MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork)Nassau County is one of the most densely populated, affluent and influential counties in the state. This year, the executive is up for re-election and her opponent is trying to sell his plan to voters on the big three: crime, COVID-19, and property taxes.

But as CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Tuesday, it may be an uphill climb.

Republican Bruce Blakeman says he’s better prepared than popular incumbent Democrat Laura Curran to lead Nassau County. The experienced Hempstead town councilman thinks he can pull the upset.

“People are hurting from the coronavirus pandemic, they’re hurting from high taxes, they’re hurting from high crime,” Blakeman said.

“We have the number one vaccination rate of all 62 counties in New York state,” Curran said. “We were rated the safest community in America, according to U.S. News and World Report. We are finally managing our finances in such a way that we can do a responsible tax decrease.”

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Curran advocates say she inherited a mess and fixed it. Her predecessor, Ed Mangano, was convicted of corruption, along with Dean Skelos, who pressured Nassau for illegal county contracts for his son.

“I am serious about wiping out the corruption, and being responsible and being transparent,” Curran said.

“There have been a lot of scandals in both parties,” Blakeman said.

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So how does the system counter voter apathy?

“We got our first bond upgrading in 15 years. We have maintained fiscal discipline and we balanced our books,” Curran says on one television ad.

“I’m Bruce Blakeman. I’ll fix Curran’s broken reassessment and cut taxes,” Blakeman says on his own ad.

After 10 years without assessment, Curran supporters say she showed guts to pass a plan to value properties. However, Blakeman claims the assessments are not accurate, “when 200,000-plus people grieve their taxes in one year.”

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So what’s on the minds of voters?

“I’m not sure how anyone can afford housing these days,” Kim Walter said.

“Education for the kids with the COVID situation,” Marco Fung said.

“Assessments and taxes are definitely what I will consider come Nov. 2,” Alex Castro added.

Curran is awarding $375 checks to most households.

“This federal COVID recovery money and give it to our residents,” she said.

“It’s a political ploy, three weeks before the election,” Blakeman said.

Polls show voters like Curran.

“I am not afraid of doing the right thing, even when it’s difficult,” Curran said.

Blakeman says unease with progressive Democrats is affecting local races.

“People are fed up with Democratic policies. This year, they are going to vote Republican,” he said.

Political observers are watching Long Island’s suburban races as bellwethers for 2022, when Democrats will try to hold on to razor-thin margins in the House and Senate.

Jennifer McLogan