Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said his inauguration on Monday marked the return of normalcy, reiterating his desire to have a “common-sense approach” for mask and vaccination mandates pertaining to COVID-19.
“My vision for Nassau County is for us to become the most exciting and vibrant place to live,” Blakeman said during his inauguration ceremony Monday. “Not just in America, but in the world. We will dare to be bold. We will leave no community behind.”
Blakeman, Nassau’s 10th county executive, was sworn in at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City with hundreds of people, masked and unmasked, in attendance. After previously announcing he will not enforce Gov. Kathy Hochul’s indoor mask mandate, Blakeman spoke on the role, he believes, government should have when it comes to stopping the spread of the virus.
“Government has an important role in giving people options to create a healthier environment,” Blakeman said. “But government should not act in a heavy-handed way by curtailing important constitutional rights, such as the right of patients and their physicians to make healthcare decisions.”
The former Hempstead councilman and Nassau County’s liaison to the Trump administration said he is still a proponent of vaccinations, but said the “common-sense approaches” when it comes to minimizing health risks are critical to combat the virus effectively without negatively impacting Nassau’s economy and residential mental and social health. Blakeman recently spoke on the lack of scientific evidence that backs the need to have a mask mandate.
“Nassau County is not in a crisis,” Blakeman said. “Our hospital admissions are rising but at a manageable and predictable rate. Our death rates are low and stable compared to where we were nine months ago. Reason and common sense must supplant hysteria.”
Though inaugurations and swearing-in ceremonies for some elected officials throughout the state over the past week were moved outdoors, due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, Blakeman moved on with his inside the Garden City museum.
Elaine Phillips, a former state senator from Flower Hill was also sworn in as county comptroller and County Clerk Maureen O’Connell was also sworn in to continue serving in her role.
Blakeman once again spoke on changing the county’s property tax system that he, and other Republican officials, have previously criticized. Blakeman said he will do whatever is necessary to “fix” the system and prioritize taxpayers’ wallets.
“My predecessor took a flawed assessment system and made it worse by increasing the assessment values of 65 percent of the county taxpayers with an unfair, secretive and inequitable reassessment,” Blakeman said. “My administration will investigate, along with our new county comptroller, what went wrong and then we will fix it.”
Bringing new, younger residents into Nassau to start their families, while being able to retain the county’s older population, Blakeman said, can only happen if lowering taxes is something his administration has oversight on.
“Young people need to be able to afford to live in Nassau County and we must make our county affordable for our most valuable resource, our senior citizens,” he said.
Blakeman also said he is ready to work with newly-elected District Attorney Anne Donnelly to advocate for the repeal of the Bail Reform Act implemented in 2020 which eliminates pretrial detention and monetary bail conditions for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies.
“I will be happy to join with our new District Attorney, Annie Donnelly, and our law enforcement professionals to go up to Albany and demand the repeal of the Bail Reform Act,” Blakeman said. “Criminals have more rights than victims. Enough is enough”