Jack Martins began his campaign for Nassau County executive on April 26 at the place where his political career took birth—the Mineola Village Hall.
The past is prologue. Or so Martins, a Republican, hopes.
“Here in Mineola, he proved himself,” praised current mayor Scott Strauss of his predecessor, who went on to serve three terms in the State Senate and who received the official endorsement of the county’s GOP. “We had rough times over a decade ago.
When Jack took over (in 2003), he righted the ship, and now we’re sailing pretty well.”
Strauss said of Martins, “his integrity is unquestionable, and his common sense and vision are unmatchable.”
Martins, who left the Senate to run for the 3rd Congressional seat (losing to Tom Suozzi last November), was quick to draw parallels between the village he once guided and the county he hopes to lead.
“We were in financial distress, overspending, accumulating debt,” he noted. “Working together, we took control of our spending and restructured our debt.”
In addition, his administration put out a master plan and “re-visioned our future, and today we are on the right track. Mineola is a model community, thanks to the leadership of Mayor Strauss and the board.
“You can see the results now,” added Martins, “with new activity in our downtown, redevelopment and reinvestment, expansion of our tax base, and people moving in every day…We must do the same in Nassau County.”
Making a pointed reference to a criticism of governance in the county, Martins said it took a group effort to change things in Mineola, and touted the village’s transparency in governing—opening up meetings to the public by televising them, and putting documents on the website.
“The challenges in Nassau County are not insurmountable,” he said, and looked back on a Nassau that, for much of its history, was “the preeminent county in the entire United States and a model to the country of how a county should be…a magnet for investment, growth and prosperity.”
Added Martins, “Unfortunately, Nassau County’s second century has been marred by high taxes, corruption and fiscal instability.”
For Martins the county’s fall from grace was capped by the introduction of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA) by the state in 2000 to oversee the county’s finances.
“We want a county that is able to pay its bills. One that is not borrowing and leveraging our children’s future with debt,” he stated. “And once and for all remove itself from under the thumb of a financial control board that has been there for 17 years too long.”
“We will commit to putting the county’s finances in order…and put the county back on the right track,” he added.
Martins pledged to work cooperatively with all stakeholders and across the aisle to “restore this county to the status it had historically, and make sure the next 80 years here are gong to be the best ever.”
Further, he wants to support the police and emergency services to take on the scourges of opioid addiction and gangs, and envisions a county where young people will come back to after college because of favorable economic and housing prospects.
“Let’s put politics aside,” he said. “Let’s stop throwing stones and let’s get to this. I put my hat in the ring today for county executive because I have the experience, the will, and certainly I have the wherewithal to see this through.”
Martins joins a crowded field that includes County Legislator Laura Curran (official Democrat nominee), County Comptroller George Maragos (who switched his party affiliation to Democrat from Republican in September 2016) and State Assemblyman Charles Levine (Democrat). Republican County Executive Ed Mangano, who is facing federal indictment charges of fraud and bribery, has not revealed his election plans.