Nassau will have in 2018 a new county executive, a different county comptroller, and three new faces in its 19-seat legislature, making 2017 one of the more compelling county election campaign cycles in years.
Two storylines which make 2017 so unusual are the sight of Republicans distancing themselves from County Executive Edward Mangano as he faces federal corruption charges and County Comptroller George Maragos, who was twice elected as a Republican, running to succeed Mangano as a Democrat.
Before taking office in 2018, those vying this year for Nassau County government’s top policy-making positions must clear a few electoral hurdles. The marquee 2017 race is for county executive and the Republican nominee for that post is former state Senator Jack Martins. Martins’ GOP running mates include former state Assemblyman Steve Labriola, who wants to be the next county comptroller, and incumbent county clerk Maureen O’Connell. She is seeking re-election to another four-year term.
Martins will face on Tuesday, Nov. 7, the winner of the Tuesday, Sept. 12, Democratic county executive primary between county Legislator Laura Curran (D-Baldwin) and county Comptroller Maragos, who became a Democrat in 2016.
It is unclear as of this writing who will be opposing Labriola and O’Connell in November because Comptroller Maragos recruited Ama Yawson to run for county comptroller in September’s Democratic primary. The Maragos slate also includes county clerk candidate Carl DeHaney. Legislator Curran is, however, the Nassau Democrats’ official nominee for county executive and the designation for county comptroller at the Democrats’ nominating convention went to Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman. Dean Bennett is running on the Curran ticket as the county clerk candidate.
The three county legislative seats which will have new faces next year are the ones in the 5th, the 13th and the 15th legislative districts (LDs). The 5th LD is represented today by Legislator Curran, who is vacating that position at year-end, no matter how her county executive bid ends. Nassau’s Democrats tapped Freeport Village Trustee Debra Mule as Curran’s successor but Mule will face a Tuesday, Sept. 12, primary, too, with at least three challengers having indicated they want the Democratic nomination in the 5th LD. Kathleen Spatz of South Hempstead is the GOP’s nominee for county legislature in the 5th LD.
In the 13th LD, a vacancy is occurring because of the year-end retirement of Legislator Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow), the legislature’s presiding officer. State Assemblyman Thomas McKevitt (R-East Meadow) is running to keep this seat in the Republican column and he’ll face Democratic nominee Eileen Napolitano, who ran unsuccessfully against Legislator Gonsalves in 2015. Besides East Meadow, the 13th LD covers communities such as North Bellmore, North Wantagh and Seaford.
The opening in the 15th LD emerged a few weeks ago when the incumbent county legislator, Dennis Dunne, resigned after being appointed a Hempstead Town Councilman. John Ferritti is the Republican nominee to succeed Dunne in the 15th LD. Michael Sheridan is the Democrats’ choice in the 15th LD, which includes Levittown, Salisbury and portions of Bethpage, East Meadow and Wantagh.
Given Dunne’s departure, the Republicans now hold an 11-7 majority in the county legislature while also having incumbents as county executive, county comptroller, and county clerk who were elected in 2013 with GOP support. County clerk O’Connell is the only one of the three countywide office holders, however, who has the Republican party’s backing in 2017.
Mike Barry can be reached at email@example.com. The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the publisher or Anton Media Group.