Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman, a Democrat, was elected Nassau County comptroller Tuesday night, defeating Republican Steve Labriola, a former chief deputy county comptroller, by roughly 4,000 votes.
“I’m very excited that the voters of Nassau County voted for reform tonight,” Schnirman said at the Inn at New Hyde Park after his win. “Now we’ve got to go to work in January doing exactly what we said we’re going to do, which is bring independent reform, transparency and accountability to Nassau County.”
Schnirman earned 138,716 votes to Labriola’s 134,561.
Schnirman, 40, who will replace George Maragos, ran on a platform focused on fixing the county’s finances and its contracting process, contending that demands for reform have long been ignored. He prioritized modernizing the county’s financial operations; auditing agencies to target waste, fraud and abuse, and making the comptroller’s office more accessible to residents.
Schnirman ran alongside County Legislator Laura Curran, a Democrat from Baldwin, who defeated Republican opponent Jack Martins in the contest for county executive. Schnirman said he planned to partner with Curran to repair the county’s finances.
“I look forward to working with Laura Curran as a partner,” he said, “but as she always reminds me, it’s my job to be independent and hold everyone accountable.” Earlier this year, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, the state monitoring board that controls the county’s finances, ordered the county to cut $100 million in spending from its 2018 budget to close a projected deficit.
Schnirman, who was appointed city manager in 2012, noted how the administration turned the city’s finances around after it inherited a $14.7 million deficit from the previous Republican administration and was on the brink of bankruptcy, as well as the city’s recovery efforts after Hurricane Sandy.
He pointed to improved financial controls that led to growth in Long Beach’s reserve fund, which now totals $9.4 million, and credit rating upgrades from Moody’s Investors Service. He pledged to bring the same principles to county government.
Schnirman said he would serve the remainder of his two-year contract with the city, which the City Council voted to renew as 2016 began. It is his third contract with the city, which makes him the longest-tenured city manager in Long Beach since Ed Eaton, who served for 25 years.
The current contract pays Schnirman an annual salary of $173,871, and provides for up to six months severance if he is terminated early.
He said he plans to help the City Council find his replacement. “I will keep doing my job,” he said. “There’s so much more to do. As a resident, homeowner, father and taxpayer in Long Beach, I look forward to being part of that for years to come.”
“I would anticipate we’re going to — as a council and with new Councilman-elect John Bendo — that we’ll get together to determine the scope of the search and eagerly try to find somebody to take over as city manager,” said Councilman Scott Mandel. “Someone who is also going to be focused on doing what’s best for Long Beach.”