CARLE PLACE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Ethics are taking center stage in the Nassau County executive race, a county that has seen a parade of handcuffed politicians.
Current County Executive Ed Mangano, who was indicted last year on federal corruption charges, did not seek re-election.
“It’s hard to know who to trust,” one voter told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.
Both Republican candidate Jack Martins and Democrat Laura Curran promise a cleanup.
“All of the abuses that have taken place in the past are a thing of the past because we’re going to restore law and order, and check and balances,” Martins said.
“We deserve a government that lives up to the people who live here, that is open, that is transparent and that is not corrupt,” Curran said.
How would each achieve that?
Curran wants to overhaul the contract procurement process, limit campaign contributions and create an independent inspector general.
“We need to make sure that we hire based on what you know, not who you know,” she said. “We have to clean up the contracting process and make sure that our ethics board is not chosen by the county executive.”
A former state senator, Martins sponsored the ballot proposal to strip pensions from corrupt officials.
On the county level, he supports stronger vetting practices to prevent nepotism and conflicts of interest. Martins also opposes a new inspector general.
“They want to grow government. I say take the positons you have there already (and) empower them, provide them with resources and staff and make sure they have the independence,” he said.
While both promise honesty, they accuse each other of stretching the truth.
“Voting for Curran is like voting to put (New York City Mayor Bill) de Blasio’s corrupt team in charge of Nassau County,” one Martins ad says.
The Democrat’s response?
“There is no connection to de Blasio,” she said. “I don’t know the guy. I’m talking about Nassau County.”
And from the Curran camp: “First Jack Martins is caught on an FBI wiretape with (former state Senate Majority Leader) Dean Skelos, defends him even after his corruption arrest,” an ads says.
When asked for his response, Martins said: “Dean Skelos was removed as majority leader within one week of his being indicted.”
Voters will have the last word Tuesday in the expensive and close race. Democrats slightly outnumber Republicans in Nassau County, but Republicans have a history of getting out the vote.