Written by Matthew A. Piacentini Friday, 08 January 2010 00:00
The ticket that Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano rode to victory was the same one that Republican candidates used in Nassau County to regain a majority in the legislature this November – lower spending, fees and taxes.
Simple promises like the repeal of the home energy tax and more complicated financially oriented commitments like the overhaul of the assessment system spoke to voters’ economic woes. Now, as Peter Schmitt was sworn in as presiding officer and Republican legislators, include Hicksville’s Rose Marie Walker, were sworn in as his majority, the clear message at their inauguration ceremony was: there will be cuts in county staff, decreases in county spending, cuts in county revenue (like $20-$40 million from the repealed energy tax) no tax increases and, most importantly, no cuts in services to county residents.
Mangano and his legislative counterparts ran on these promises and Jan. 4 at the Cradle of Aviation ceremony, they assured the large audience that they will deliver residents through these difficult times by doing “the same with less.”
“Our campaign platform was not hollow promises,” Schmitt said after Congressman Peter T. King swore him in. He assured the crowd and press that the change in government that morning was, “not a power shift,” as the media had interpreted it. Rather, “it is a continuum of services to county residents,” Schmitt said.
The “new mantra” under his leadership will be: “Can we afford it?” Schmitt said that as all families are asking this question right now, so too should their county government. “It is not our money,” he said, promising that the legislators will be asking, “Can it be done cheaper? Can it done by someone else… or not at all?”
Schmitt said part of the new plan to make Nassau more inviting to people, rather than a place that is driving residents and businesses out with high fees and taxes, will be to consolidate with local governments where possible. The bottom line was a lower bottom line. “We are presented with a unique opportunity and a grave responsibility to chart a new course for Nassau,” he said, promising, “tax and fee increases will not be part of the solution.”
Congressman King said that in these dire times with the grave mandate Schmitt described, voters should feel confident in his agenda.
“We need someone who is willing to stand up and do what needs to be done,” King said, “there is no one better than Peter Schmitt.” The congressman added that, “the issues confronting us transcend party lines,” encouraging the legislators to “come together.”
Schmitt did promise in his speech to treat the Democrats with respect and work with them toward the common good. Diane Yatauro of Glen Cove is minority leader; she and her caucus were sworn in by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
Yatauro highlighted the two priorities she sees for the governing body this year: financial stability and a review of the assessment process. She said her caucus is, “prepared to work hard to find the right answers,” and encouraged bi-partisanship saying, “Let us work together to do the people’s business.”
Yatauro recognized the contribution of former county executive Thomas R. Suozzi, noting several great accomplishments and then she welcomed his successor, Ed Mangano.
“He is a great man, we wish him well,” Yatauro said of Mangano. “We stand ready to assist,” working to “maintain all essential services.”
Of Yatauro, Comptroller DiNapoli said that she has proven herself as a great leader. “It is no surprise your colleagues chose you to be presiding officer and now to continue to lead,” he said.
DiNapoli also welcomed Mangano, warning, “Don’t let the job change you. You’re a great person.”
Mangano said that he indeed felt very welcomed by the legislative body. He told the audience that he was looking forward to working with Presiding Officer Schmitt.
“He has always been a strong voice for Nassau County,” Mangano said.
The county executive also thanked Yatauro for her contribution as presiding officer and said he looked forward to working with her, asserting that bi-partisan efforts are especially needed in this grim period.
“If we don’t work together, building new bridges,” Mangano said, “we will have a tough time. I recognize that each of you has an obligation to your district,” he told the legislators, “but you also have a global obligation to the greater good.”
At the swearing in Walker, who will serve as chairwoman of the legislature’s Health & Social Services Committee and vice chair of the Veterans & Senior Affairs Committee as well as a member of the Rules Committee and the Finance Committee, said, “We’ve inherited a deficit of dismal proportions and a budget reliant on one-shots, borrowing and tax increases. I am very anxious to begin resolving this imbalance without imposing any new taxes or fees on the overburdened taxpayers of this county.”