UNIONDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — There was an official change in leadership Monday for Nassau County‘s 1.4 million residents.

Republican Bruce Blakeman was sworn in as county executive after beating incumbent Laura Curran in a close race in November, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.

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The oath of office was administered by his wife, an attorney.

It was a new day in Nassau, as evidenced by the crowd inside the Cradle of Aviation Museum, many unmasked and no proof of vaccination requested.

“Nassau is normal again. We have seen the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we can no longer be afraid. We still have challenges, but they are manageable,” Blakeman said.

COVID VACCINE

He said that includes a common sense approach to minimizing health danger while recognizing economic, social, and mental health consequences.

But with Nassau leading the state with a nearly 25% COVID infection rate, Democratic leaders blasted Blakeman for recklessly disregarding safety protocols by hosting what they called a potential super-spreader event.

South Shore Democrats said that is certainly not the type of leadership Nassau needs now.

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“That’s not our new normal where I represent. We are covered up, want to protect our elderly, our children,” said Assemblywoman Taylor Darling.

“This is America. People have freedom of choice. I chose to wear a mask. I think people should wear a mask. It makes you safer,” Rep. Tom Suozzi said.

Blakeman blasted what he called “hysteria,” insisting Nassau is not in crisis.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

And he repeated the mantra that swept him into office in a red tsunami, despite a popular incumbent credited for fixing Nassau’s long-broken assessment system. He said it’s still broken.

“There is no reason why millionaires should pay zero taxes and that homes that are identical in the same community pay vastly different tax rates,” Blakeman said.

And he said he’ll go to Albany to repeal bail reform.

“Criminals have more rights than victims. Enough is enough,” Blakeman said.

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No stranger to politics, Blakemen had run for Congress and New York City mayor in the past, but he has finally landed an elected executive role. He said his goal is for Nassau to become the most vibrant place to live in the world, now that it is back to normal again.

Carolyn Gusoff