Written by Joe Rizza and Victoria Caruso-Davis Monday, 07 December 2009 08:52
Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi announced on Tuesday, Dec. 1 that he will not challenge the election between him and Republican opponent Ed Mangano, ensuring that Mangano will become the next Nassau County Executive next month.
Suozzi said he would do whatever he can to help in the transition. “There are some people very well intentioned in the Democratic Party who wanted to keep on fighting. We’re not going to pursue anything like that whatsoever. I don’t think it would be fair to the people of Nassau County. I don’t think it would be fair to Mr. Mangano,” said Suozzi in front of high-ranking members of his staff and the media on the second floor ceremonial chamber of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building.
Last month, Suozzi and Mangano were locked in a race that was too close to call on Election Day. Since then, absentee ballots have been counted. At the time of Suozzi’s concession, Mangano had a 386-vote lead with some 328 ballots still left to be opened.
Suozzi was certainly considered the favorite to win re-election, but Mangano, playing the role of the underdog, found himself not only in the race, but it became apparent that there was a good chance he would become the next county executive.
In an interview with Anton Community Newspapers, Mangano said he was on his way to his office at the legislature when Suozzi called him to concede. “It was a welcomed and gracious call,” said Mangano. “I look forward to working with Tom and this being a smooth transition.”
On a personal level, Mangano said he “feels great” and is grateful to all who supported him. “Every single person who voted for me played a crucial role in what turned out to be such a tight race. The American Dream lives in Nassau County.”
While Mangano vows to “do the best job with the monumental task ahead” of him, he is optimistic that what lies ahead of him is “good government.”
Top on this list includes the examination and reform of the real property tax assessment system and the elimination of the home energy tax. Additionally, Mangano said that the green energy fund legislation he put forth would move forward. “This is a change in direction for Nassau County and the opportunity to put the principles I spoke about into effect. That’s what this is about,” he said.
In failing for his goal to serve a third term as Nassau County Executive, Suozzi believes he was the victim of a low voter turnout and taxpayers’ anger over the high property taxes in Nassau County. “I lost this race because people are fed up with property taxes. People just didn’t show up and those who did are angry. Property taxes are the number one problem we face here on Long Island. But I have absolutely no regrets whatsoever. We have done everything we possibly could to address the property tax problem,” Suozzi said, adding that the county portion of the property tax bill decreased from 23 percent of the total property tax bill to 16 percent under his administration.
“On school taxes, which have nothing to do with the county government, we have led the charge statewide to try and correct the problem of property taxes and school taxes throughout the entire State of New York. We could not have done any more than we did,” Suozzi said, alluding to the Fix Albany campaign and the New York State Commission on Property Tax Relief, which he chaired.
However, Suozzi doesn’t believe his ambition to run for higher office in New York State led to his defeat. “I think there’s no secret that I would like to run for higher office. I ran for Governor of New York State. I don’t think the reason I lost this race was because people were mad at me that I had ambition for higher office. If anything, it may have been my fault for not having done more to get the vote out in this election,” he said.
Suozzi leaves the post he has held for the past eight years with no regrets. “I am very proud of this government and what has been accomplished,” he said.
Suozzi said that although people may not be better off than they were eight years ago because of the national economic downturn, the county government is better off now than it was eight years ago. “Nassau County government is a professional operation that provides good services to people in an effective way,” he said.
In addition to Mangano’s win over Suozzi, longtime Democratic incumbent Nassau County Legislators Dave Mejias (14th L.D.) and Jeff Toback (7th L.D.) also lost their re-election bids; Mejias conceded to Republican contender Joseph Belesi on Nov. 30. As a result, Nassau County Legislature, as of Jan. 1, 2010, will hold an 11-8 Republican majority. It has wbeen a decade since the GOP last had control.
Additionally, on Dec. 1, Democratic Comptroller Howard Weitzman, conceded his race to Republican challenger George Maragos. “Although the results of the election are not what I hoped for, it has been an honor to serve the people of Nassau County for 8 years and I am proud of what I have accomplished as comptroller: creating the Nassau Rx prescription discount card, exposing the waste and fraud that drive up property taxes, conducting the first county audits of special taxing districts, forcing the state health insurance program to stop overcharging Long Island, and providing independent oversight of county government on behalf of taxpayers. These are but a few of our accomplishments as we raised the profile and reach of the comptroller’s office,” said Weitzman.