Schnirman may run for Nassau County executive

Long Island Herald

Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman is mulling a run for Nassau County executive next year, the first Democrat to announce a possible election bid for a seat currently held by Republican Ed Mangano.

Schnirman, 38, recently filed paperwork with the New York State Board of Elections to create an exploratory committee, the first step in a possible run for higher office.

Though rumors have been circulating for months that he was interested in running for county executive next year, Schnirman emphasized that he is currently only "weighing his options."

“It’s something that has been suggested to me over the course of months and something I started to think about with a little more seriousness recently,” Schnirman said. “Having grown up on Long Island, I made the commitment to raise my family here in Nassau County. It’s clear how special living here can be, and that’s why I stand with so many who feel the frustration of Nassau’s failing finances, perpetual scandal and dysfunction — we deserve better and I will listen to all those who share the desire to move Nassau forward and explore how best I can be of service.”

If he decides to run, Schnirman said that he would still serve the remainder of his two-year contract with the city, which the City Council voted to renew in March, through the end of 2017. He also said that the formation of a committee would not interfere with his role as city manager.

“It’s business as usual at City Hall,” he said. “Everybody is focused, as always, on improving our finances and rebuilding the city.”

According to Newsday, Mangano has not indicated whether he will seek a third term as county executive since he was first elected in 2009. No Republican challengers have emerged.

Others rumored to be considering a run for the office include County Comptroller George Maragos and State Assemblyman Charles Lavine.

Nassau County Democratic Committee Chairman Jay Jacobs said that it’s too early to say who might receive the party’s endorsement.

“The party won’t back a candidate for a while,” Jacobs said. “We want to see how the dust settles, who’s out there and what the landscape looks like. For the party, we’re going to make a decision based on No. 1, who can do the job, and No. 2, who can win.”

Still, Jacobs said that Schnirman is a viable candidate.

“He’s a talented individual and he is someone who has demonstrated his experience in municipal affairs,” Jacobs said. “I‘m pretty comfortable with him getting started and he can certainly be a very viable candidate.”

Schnirman was appointed in Dec. 2011 after the Democrats wrested control of City Hall from the Republican-led coalition. In his first year alone, he grappled with a staggering fiscal crisis that left the city on the brink of bankruptcy and Hurricane Sandy.

Schnirman previously served as Brookhaven’s deputy chief supervisor from 2006 to 2008, managing the town’s day-to-day operations under Supervisor Brian Foley in the state’s largest township.

Schnirman — who earned a degree in international relations from Tufts University and a master’s in public policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government — was the campaign manager for the Brookhaven Democratic Committee in 2005, overseeing nine campaigns that led to the election of Foley and a Democratic Town Council majority, the first change of majorities in decades.

He resigned from his position in Brookhaven to become vice president of management consulting at Mineola-based Bowne Management Systems.

This year marked Schnirman’s 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 recent contract agreement includes Schnirman’s current annual salary of $173,871 and up to six months severance if he's terminated early.

City Council Vice President Anthony Eramo, a Democrat running for State Assembly, praised Schnirman’s accomplishments as city manager.

“He’s doing a great job here in Long Beach,” Eramo said. “I know he’s qualified for that position — if he is considering a run, I know that he would still keep Long Beach first and continue to fight for the residents.”

Schnirman has had his share of critics over the years, most notably over the restructuring of the Fire Department and the layoffs of five professional firefighters in 2015 after a federal grant came to an end.

And while the city has stayed under the state tax cap over the past three years, a number of residents blasted a tax increase in May to cover the remainder of a $20 million judgment the city must pay to two former owners of the Superblock property to resolve a decades-old lawsuit — and avoid drastic cuts in services.

But many residents — including some regular critics of the administration — supported the recent renewal of Schnirman’s contract, with many citing his leadership out of a financial crisis — the city has since received eight consecutive positive credit ratings — and during the city’s recovery after Sandy.

“I think as a whole, the council is pleased with his leadership and ability to fulfill the vision for our city,” said Councilwoman Anissa Moore. “At the same time, we recognize that he’s exploring his options. As a council, it’s still our priority to maintain the stability of our city.”