Nassau County Executive-elect Bruce Blakeman has been shaping his administration as he prepares to take over on Jan. 1.
Blakeman, 65, a politician whose tenure in various legislative offices dates back to the 1990s, will lead the county government after he beat incumbent Democrat Laura Curran on Election Day. He rode a red wave, as Democratic voters—who outnumber Republicans across the county—stayed home and the GOP got the votes out. There were numerous political upsets, and Republicans swept all three other top county posts—comptroller, district attorney and clerk.
The final official tally from the Nassau County Board of Elections showed Blakeman winning by 2,146 votes out 283,279 cast (50.35 percent to 49.59 percent).
Nassau County Legislature Presiding Officer Rich Nicolello (R–New Hyde Park), whose party holds a 12-7 edge in the legislative body after the election, introduced Blakeman at a Nov. 17 press conference by noting that they had served in the first county legislature in the 1990s and further, “We share the same priorities in terms of giving tax relief to our beleaguered residents and keeping our communities safe and fixing the issues that remain with our county.
“We’re very excited in the majority and look forward to working with Bruce on these issues going forward, and you know that we’re going to make a huge difference in the county.”
“I want to thank the voters in Nassau County for putting their faith and confidence in me as we are in a very challenging time in our history,” Blakeman stated. “I feel we have the right team to work on these issues.”
Blakeman said he had reached out to Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D–Freeport) and pledged “to work together both with the minority and majority in the legislature to try to accomplish great things for Nassau County. We should all be united and I believe we are united on the issues to protect taxpayers and grow their wallets, keep our neighborhoods safe, create jobs, protect parents’ rights and so much more.”
Among those standing with Blakeman were two new GOP members of the legislature, John J. Giuffre (Stewart Manor) of the 8th District and Mazi Melesa Pilip (Great Neck) of the 10th District, who had upended incumbent Ellen Birnbaum.
“Yesterday, I had a great conversation with Laura Curran,” Blakeman reveled. “She was very kind and gracious to me. She called to congratulate me and pledge that she will work together with me to move the county forward and to have a very smooth transition.”
Blakeman introduced Arthur Walsh, his choice for chief deputy county executive. Per Curran’s recommendation, Walsh was set to meet current Deputy County Executive Helena Williams. They would be joined by Chris McGrath, the chair of Blakeman’s transition committee.
According to Blakeman, “Many prominent people from many different backgrounds have expressed an interest in being on the transition team. We look forward to a smooth transition and making sure that we’re up and running January 1st.”
Blakeman announced a new website, www.servenassau.com.
“If anybody’s interested in serving Nassau County on my transition team or are looking to serve in my administration, I urge them to go to that website,” he said.
Asked about the uptick in COVID cases and what he would do, Blakeman replied, “We’re monitoring the situation very closely. I have the utmost respect for the county executive and she will be county executive until January 1st, so I will defer all questions to her. Come January 1st, we’ll be fully informed on what’s going on and I will make decisions at that point.”
He noted that he has consistently said that school districts should determine the policies in their own schools.
Regarding his hiring practices, Blakeman said, “I do not expect that it will be one-party staffing. I believe my transition team will have a significant number of Democrats and I’ve already spoken to some Democrats who’ve expressed an interest in serving.”
He added, “We’re just going to get the most qualified people who want to work hard for the taxpayers, but they also have to share our philosophy. So to that extent, anybody who comes to work for my administration has to be on the same page with my agenda. But I expect that we will have Democrats in my administration and on the transition team. It will be bipartisan.”
On Nov. 23, Blakeman announced that he will detain Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder, a Republican tabbed by Curran to lead the department.
“With respect to anybody who is currently holding a position in the government, I am completely open-minded,” Blakeman said. “If somebody is doing a good job we will consider retaining them. Again, they would have to be in line fist philosophically with my agenda. But we’re going to look at everybody on a case-by-case basis. If it ain’t broke, I’m not going to try to fix it.”
Laura Curran Statement On Election
On Nov. 16, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran released the following statement:
“This is not the result we hoped for, but there is so much to be proud of. Four years ago, we promised to clean up the corruption and fiscal mismanagement that plagued county government, balance budgets and turn deficits into surpluses—and we did just that. My administration took on the tough fight of reassessment: transforming a broken system into one that is fair and accurate. Through strategic investments in community-based policing, my administration secured Nassau’s ranking as the ‘safest community in America.’ And together, we overcame a global health and economic crisis—rebounding as the region hardest hit by the pandemic to the highest vaccinated county in New York State.
“Our county must build on this progress, while preparing for the challenges ahead. I congratulate County Executive-elect Bruce Blakeman on his victory, and wish him the best as he undertakes this important work.
“I thank my family, my government and campaign staff, as well as the members of the business community, law enforcement, labor unions and others who extended their endorsements and support. I will forever be grateful for your partnership. I believe our long-term, shared vision for Nassau County remains in reach and I will never stop fighting for our residents.
“I love our county and our residents, and pledge a positive transition. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for allowing me the opportunity and the privilege to serve you these last four years.”