Former state Senator and Flower Hill Mayor, Elaine Phillips, was chosen as the Nassau County Republican Party’s candidate for county comptroller ahead of the elections this fall.
The 61-year-old served as senator for the state’s 7th district from 2017-2018 after spending the previous four years as the mayor of Flower Hill. Phillips also spent 25 years working on Wall Street as a financial adviser in the private sector.
“I believe Nassau County really needs me right now,” Phillips told Newsday in an interview. “They need a strong financial watchdog. They need someone with financial experience. They need someone who’s able to make these type of decisions and who’s had this type of oversight in the past.”
Efforts to reach Phillips or a representative from the county’s Republican party for comment were unavailing.
Phillips will challenge Nassau County Democratic Party candidate Ryan Cronin in the race for county comptroller this fall. Cronin, in a statement, welcomed Phillips to the race and said he looks forward to discussions on how to prioritize Nassau’s taxpayers.
“I welcome Elaine Phillips to the race and look forward to a spirited conversation about how best to move Nassau forward during this difficult time,” Cronin said. “As our families and business continue to feel the hardships from COVID-19, I plan to bring my message of reducing Nassau’s tax burden to voters throughout our county.”
Cronin, a Garden City resident, said his initial goal if elected as comptroller is to lower the fiscal burden of Nassau taxpayers due to the current hardships already caused by the lingering coronavirus pandemic.
Lowering the cost of living is essential to sustain Long Island as a great place to live and raise a family,” Cronin said. “Now, more than ever, we need elected officials committed to this objective. COVID-19 has upended the lives of our families, friends, neighbors, and businesses. As Comptroller, I will ensure Nassau County government works efficiently and eliminates corruption, fraud, and abuse.”
The two will look to replace current Comptroller, Jack Schnirman, who cited leaving politics to other people as a reason not to run for re-election.
Before being elected comptroller in 2017, Schnirman served as the Long Beach city manager for six years beginning in 2011. Although Schnirman touted efforts to increase government transparency, his tenure as comptroller included some blemishes.
A 2019 draft audit conducted by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli showed Schnirman was one of 10 former and current Long Beach employees who received a total of more than $500,000 in excessive separation payments.
Schnirman’s overpayments were a combination of accrued sick and vacation days that exceeded the amount allowed under city codes, resulting in his getting total payments of $108,000. Schnirman ultimately returned all of the $52,780 in overpayments he had received.
Schnirman highlighted the work that his office was able to do over the past four years, including the implementation of the Open Nassau Transparency Portal, which allows residents to view county expenditures, budgets, payroll and other governmental aspects. Schnirman’s office also recently released a three-year progress update, which showed that the comptroller’s office recovered more than $149 million for county taxpayers.
Schnirman also lauded his office’s work in reforming the county contract system and having the public more involved in the office’s daily operations.
“It is no secret that I love focusing on this work because even though it is nerdy, finding more efficient ways to deliver critical services, supporting our economic recovery, and closing our equity gaps makes a difference for our communities’ families,” Schnirman said.