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Culture And Politics

Move Over, Mr. Bryant

Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano traveled to Roslyn Harbor last Wednesday for the unveiling of a road marker commemorating Cedarmere, the home of William Cullen Bryant. But as soon as he stepped out of his vehicle, all the talk was about politics as Mangano was peppered with questions about Thomas R. Suozzi’s announcement that he too would run for his old job as county executive.

Mangano appeared ready for the inevitable questions, claiming that a possible rematch of the 2009 race would present a “stark contrast” between Suozzi and himself. Mangano criticized Suozzi for raising property taxes, while adding that his administration had cut such taxes. Mangano used the impromptu press conference to claim that his administration was taking the county in the “right direction,” adding that “for the first time, jobs are coming back” to Nassau County and that his administration had a proven ability to attract jobs. 

Responding to questions about the difficulty of being a county executive in a time of natural disasters and economic slowdown, Mangano was glad to praise his administration’s response to Hurricane Sandy, lauding a “wonderful county workforce.” 

In 2009, Mangano, then a county legislator, defeated Suozzi who was seeking a third term in a close race that saw an extended count of absentee ballots. Mangano said he thought it was be “easier” to win a rematch, noting that in 2009, his campaign had limited funds, while in 2013, it would have ample funds to get its message out.

Mangano also noted that the Democratic Party will hold a primary to determine their nominee for the county executive race and he hoped to withhold “further comment” on the race until the primary was held. On the Democratic side, Suozzi’s lone opponent so far is Roslyn resident Adam Haber. 

After the political give and take, a more bipartisan ceremony took place as Mangano was joined by Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman, Town Clerk Leslie Gross, Nassau County Legislator Wayne Wink, plus town historian and East Hills resident, Howard Kroplick. Also in attendance were local residents who have been at the forefront of Cedarmere restoration: John B. Dawson, Jr., Franklin Perrell, executive director of the Roslyn Landmark Society and Len Shaw, also a Landmark Society member.

In his brief talk, Mangano praised the existence of the marker, a blue and yellow structure, for signifying the historical importance of Bryant’s life. Kaiman praised both the county and the town for coming together to helping county residents to discover Cedarmere and “share the Long Island story.” Kroplick praised those lawmakers in attendance for writing letters of support to the Pomeroy Foundation, which provided a grant for the marker. Wink said the marker would both serve as a “symbol of Bryant’s contributions” while inspiring residents to redouble their efforts to protect houses such as Cedarmere. Speaking of famous houses, Dawson said that Cedarmere, with the exception of Theodore Roosevelt’s Sagamore Hill, was the most important home in Nassau County, giving an added emphasis to preservation efforts. 

After the brief talks, it was off to the actual unveiling ceremony on 256 Bryant Ave. The marker’s appearance is part of a modest revival in Bryant’s fortunes. Last year, the state assembly approved renaming the Roslyn Viaduct Bridge after Bryant and each year, the Bryant Library holds a lecture in his name. While the day was one for reflection on Bryant and his role in American literature and history, it also proved that the 2013 county executive’s race is well underway.