For Jack Schnirman, the third time was the charm. After his first two inaugurations were canceled by last week’s snowstorm, he was finally sworn in as Nassau County comptroller Tuesday afternoon at Nassau Community College.
“I started this campaign knowing it would be tough, and that the reward for winning would be even tougher,” Schnirman said about his job going forward. “But like so many in this room today, I did it because we need reform-minded leaders to push Nassau County forward.”
After being sworn in, Schnirman, a Democrat who was Long Beach city manager, said not all residents understood the nature of his job.
“When you run for comptroller, the most common thing you hear is … What the heck is a comptroller?” he said. “I serve as your fiscal umpire, an impartial voice calling balls and strikes and providing facts, transparency and clarity.”
Like an umpire, he promised to act independently and not favor one party over the other. He promised to innovate, saying that “generations of technology continue to pass Nassau County by,” a line met with an annoyed murmur by many of the county employees in the room.
Schnirman also mentioned four priorities he had campaigned on, and given that he was already a week into the job, was able to give the audience a brief update on some of them.
He said he wanted to get everyone on the same page regarding the county’s finances.
“We can’t fix our problems when there is disagreement over basic issues like whether we are running a surplus or a crippling deficit,” he said.
He promised audits into any area where the county might be wasting money and specifically mentioned auditing those who were nepotism hires. He pledged to reform the contracting system.
Schnirman also said he wanted to give residents and county workers a voice in identifying waste. To that end, he unveiled the “you report it, we reform it” tip line, where anyone could alert the comptroller’s office to wasteful spending by emailing [email protected]
“That is the true cost of the status quo; the cost of doing nothing,” he said. “We’ve paid too many of these costs for far too long, and the cost of doing nothing will continue to grow and outstrip every piecemeal budget cut we make until we do something about it.”
Among those in attendance were New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, County Executive Laura Curran and County District Attorney Madeline Singas, along with several members of the Legislature such as presiding officer Rich Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park). There were numerous town and village officials at the ceremony, with North Hempstead represented by Clerk Wayne Wink.
The ceremony began with the playing of patriotic songs on the bagpipes of the Nassau County Firefighters Pipes and Drums. The National Anthem was sung and prayers were read by representatives of the Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Hindu faiths.
Then there were brief speeches by Long Island Federation of Workers President John Durso and Kyle Strober, executive director of the Association for a Better Long Island. Both praised Schnirman for his work in the City of Long Beach.
They were followed by DiNapoli, who offered praise and advice for a man in a similar position.
“At a time where taxpayers are more stretched than ever … the office that has primary responsibility on how money is being spent and transparency to inform the public where the tax money is going, that’s the best job to have,” he said.
Then, a week into his job, Schnirman was officially sworn in as the county comptroller by State Supreme Court Justice Sharon Gianelli. This was followed by the swearing-in of Chief Deputy Comptroller Shari James and Deputy Comptrollers Kim G. Brandeau and Jeffrey R. Schoen.