When Laura Curran becomes the county executive in January, it will be the first time that different parties control the executive and Legislature since 2000.
If Curran is going to tackle the myriad of challenges facing the county, she’ll need help from Republicans.
Leading members of the legislature’s Republican caucus believe the two parties can work together.
“I don’t see why not,” said Howard Kopel (R-Lawrence). “She’s a very nice person, a sincere person, I’ve always gotten along well with her and i think everyone does.”
That opinion was echoed by Deputy Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park).
“There will be differences of philosophy and opinion, but we can find the common ground,” he said.
When asked what policies or programs would receive immediate bipartisan support, the first thing both men mentioned were capital improvement projects and infrastructure.
“Most immediately what we need to work on is capital projects, we would like to see some go forward before the end of the year,” Nicolello said.
Kopel also mentioned fixing the tax issue in Nassau County, which means conducting property assessments more regularly. Curran has stated that her goal would be to do an assessment every year, a target that Kopel felt was a little optimistic.
“I’m not an expert on assement, but that is too burdensome a requirement,” he said of annual assessments. “We should certainly do it periodically on a lot shorter cycle, though, because right now we don’t do it at all.”
The last time the county valued property to assess taxes was in 2010, the first year of Edward Mangano’s administration.
The other major issue that both legislators discussed was the county’s need to get out from under the Nassau Interim Finance Authority.
Earlier this week, NIFA said it would impose its own spending cuts because the county could not get its budget in order.
“It’s self-perpetuating and they move the goalposts constantly,” Kopel said of the oversight board. “What I would like to see Laura do is push for financial relief from the state. Perhaps the state legislature and governor will pay more attention and gives us relief from NIFA.”
The county has been under NIFA oversight since 2000.
When it came to some of the policies that Curran promised on the campaign trail, the two legislators were a little more vague.
One such issue was the installation of an independent inspector general.
Curran has said an inspector general would do a better job of handling the county’s rampant corruption than the ethics board that is currently in place. The plan has support from Democrats but neither Nicolello nor Kopel said they were for or against it.
“We’ll have to sit down and talk about the differences in terms of Democrats and Republicans regarding an inspector general,” Kopel said.
Nicolello seemed a little more open to the idea.
“We will fresh look at inspector general, so that both sides can support it,” he said.
Another potential topic of contention is redistricting. Democrats claim that the current districts have helped the Republicans keep a hold of the county legislature and that the lines must be redrawn.
Kopel said the issue would likely not be tackled for couple years.
“That’s not in this session, we’ll look at it after the next election,” he said. “We’ll see how that shakes out, and obviously that’s a tug of war.”