“We’re anticipating a large turnout, which I think is certainly indicative of the measure of importance when it comes to efforts to win back Nassau County,” said Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs prior to the Nassau County Democratic Committee Annual Spring Dinner, recently held at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury. “In 2017, I’m sure Nassau County will be getting attention, not just on a local level, but around the country.”
Jacobs’ prediction was justified by the substantial crowd that amassed on Monday, April 24, as just over 100 tables of Democratic dignitaries, candidates and supporters alike filled the grand ballroom.
Following cocktail hour, Jacobs opened up the dinner portion of the night articulating the aims of the Democratic party, specifically within the county, and introducing the lengthy list of influential politicians within the room, including Tom Perez, special guest and chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Also in attendance was Lee Seeman, currently serving her third term as a councilwoman for the Town of North Hempstead, representing the communities of North New Hyde Park, Garden City Park and Floral Park, and the villages of Saddle Rock, Great Neck Estates, Great Neck Plaza, Russell Gardens, University Gardens and Lake Success. Seeman was presented with the Judy Jacobs Lifetime Achievement Award.
“You can help the committee by getting involved right now. Let’s take back our county, then our country,” said Jacobs before welcoming Laura Curran, the current county legislator, serving the Fifth Legislative District, encompassing Nassau’s South Shore, who is running for the county executive position.
Running on a platform vowing to “end the culture of corruption and restore Nassau’s faith in its government,” Curran, who was elected to the legislature in 2013 and re-elected in 2015, is best known for enacting legislation that aided veteran-owned businesses, and mitigating the “zombie home” epidemic across Nassau County communities.
She will be running against Republican candidate Jack Martins, former New York State Senator representing the Seventh District, who was defeated by Democrat Tom Suozzi, also present at the dinner, in the 2016 election to represent New York’s Third Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives.
“We must stay vigilant and not let the forces of hate divide us again,” said Curran. “Local governments have been synonymous with corruption. Let’s end this culture of corruption. I ask the rest of Nassau County to join me in this fight.”
Attention toward the main stage at the front of the room intensified as Perez prepared to address the crowd. Known for his work in the Obama administration as the secretary of labor, nominated for the position in March 2013 and sworn in on July 23, 2013, Perez has been an outspoken proponent of fighting voter suppression, targeting gerrymandering, supporting state parties and emboldening candidates at all levels of government, and making facts on President Donald Trump and the Republican party more easily accessible.
Despite rumors that Perez might have served as a running mate to presidential-hopeful Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, he was ultimately not selected. He announced his candidacy for chair of the Democratic National Committee on Dec. 15, 2016, arguing that “we’ve got to organize, organize, organize. And we’ve got to make sure we build those relationships with state parties because we’ve lost touch with our voters…And the way you do that is to get out there in the communities, not just in urban areas, but in suburban and rural America and talk to people and listen.”
His presence at the Woodbury-based spring dinner was an attempt at just that, appealing to the likes of Nassau County’s Democratic hopefuls in the upcoming elections.
Much of his speech centered around Trump’s failure to enact any meaningful legislation within the first 100 days, despite the administration’s adamant touting of the fact that the President has signed 30 Executive Orders, more than any former U.S. president.
“The first 100 days have been riddled with corruption,” said Perez. “We are a strong country because we are a compassionate country, and these 100 days have indeed been chaos and carnage. We have the power of the people and we will continue to fight.”
He continued on to express his faith in local government, and the necessity of developing a Democratic stronghold across all levels of government.
“Local municipal elections are so important. We need to help elect Democrats up and down the ticket, from the school boards to the State Assembly,” he concluded. “We need to articulate what we believe, which is a government and an economy that works for everyone. We are a party of ‘we,’ not a party of ‘me.’”