Incoming Nassau County Executive Blakeman sits down with Eyewitness News to discuss future plans

NASSAU COUNTY (WABC) -- Eyewitness News reporter Kristin Thorne sat down with incoming Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman to talk about his plans for his tenure, which begins in the New Year.

"It's a big job, and there's a lot of issues," he said. "I'm really excited to work for the people of Nassau County."

Blakeman, a Hempstead Town Councilman, said two things at the top of his agenda are fighting crime and lowering taxes.

"We need to keep the tax burden as light as possible," he said. "But we also have to increase economic development."

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Blakeman, a Republican, said he will not enforce New York Governor Kathy Hochul's indoor mask mandate because he said Nassau County's high vaccination rate and wide availability of hospital beds don't warrant it.

In June, Blakeman - as a candidate - stood with parents in Massapequa Park who were demanding that school districts, not the state, get to decide whether their children wear masks in school.

He said he stands by that.

"I think it should be optional," he said. "It should be up to the local school boards. I have not seen the science yet that justifies making kids wear masks."

Blakeman said he also will not propose any vaccine mandates.

"I've gotten vaccinated myself," he said. "I've got a lot of healthcare professionals around me. But I also don't think that it would be right for me to mandate that you either get a vaccine or you get fired."

Blakeman is scheduled to be sworn into office on January 3 at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City.

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With COVID-19 cases spiking in New York City, officials are opening more testing sites. N.J. Burkett reports with the latest.

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