Office of Minority Affairs under Democratic County Executive Tom Suozzi and an executive director for Empire State Development, the state’s economic development agency.
If elected, Bennett would aim to make the county government more transparent following what he said were the failings of current officials to comply with open records laws.
“As a concerned resident of this county, I am embarrassed to hear the unfortunate stories of some [of] our politicians who have made poor decisions and contributed to this lack of transparency,” Bennett said in a statement.
Bennett cited the county’s overall “D+” grade on the Press Club of Long Island’s Open Records Report, published in March.
Bennett joins a Democratic slate for countywide offices that includes county Legislator Laura Curran for county executive and Jack Schirman, the Long Beach city manager, for comptroller. Curran is running a primary against current Comptroller George Maragos and state Assemblyman Charles Lavine.
In addition to his government and business credentials, Bennett serves on the board of trustees of the Long Island chapter of Career Opportunities for Accounting Professionals.
Jay Jacobs, the Nassau Democratic chairman, called Bennett a “fully qualified candidate” who is “committed to openness in government.”
“We plan to do a much more thorough and responsive job when it comes to providing the public and media with records and documents they are legally entitled to possess,” Jacobs said in a statement.
Republicans have not said whom they will nominate for clerk, but Maureen O’Connell, the sitting Republican clerk, said she plans to run for re-election.
“I look forward to running on my record of modernizing the county clerk’s office and creating ease of access for my constituents, the residents of Nassau County, who I am honored to serve each and every day,” O’Connell said in a statement.
The Nassau Republican Committee is reportedly unlikely to nominate County Executive Edward Mangano for re-election following his indictment last fall on federal corruption charges. He has pleaded not guilty and refused to resign.
Republican Chairman Joseph Mondello did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
County Attorney Carnell Foskey said Nassau complies with the state Freedom of Information Law and called the Press Club report “riddled with inaccuracies.”