Favors term limits, opposes sanctuary city status
Assuming he wins the office of Nassau County executive this November (and is re-elected), Republican candidate Jack Martins affirmed that he will limit his term to two four-year spans.
On Aug. 16, the former mayor of Mineola and three-term state senator was joined at the Mineola Village Hall by New York State Reform Party Chairman and Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa to announce his support for term limits for the executive and county legislators.
Martins is also opposing efforts to make Nassau County part of the sanctuary city movement—communities where law enforcement will not cooperate with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) department after arresting suspected undocumented residents.
“I look forward to enacting term limits as a part of the comprehensive ethics and government reform plan that will be the first legislation acted upon in January,” said Martins. “I am committed to two terms for county executive and no more than two terms, and five terms of two years each for…legislators. It begs the question, why hasn’t it been done before? Suffolk County has had the benefits of term limits for almost two decades. New York City has term limits. It is important to understand that when a person is elected to public office, that they’re there to serve the people, not to ensure that they are re-elected. The choices and decisions that they make are predicated on doing the right things and advancing public policy.”
He added, “As a reform measure it’s important. It sends a strong message that Nassau County is dedicated to ethics reform. What I’ve talked about during this campaign is reconstituting the ethics board [and] that it is independent and has the resources it needs to make the decisions and avoid conflicts of interest that we see time and again in government.”
Martins also said he wants to see the legislature enact a mechanism to remove a sitting county executive or other elected official in case they violate the public’s trust. He was referring to the federal indictment of current Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano last October. Mangano was reportedly getting ready to run for a third term, but the county GOP declined to endorse him and instead opted for Martins.
Sliwa noted that “what clearly resonated with [his party] is when Jack broke ranks with a lot of Republicans and immediately said to Mangano, ‘It’s time to go.” And that took chutzpah. It took principle. Because there were many who decided that party was more important than principle.”
In response to a question Sliwa said that Martins’ strong stand on term limits was decisive, and dovetailed with the party’s platform. Told that Democratic county executive candidates Laura Curran and George Maragos also came out for term limits, Sliwa was asked if anything else tipped the balance to Martins.
“I think because he is a Republican, and came out and said first and foremost that Mangano must go,” Sliwa responded. “It’s very easy for Democrats to say that. But internally, it has to cause Jack a lot of grief. That was a principled position and it made him stand out above the Democrats. Would they have done the same thing if [Tom] Suozzi, when he was county executive, had been indicted? I don’t know.”
In a press release, Martins “reiterated his promise to block Sanctuary legislation in Nassau County, which is particularly significant given the federal response to the MS-13 street gang and the recent arrest of 32 convicted sex offenders who were subject to deportation.”
Martin stated, “When it comes to sanctuary cities let me be clear—and I have been clear on this issue over the years. I have never advocated for mass deportations nor do I here today. When we do have people who have been convicted and there’s an opportunity…to have them deported and removed from the community, I choose the community as a public safety issue. One thing we’ve learned is, when it comes to public safety, it’s all hands on deck and full coordination. There’s nothing more important in government than public safety.”
He added, “We’re not going to play politics with the issue. We’re not going to advance a political agenda. We are not here to have discussion about political correctness. We’re here to make sure that the public is protected and our priorities are always on our families, first and foremost.”
Martins is the son of Portuguese emigrants who came to the United States in the 1960s.
Sliwa thought that ever since the visits of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and President Trump to Long Island there’s been much better cooperation between the feds and local authorities.
“You’ve seen that in the number of arrests that have been made and the number of incursions into MS-13 cliques–since they don’t have a central leadership you have to get them clique by clique,” he said. “And remember, they rarely go outside of the immigrant community. They feed off of their own, prey on their own.”
“That is why it’s so important to have someone like Jack Martins leading the message in Nassau County,” Sliwa said, adding that “we have endorsed people of all different political backgrounds and different parties.”
Martins believed that “There was a lack of cooperation and communication between the federal government and the state and local level and law enforcement in coordinating their efforts in combating the gangs—and due to that breakdown, we had some consequences. It is essential that we continue to martial resources….but it’s going to take a collective effort to do that.”
