A Westbury pastor and community leader backed George Maragos in the race for county executive on Friday, giving the Nassau County comptroller his first public endorsement.
Bishop Lionel Harvey of the First Baptist Cathedral of Westbury said he supports Maragos as “the only candidate who works for the people” and “not the political bosses” in the three-way Democratic primary for the county’s top office.
The race also includes Nassau County Legislator Laura Curran of Baldwin, the choice of the Nassau County Democratic Committee, and state Assemblyman Charles Lavine of Glen Cove.
“Mr. Maragos is a rare public servant, willing to take big steps to help the hard working middle class and open up business and job opportunities in government for all minorities,” Harvey said in a statement.
In addition to leading the First Baptist Cathedral, a church with about 1,400 members, Harvey helped found the Unified New Cassel Community Revitalization Corporation, a nonprofit corporation that spearheaded development projects in Westbury and New Cassel.
Harvey’s endorsement indicates Maragos, a former Republican who switched parties to run for county executive, is looking to rally support for his self-styled outsider campaign from minority and religious groups while elected officials align themselves with Curran or Lavine.
Maragos’ news release announcing the endorsement says Harvey is part of a “multi-racial-ethnic coalition” backing the comptroller.
Maragos also held an event last week with the Rev. Malcolm J. Byrd, pastor of the Jackson Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Hempstead.
The announcement came two days after Lavine rolled out a slate of new endorsements from 32 current and former federal, state and local lawmakers and civic leaders, including former U.S. Rep. Lester Wolff and state Assemblyman Anthony D’Urso.
Lavine previously had backing from former Reps. Steve Israel and Gary Ackerman and the Assembly’s top two Democrats, Carl Heastie and Joseph Morelle.
“As our grassroots campaign continues to grow, it is clear that our progressive message of reform and our willingness to challenge Nassau County’s corrupt leadership is resonating with voters and Democratic leaders throughout our state and our community,” Lavine said in a statement.
Eighteen of Lavine’s 32 new backers don’t live in Nassau County, but may have some political clout as chairs of various Assembly committees.
Asked for comment on Maragos’ and Lavine’s endorsements, Curran touted her backing from Nassau’s Democratic committee, calling herself the “real Democrat” who can bring “real change.”
“George Maragos has spent years bashing LGBT rights while serving as Ed Mangano’s yes-man and that’s the last thing we need if we’re actually going to fix the mess in Mineola,” Curran said in a statement, referring to the current Republican county executive.
Hank Sheinkopf, Maragos’ head political strategist, rejected Curran’s claim, saying Maragos was an early critic of Mangano’s reforms to the county’s property tax system.
Mangano has pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges stemming from an alleged bribery and kickback scheme, but has not said whether he will seek a third term.
The Nassau GOP is reportedly unlikely to nominate Mangano but has not yet chosen a candidate.