East Hills businessman to challenge Mangano

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East Hills businessman to challenge Mangano

East Hills financier and restaurateur Adam Haber is the first Democrat to officially announce his candidacy for Nassau County executive.

Haber, 47, unveiled plans to run this week with a $2 million war chest of his own money and a platform to run the county as a business and find new ways to spark economic development. 

“I’m running on using my background to stimulate business creation that will then create jobs, which will create more revenue for the county,” Haber said. “I think you need to take a business approach to government because the way we’ve been doing things in Nassau County for the past 60 years have not been going very well.”

Haber said his business experience includes 22 years as an independent commodities trader on Wall Street, which he ended in 2009. He is also in the restaurant business, as owner of Aldea in Manhattan and as partner in Lula, a restaurant on 348 E. Jericho Turnpike in Mineola.

Haber’s introduction to local politics began four years ago when he was elected as a trustee on the Roslyn Board of Education where he continues to serve. 

In the years preceding the state-mandated tax cap, he said, the Roslyn school board had held year-to-year budget increases to 1.5 percent. It was his school board experience that prompted him to think about trying to play a bigger role in politics. 

“I saw that my skill set was valuable. I did some creative solutions to help the school board,” Haber said. 

He said he began attending meetings of the Nassau County Legislature and was dismayed at recent developments, including the imminent loss of the New York Islanders NHL team, the escalation of tax certiorari problems and the consolidation of police precincts. He said he didn’t think shuttering police precincts had save the county any money.

“I just haven’t witnessed any wins. And I’ve seen a lot of losses. I think I could do better,” Haber said. “I’m very good at creating jobs.”

Haber said as county executive, he would seek to create business “hubs” around Mineola and Hicksville. He said he thinks the county is on the right track in considering a research center for the Hub project centered on the Nassau Coliseum, and said he thought that area should have a convention center as well.

“I want to create hubs of start-up incubators in technology to make those areas hubs of job creation,” he said.

He said he also wants to make government processes more comprehensible to country residents.

“I think we should make government more transparent. We should go through the budget and find efficiencies as much as possible, which I’m very good at,” Haber said. “I want to continue to work with the school systems to make them thrive. But we need to do that in cooperation with our universities to make work force development.”

In preparing for his run for county executive, he earned a master’s degree in political science from Long Island University at Post. He also holds a bachelors degree in finance from the State University of New York in Albany. 

Haber said he doesn’t view his limited political experience as a handicap to his campaign. His school board experience, he pointed out, has included negotiating a collective bargaining agreement with the school district’s teachers. 

“Bloomberg did a pretty good job without any political experience. I don’t think it’s a hindrance at all. I’m smart enough to know what I don’t know and turn to people who do know,” Haber said.

He said he unofficially started his campaign in late December because he realize he lacked the name recognition he needs to run a strong race.

“I’m explaining who I am and what I want to do,” he said.

He plans to launch a “full-fledged campaign” with newspaper advertising direct mailers in the next 30 days, fueled by $2 million he said he loaned himself and money he said he’s raising “at a good clip” with the assistance of professional fundraisers.

“I’m all in. I’m running for county executive as a Democrat,” said Haber.

As a virtual unknown politically, Haber is a dark horse in the race. If he fails to win in the Democratic primary for county executive, he said he will then decide whether to continue his campaign as an independent candidate.

“I want to see if I can do good things in my community. This is a great place with good things and great assets,” he said.

Haber has lived in East Hills since 1993 with his wife, Renee. They have two children who attend schools in the Roslyn district.

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