Laura Curran became Nassau County’s first woman and third Democratic executive and on a frigid New Years Day, marking what she said would be the beginning of “new era” for the county while outlining anti-corruption measures and the need for smart economic growth.
“To those who would cling to yesterday, who would rather see government work for the political class and not our residents, I have a message for you: those days are over,” Curran said before the dozens gathered. “Of course we’ll have our disagreements, but I truly believe there is no conflict too great for us to resolve, no problem to which we cannot find a solution.”
Curran, previously a two-term county legislator and journalist, had run on the idea of ending “a culture of corruption” in Nassau County.
She has voiced the need to appoint an independent inspector general, reform the property assessment process and tackle the contracting system.
Now former County Executive Edward Mangano, a Republican, decided not to run for re-election after he was indicted on bribery charges.
He has pleaded not guilty.
During her inauguration speech, Curran said the county must get its “financial house in order” and “break free of NIFA,” referring to the agency overseeing the financial affairs of Nassau County, fix the assessment system to make it “fair and transparent,” and face the challenge of restoring trust in government.
Additionally, Curran emphasized the importance of economic development for Nassau County’s downtowns.
She said the return of the Islanders “to where they belong” – to Belmont, within Nassau County – should mark the start of new smart growth in the county.
“Let’s keep that momentum going and transform the hub, finally, into an economically vibrant destination,” Curran said. “Lets create a more business-friendly atmosphere for everyone in Nassau – one that protects our communities, our environment, and our diverse population.”
“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 for that to continue,” Curran said. “Now is the time for action. We have serious challenges ahead of us.”
Among the first steps Curran promised to take at her inauguration were banning administration appointees from holding a party leadership position and barring executive staff from fundraising or donating to her future campaigns.
She also highlighted the county legislature’s initiative to create an independent inspector general’s office two weeks prior, as she called for during the campaign, to keep government accountable and oversee the county contracting process.
Joining Curran on Inauguration Day were Sen. Chuck Schumer, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who swore her into office, Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen, family members and dozens of other county residents and public officials.
Religious speakers included Pastor Stephen Lewis, who delivered the invocation, Monsignor Steven R. Camp and Imam Mufti Farhan, who offered an interfaith reflection of challenges going forward, and Rabbi Anchelle Perl.
Schumer described this as a “great day” for Curran, the county, women, as well as the middle class.
“Nassau County 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,” Schumer said. “She will fight hard for the middle class.”
Cuomo, who said the county and state face unique challenges like adjusting to the new federal tax bill, also expressed confidence in Curran to succeed as the new county executive.
“I’m excited that Laura is not a typical politician, because there are no typical solutions to what we’re going through,” Cuomo said. “Laura has the strength, the courage and the leadership that we need to make a difference and go forward”