Democratic Legis. Laura Curran declared her candidacy for Nassau County executive Tuesday, calling for a “fresh start” to restore faith in government after recent corruption arrests and persistent budget deficits.
Curran, 48, who is in her second term in the Nassau County Legislature’s Fifth District, said the county for too long has been run by “lifelong politicians” who used the office for personal gain.
That was a reference to County Executive Edward Mangano, who is facing federal corruption and bribery charges in connection with his dealings with a Bethpage restaurateur. Mangano has pleaded not guilty.
“It’s clear Nassau County needs a fresh start,” Curran told business, civic and labor leaders who packed her Baldwin living room and front lawn Tuesday morning.
“I am not a career politician but in my three years in the county legislature I have seen the dysfunction, the self-interest and the inability to figure out our simple county finances,” Curran said.
Portraying herself as a “maverick” willing to work with majority Republicans, Curran pledged to restore transparency in government and to better manage Nassau’s finances, which have been under the control of a state monitoring board since 2011.
“I have heard loud and clear from my constituents the disgust and the frustration,” Curran said. “I feel it too. It shouldn’t be a job program for friends and family. Tax dollars should go for goods and services that people need and deserve, not for a never-ending PR campaign to keep those same politicians in office.”
Curran has sponsored bills to help active-duty military members and armed forces veterans get government contracts and to allow superstorm Sandy victims to delay paying county fees for home repairs or new construction until 2017.
But Curran also angered Democratic leaders last month when she broke with her party to approve $50 million in borrowing for delayed road and environmental projects.
“I disagreed with what she did and the execution could have been better,” said Nassau Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs, referring to the 11 p.m. vote in a nearly empty legislative chamber. “But she did not burn any bridges with me.”
While frustration lingers in the Democratic caucus over Curran’s vote, Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said his members could support her if “she makes a strong case for county executive.”
Curran joined a crowded field of Democrats vying for Nassau’s top elected office including Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) and Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos, who changed his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat. Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman created an exploratory committee, but has yet to declare his candidacy.
Mangano has vowed not to resign and but says he will not decide whether to run for re-election until next year. Possible GOP county executive candidates include former Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray, state Sen. Jack Martins and Hempstead Town Councilman Bruce Blakeman.
Curran is a former newspaper reporter and past president of the Baldwin School Board. She said she will not run for re-election to the legislature when her term is up next year.