Three Democrats are vying for their party’s nomination to replace embattled Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano nearly a year before the 2017 countywide elections.
County Legislator Laura Curran of Baldwin announced her candidacy Tuesday, a week to the day after the presidential election, saying she is a sort of outsider ready to reform a county government run into the ground by machine politicians.
“Now is not the time for phony-baloney solutions or tinkering around the edges of our very real problems,” Curran told about three dozen supporters in her Baldwin living room Tuesday morning. “It’s time for a fresh start.’’
State Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) also said this week that he would run, about a week after winning a seventh term in Albany.
Motivated by the indictment of Mangano, a second-term Republican, on federal corruption charges last month, Lavine said he would weed out corruption and strengthen government ethics in Nassau as he has sought to do in the state Legislature.
“It’s simply time for some honest leadership,” Lavine said. “I detest corruption and I detest the cynical exploitation of government.”
Curran and Lavine join county Comptroller George Maragos, a former Republican who changed parties in September, among the Democrats officially running for Mangano’s seat. Jack Schnirman, the Democratic Long Beach city manager, is also mulling a bid.
It is uncertain whom Republicans will nominate following Mangano’s indictment. Mangano has pleaded not guilty and refused to resign, but has not said whether he plans to run for re-election.
Curran, the first woman to ever run for county executive, is serving her second two-year term in the county Legislature after sitting on the Baldwin school board from 2011 to 2014. She will not run for re-election to the Legislature.
As county executive, Curran said, she would use technology to make government more efficient and transparent and get the county’s finances under control with “hard decisions” and “realistic budgeting.”
Curran touted her work as a member of the Legislature’s Democratic minority to pass bipartisan laws, and slammed Mangano’s plan to create and raise dozens of county fees and his practice of borrowing for operating expenses.
She recently angered her caucus when she voted with Republicans to approve borrowing for infrastructure projects in her district, breaking with Democrats’ refusal to do so until the county creates an independent inspector general’s office to oversee contracts.
“I understand that the way I operate perhaps ruffles some feathers, but I think that our residents have to come first,” Curran said.
Lavine was first elected to the Assembly in 2004 and is the chairman of its Committee on Ethics and Guidance and the co-chair of the New York State Legislative Ethics Commission.
In those roles, he has stiffened financial penalties for state lawmakers convicted of corruption and developed a policy addressing sexual harassment and racial discrimination in state government, he said.
With the possibility of more corruption charges against county officials, Lavine said, Nassau needs to restructure its government and hire an independent inspector general to oversee its procurement system.
Democrats have pressed for an inspector general since last year, when former state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos was convicted of corruption.
“We need to get rid of political hacks who are on the public dole and we need to re-examine the structure of Nassau government from beginning to end,” Lavine said.
Lavine does not plan to resign his Assembly seat and could run for re-election in 2018 if his county executive campaign is unsuccessful, he said.
Jay Jacobs, the Nassau County Democratic Committee chairman, said he has not decided whether he will endorse any of his party’s candidates or whom he would endorse. He said a candidate will likely have to spend $2 million to $2.5 million to run a competitive campaign.
“I think all four of them can do the job,” Jacobs said. “Now the question is who is best positioned to win.”
Asked why so many Democrats have entered the field so soon, Jacobs said, “With all the blood in the water, you don’t have to throw in much bait.”
Republicans reportedly being considered for county executive include Kate Murray, a former Hempstead town supervisor who ran a losing bid for district attorney last year; Bruce Blakeman, a Hempstead town councilman; and state Sen. Jack Martins, who ran unsuccessfully for the North Shore’s 3rd Congressional District seat.
Joseph Mondello, the Nassau County Republican Committee chairman, and Brian Nevin, a spokesman for Mangano, did not respond to requests for comment.