|County Executive of Nassau County|
|Assumed office |
January 1, 2018
|Preceded by||Ed Mangano|
|Member of the Nassau County Legislature from the 5th district|
January 1, 2014 – December 31, 2017
|Preceded by||Joe Scannell|
|Succeeded by||Debra S. Mule|
|Born||December 31, 1967|
St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
Laura Curran (born December 31, 1967) is an American politician who has served as the County Executive of Nassau County since 2018. She is the 9th County Executive in Nassau County history and the first woman to hold the office. Curran worked as a reporter before serving in the Nassau County Legislature.
She previously served on the Nassau County Legislature from 2014 to 2017 and as a local school board member in her hometown of Baldwin. Prior to holding elective office, Curran worked as a reporter for the New York Daily News and New York Post.
In the general election, Curran won a contentious campaign against former New York State Senator and Mineola Village Mayor Jack Martins. The then sitting Nassau County Executive, Ed Mangano, had decided not to run for re-election following an indictment on federal corruption charges.
The campaign between Curran and Martins touched on gang violence (MS-13) and runaway property taxes, but ultimately centered on ethics. When polls closed on election night Curran, an underdog in the historically Republican Nassau County, had won 51 percent to 48 percent. She is the third Democrat to hold the position in 80 years.
Nassau County Executive
Curran was sworn into office, January 1, 2018, by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on the steps of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building (formerly the Old Nassau County Courthouse) during a frigid outdoor ceremony.
Administration and Policies
Among her first hires were former Long Island Rail Road President Helena Williams and former New York City Budget Director under Mayor Michael Bloomberg Mark Page. Williams was the railroad's longest-serving president in several decades, president of the nation's busiest commuter railroad, and the first woman to run any Metropolitan Transportation Authority agency. Page, as director of the city's Office of Management and Budget under NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, oversaw the city's finances through the September 11 terror attacks, the Great Recession, and Super Storm Sandy.
Other early hires include an assistant state attorney general and former special counsel to the New York State Attorney General Public Integrity Bureau to enforce new ethics and procurement reform policies. Curran also appointed the first permanent commissioner of the Nassau County Police Department in more than four years. Curran's appointment, Patrick Ryder, previously served as commanding officer of the Asset Forfeiture and Intelligence Unit. Within the department, Ryder was largely credited with wide spread adoption new advances in technology to assist in crime reduction. Examples include Nassau's successful use of gunfire locator technology to reduce gun crime.
Assessment and Tax Relief
Under Curran's predecessor, Nassau County froze the tax rolls in 2011. The rolls would remain frozen for nearly seven years. According to an exposè, the policy resulted in a $1.7 billion shift in the property tax burden that largely benefited wealthy residents over low-income, middle-class and elderly residents. In effect, the policy created a "separate and unequal" tax assessment and challenge system that benefited those who frequently challenged their annual property tax assessment over others who did not or were unable to do so.
To address the issue Curran issued an executive order unfreezing the tax rolls in March 2018 and signed legislation that would allow for the reassessment of all county properties by 2019. Additionally, Curran introduced a proposal providing tax relief to the homeowners who shouldered the majority of the tax burden shift under the 2011 freeze. The proposal called for a five-year, partial tax exemption that would be granted to owner of homes built before the freeze began in 2010, are assessed at a high level, and are worth $1 million or less. The resulting exemption would primarily benefit middle-income property owners who have not challenged their assessments successfully since the 2011 freeze and resultant tax shift.
Public Safety (Opioids)
Upon taking office Curran confronted the growing opioid epidemic which saw the drug claiming a record number of lives in the region. Curran, and Commissioner Ryder, quickly established a tech and intel-driven response to the opioid and heroin crises by working in conjunction with the U.S. DEA HIDTA program. Through the HIDTA program Curran and Ryder were able to fund and roll out the Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program (OD Map). Through ODMap police track overdoses reported to hospitals, fire and police officials and are able to predict waves of overdoses and try to prevent them as well as the crimes that often follow drug use. Curran, Ryder, and the program gained national attention when early results showed a precipitous drop in both fatal and non-fatal overdoses; 32 and 34 percent respectively.
Curran signed an executive order barring appointees from holding leadership positions in political parties or donating to her campaign. At the time the measure was considered to be the first in New York State history. Shortly after, Curran issued a "zero-tolerance" executive order banning gift-giving among vendors and employees involved with procurement or contracting procedures. Previously county employees could not accept gifts worth $75 or more.
No Names On Signs
During the campaign Curran pledged that if elected she would remove the county executive's name from the county's parks and welcome signs. The pledge was a sharp break with tradition and an unusual measure by political standards. Of the pledge, The New York Times wrote, "Across the county's many parks, large signs welcome visitors with the county executive's name in giant letters, with the park's name in a smaller typeface. Ms. Curran has asked the county's public works department to simply remove the county executive's name altogether." Curran criticized the signs as self-promotional and a waster of taxpayer dollars.
- Lisa W. Foderaro (December 8, 2017). "From Bylines to Bylaws, Laura Curran Makes Leap to Politics". Nytimes.com. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
- Daine Taylor (December 28, 2017). "Laura Curran is Baldwin's Person of the Year". www.liherald.com. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
- "In New York Suburbs, Democrats Flip Two County Executive Seats". The New York Times. November 8, 2017. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
- Lovett, Kenneth. "Nassau County executive candidate hires de Blasio's campaign consultants and firm behind famous Dante ad - NY Daily News". nydailynews.com. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
- "Voting breakdown: How Curran won in Nassau". Newsday. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
- Foderaro, Lisa W. (September 21, 2017). "In New York Suburbs, Plenty of Democrats — Just Not at the Top". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
- Foderaro, Lisa W. (November 8, 2017). "In New York Suburbs, Democrats Flip Two County Executive Seats". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
- "Curran: 'Restoring trust' a top priority as executive". Newsday. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
- "Ex-LIRR president tapped by Curran for deputy job". Newsday. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
- "NYC's Former Budget Director Heads East to Fix Nassau's Finances". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
- "MTA fires LIRR President Helena Williams". New York Post. April 30, 2014. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
- "NYC's Former Budget Director Heads East to Fix Nassau's Finances". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
- "Curran names six top deputies". Newsday. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
- "Curran taps Ryder as Nassau Police chief". Newsday. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
- Buckley, Cara (November 20, 2009). "ShotSpotter Hits the Suburbs as the Police Fight Gun Violence". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
- Conry, Tara (February 2, 2017). "Mangano's overhaul created $1.7B property tax shift in Nassau". Newsday. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
- "Nassau lawmakers approve assessment contracts". Newsday. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
- "LONG ISLAND ADDICTED - MetroFocus". MetroFocus. March 15, 2018. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
- "Ryder: We'll use mapping to fight opioid scourge". Newsday. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
- "Nassau police see decline in opioid overdoses". Retrieved May 8, 2018.
- "Curran bars appointees from high party jobs". Newsday. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
- "Curran Signs Executive Order Cracking Down On Corruption In Nassau County". January 17, 2018. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
- "Curran: No gifts for staff involved in contracting". Newsday. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
- "From Bylines to Bylaws, Laura Curran Makes Leap to Politics". The New York Times. December 8, 2017. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 7, 2018.