Laura Curran promised to find a more honorable way to run Nassau County, and voters rewarded her with a stunning victory.
Now the county executive-elect, a Democrat and the first woman to win that office, must govern in a post-partisan, inclusive way to restore integrity, confidence and an identity to a directionless county.
Surely, Republicans who control the county legislature realize the defeat of Jack Martins, their standard-bearer, along with losing the Hempstead Town supervisor race to Democrat Laura Gillen, means the party cannot revert to business as usual.
After Tuesday, the Nassau Republican Party can no longer be regarded as one of the fiercest GOP machines in the nation. It corroded from within, crippled by greed, the paternalist need for control, and its refusal to heed demands for accountable and efficient government.
Finally, the county is rid of the dishonest and moribund administration of Republican Edward Mangano, who, after eight years, leaves office under federal indictment and with few accomplishments. The finances are still underwater, the county assessment system is still broken, and the county has a redone arena that can’t host a top professional sports team.
Curran and Gillen should work together on a new vision for the Hub, the 77 acres of county-owned land under the zoning control of the town. A great opportunity exists, especially if they start soon. Seize it. Both women will have to work with dysfunctional GOP legislative majorities. They should quickly set a tone of cooperation. Voters elected problem solvers.
Curran especially can give county government a fresh look by working with legislators on permanent reforms, such as term limits and establishing an inspector general to guard against political self-dealing. Curran is blessedly free of owing anything to the police and Civil Service unions, who recklessly threw away their members’ dues on political advertising to keep intact the male-only insiders club.
Martins came into the campaign with a fine record of public service, but was deaf to the demands for a fresh start. And he regrettably bought into the politics of hate with his fearmongering.
Curran has a lot to work with. Nassau County has extraordinary wealth and talented, hardworking residents. It enjoys proximity to the greatest city in the world, and it features fine schools, close-knit communities, a diversity of creeds, colors and visions, and a palpable vitality.
Now it needs a government worthy of its people.