Bruce Blakeman, elected to the Nassau County Executive, on Wednesday appointed Arthur Walsh as general counsel for the Nassau Regional Off Track Betting Corp. and senior lieutenant to Joseph Cairo Jr., the agency’s chairman and Republican president of Nassau.
Also on Wednesday, Blakeman pledged to speak with leaders of the Nassau police and public service unions, whose members worked under contracts expiring in 2017.
“I expect that as part of my transition, we’ll start talking to them right away and getting some of the issues that the unions are having, and obviously we’ll be looking at them from a county perspective,” Blakeman said.
Blakeman announced his administration’s priorities and the selection of his deputy county chief executive at a press conference in Mineola, where he was flanked by Republican county lawmakers.
A day earlier, Curran conceded in the race after a full tally of mail-in votes, affidavits and emergency ballots was concluded.
In total, Curran lost by 2,150 votes, according to the Board of Elections.
Walsh is general counsel for Nassau OTB, a quasi-governmental agency, where Cairo is chairman in addition to his role as party chairman.
Walsh earns $180,000 a year in the role of OTB and is also an unpaid Vice President of the Nassau Republican Party and a member of the Floral Park GOP committee.
Mike Deery, a spokesman for the Nassau Republican committee, did not immediately say whether Walsh planned to step down as party leader.
In January 2018, Curran signed an executive order barring senior county officials from holding “a position of authority within any political party…”
Blakeman also tapped personal injury attorney Christopher McGrath, a former Republican state Senate candidate and vice chairman of the Nassau Republican Committee, to chair his transition team.
Blakeman announced a website, servenassau.com, to solicit resumes for jobs in the new administration.
“We should all be united, I believe we are united, on issues that protect taxpayers and their wallets, grow our economy, keep Nassau safe, create jobs and protect parents’ rights, and so much more. “, did he declare.
On the rise in COVID-19 cases and Gov. Kathy Hochul’s warning this week that health protocols could be expanded, Blakeman said he would defer to Curran for now.
“We are monitoring the situation very closely. I have the utmost respect for the county executive,” he said, “and she will be the county executive until January 1, so I will report to her. all the questions.”
Asked to elaborate on the topic of “parents’ rights,” Blakeman highlighted his opposition to campaigning for mask mandates for children in schools. He said school districts “should determine the policies in their own schools.”
He said: “The government should not interfere with parents regarding the rights of their children. And I think the government can sometimes be very harsh. I am a strong believer in the Constitution, individual rights and I think that’s something I’ll get into in January, and I’ll talk about it enough.”
He said he will decide within the next two weeks whether to retain Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder in his post.
“I consult with people on my transition team who advise me on law enforcement and homeland security issues…” Blakeman said.
Walsh will contact Curran County Assistant General Manager Helena Williams, Blakeman said, adding that he believes the transition will begin Dec. 1 or 2.
He said he expects to have Democrats in his administration, but that nominees must be “philosophically in line with my platform.”
“I don’t expect it to be a one-time staffing,” he said. “I believe my transition team will have a significant number of Democrats on the team.”
He added, “Anyone who comes to work for my administration has to be on the same page with my agenda.”