Nassau County ExecutivePosted: 10/23/2017 15:30:00 -04:00 Updated:
Laura Curran - D, WF, WEP
Curran, 49, of Baldwin, is serving her second term in the Nassau County Legislature and is running for county executive on the Democratic, Working Families and Women’s Equality party lines. Curran was born in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, and moved to Baldwin in 1997. She received her bachelor’s degree in humanities from Sarah Lawrence College and did graduate work in American Studies at the CUNY Graduate School. She is a former reporter for the New York Daily News and New York Post. She later worked part time in the press office of former Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi, now a congressman. Curran was elected to the Baldwin school board in 2010 and served one term. Curran, who is vacating her legislative seat, is married, with three children.
Curran’s campaign has primarily focused on eliminating corruption and patronage by updating the county’s ethics standards and reforming its contracting policies. She would enact term limits for county elected officials, reconstitute the county’s board of ethics, strengthen financial disclosure laws and bar all appointees from holding leadership positions in any political party or any local political club. “Hiring should be based on your ability to do the job, and not who you know,” she said. Curran contends the county has failed to manage its finances responsibly and balance its budget. She would re-evaluate every county program for effectiveness and hire more in-house attorneys to reduce the need for outside counsel. “And for the contracts that we do need, there must be more oversight,” she said.
Cassandra J. Lems - G
Lems, 61, of Herricks, is running for Nassau County executive on the Green Party line. She is an intellectual property paralegal making her third run at public office — she ran for county legislature in 2015 and State Senate in 2014. Lems received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Goucher College in Baltimore. She serves as a volunteer with Nassau’s Community Emergency Response Team, which provides aid to first responders, and as a Green Party state committee member.
Lems says the county would benefit from a public campaign finance system that removes the motivation for candidates to accept large contributions from developers, contractors and others with business before the county. “Maybe that would stop some of the ‘pay to play’ we’ve seen,” she said. She also said that county officials should fill appointed posts based on merit, not a person’s political affiliation. Lems said she would push for environmental initiatives such as a countywide plastic bag ban and limits on use of gasoline-powered leaf blowers. She also backs a state bill to create a universal health care system in New York, noting that it would save Nassau County hundreds of millions of dollars in health care costs. “I want to put some of the Green Party ideas out there,” Lems said.
Jack Martins - C, R, TRP, Ref
Martins, 50, of Old Westbury, is running for county executive on the Republican, Conservative and Reform party lines. A first-generation American whose parents emigrated from Portugal in the 1960s, Martins is a lawyer and serves as vice president of his family’s commercial construction company, J & A Concrete of Bohemia. He graduated from St. John’s University School of Law and got his undergraduate degree from American University. Martins was a state senator from 2011 to 2016, where he chaired the Senate Labor Committee and the Workforce Development Task Force, and was a member of the state Regional Economic Development Council. From 2003 to 2010, he served as mayor of Mineola Village. Last year, he lost an election to represent the 3rd Congressional District. Martins is married and has four daughters.
Martins said his top priorities include “restoring public faith in government” through term limits for county elected officials, restructuring the county board of ethics to reduce political influences, and requiring that the county legislature approve the hiring of a county commissioner of investigations. That position, which has the power to review county contracts for improprieties, now answers only to the county executive and does not have to issue any public reports. “There is a very simple, straightforward solution,” Martins said. He also supports having towns handle their own assessment systems, as is the practice nearly everywhere else in the state, and converting vacant structures at Nassau University Medical Center into dedicated treatment centers for people addicted to heroin and opioids. Martins said Nassau County can better use its reach and resources to advance transit-oriented development projects that would attract more young professionals to the region. “The county has tremendous resources that local governments simply don’t have,” Martins said. “They have to be part of that process.”