Anton Media Group asked Sliwa how exactly the Guardian Angels counter gangs. Sliwa responded, “We’re citizen safety patrol volunteers. We don’t carry weapons and have no special powers. But we do make citizens arrest. We do physically intervene and we have members, particularly in Brentwood and Central Islip, who used to be in MS-13, so we’re able to gather a lot of intelligence and provide it to local law enforcement and the feds. And we also provide protection to the immigrant community who come under threat, particularly the shop owners and workers.”
He added, “Because the idea behind MS-13—unlike the Bloods or Crips or the Latin Kings, who make most of their money from drug dealing and weapons, which means it’s easy to bust them—MS-13 makes most of their money by shaking down and extorting under the threat, ‘We’ll get you here, or we’ll find your family in the village back in El Salvador or Guatemala or Honduras.’ So our ability to work within and get info and help law enforcement, but also to physically confront them when they’re harassing people, works well for us.”
Martins noted,“Everybody knows the red beret and respects the red beret. It’s quite a symbol of local policing and it’s certainly something that we’re well aware of.”
Both were asked about the events in Charlottesville the previous weekend, and President Trump’s initial reaction.
Martins responded, “Leadership requires moral clarity. As a Republican, it is our responsibility to call out the president. The president in this case missed the opportunity to be necessarily clear. He should have been clear there is no place for bigotry, racism and anti-Semitism anywhere, period. And frankly, we’re better than this. This is not who we are as a country. Wherever it happens to rear its ugly head, it’s certainly our responsibility as leaders to be very clear in condemning it and stepping up and protecting those who are affected. And holding those who perpetrate it responsible.”
He added, “Some would say that this is a freedom of expression issue, that everyone has a right to freedom of expression. And under the First Amendment there is freedom of expression. But I do not believe there is freedom of expression for hatred. And it’s very clear that we draw the line that we don’t cross. That is when people engage in hatred. When they engage in the kind of things we saw happening in Charlottesville we condemn it in no uncertain terms. This isn’t the time for politics or half measures or equivocation. This is a time for the country to come together—Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives—with one voice and condemn it.”
Referring to the president’s Aug. 15 press conference, in which he reverted to the “both sides engaged in violence” theme that had drawn criticism, Sliwa said, “The president yesterday really hurt his cause i addressing the issue and claiming what he said on Saturday was truer than what he said on Monday. Because if you looked at the torchlight parade on Friday, when there was no violence, but there were invectives hurled at Jews and blacks. How could the president say they were good people in the crowd is beyond me. Good people would’ve said, ‘Even if I’m for preserving Confederate history, I see a Nazi swastika. I see the KKK. I’m out of here. I don’t even want to be associated with these people. So the president was wrong on that front….His inability to say ‘alt-right’ is very troubling.”
Another aspect of the Charlottesville incidents troubled Sliwa.
“The fact that David Duke keeps tweeting him, ‘Thank you, Mr. President, for that support, for being so balanced.’ He has refused to take on the iconic symbol of white racism. Everybody knows David Duke and yet during his run [for president Trump] claimed not to know David Duke and not to know about white supremacy. I hope he addresses David Duke today and says, ‘I don’t need your support. I don’t want your support. Stick it where the sun don’t shine’ in true Trumpian fashion, but we’ve yet to see that.”
Martin said, “When I was in the Senate, I was protested by both the far left and far right, which I think is actually pretty good, because by working in the middle—center right and center left—that’s where we get things done. There’s more that unites us that separates us, and that we are able to work together across the political divide means standing up to the David Dukes and white supremacist and also to groups on the far left.”
Asked about Congresswoman Kathleen Rice calling the president a racist, Martin said, “I would not characterize [Trump] as a racist, but I will say it is a failure of leadership on his part to be clear in condemning this, and I call on him to do so.”
“I disagree with the congresswoman,” said Sliwa. “If you know the life of Donald Trump, when he was a casino owner in Atlantic City they were called the ‘three amigos’—Don King Al Sharpton and Donald Trump. They were inseparable. So how can you be a racist when you’re palling around with Don King and Al Sharpton? He certainly has had a good relationship with the blacks over the years. He has Jews in his own family—his daughter converted. So I don’t know what is the warp in his character refusing to attack David Duke or the alt-right, but it doesn’t make him a racist and certainly doesn’t make him an anti-Semite.”