Written by Chris Boyle Saturday, 26 October 2013 00:00
With the election fast approaching, the Carle Place Civic Association hosted a number of political hopefuls in a “Meet the Candidates” night last Wednesday. In front of a packed room of local residents, each of a bevy of candidates was given a chance to make an impression on prospective voters.
Both seasoned pols seeking another shot as well as newcomers to the political arena came to educate the public on their experience and platforms.
Edward P. Mangano has served as County Executive for the past four years, after ousting eight-year incumbent Tom Suozzi in 2009. Mangano highlighted differences between the Nassau County helmed by Suozzi and the state of the
County today, citing improvements in taxes, business, and crime rates.
“In 2009, after Suozzi increased property taxes 39 percent, we were left with the depletion of our reserves, a blooming $385 million deficit, rising unemployment, and the lowest sales tax revenue in 20 years,” he said. “That just highlights to me that those policies didn’t work, so we set forth new policies. I believe that high taxes kill jobs.”
“We established programs to help small businesses and set forth aggressively to bring new companies to Nassau County, and we now have the lowest unemployment and highest job growth rates in the region.” Mangano added. “We’re also creating suitable housing opportunities for our residents.”
Suozzi is seeking to regain his old job, which he believes he lost (by a mere 386 votes) only because he thought that he was “way ahead” in the polls and “didn’t take the race seriously.” Suozzi outlined the many issues facing Nassau residents today and spoke on his plans to revitalize the county.
“Back in 1999, Nassau was on the verge of bankruptcy, and when I was elected in 2002, I fixed the problems. I fought with the state, cut the borrowing, and reduced the debt. We had 13 bond upgrades, eight balanced budgets, and eight surpluses,” he said. “Under Mangano, they’ve had three bond downgrades and the county’s finances have been taken over by the state, they’re so bad.”
“The problem is that young people are not moving out here, and as a result, we are not expanding our tax base,” Suozzi continued. “We need to preserve our suburban quality of life, but we need to build up our downtown areas. That will expand the tax base, increase sales tax revenue, and create places that young people will want to live in.”
The seat of Nassau County Comptroller is also up for grabs, with four-year incumbent George Maragos facing off against Howard Weitzman, who held the position from 2002 to 2009.
Maragos touted his 35 years of private industry experience and efficient management.
“Government, like a business, has to live within its means. It can not spend more than what it earns,” he said. “I rejected hundreds of contracts of little or no value, saving the county over $300 million; we have streamlined departments; and there have been no property tax increases in four consecutive years, the only country in New York State to have done so.”
Weitzman cited his achievements in strengthening county finances enough to move up the credit-rating ladder from near-bankruptcy to more solid fiscal footing. “I’m very proud of what I was able to achieve while I was Nassau County
Comptroller. During that time I was known for very hard-hitting audits, pointing out millions of dollars in waste and abuse,” he said. “My opponent will tell you that everything is fine, but the county has been downgraded three times,
compared to when I was Comptroller, where we had 13 bond upgrades. When I left office, the county had a stable outlook and finances from the rating agencies, but now they a negative outlook. And the county’s finances have been taken over by a state control board.”
Maureen O’Connell, up for re-election as Nassau County Clerk, also spoke.
“My office is charged with the responsibility of maintaining all of the land records for the ownership of real property here in Nassau County,” she said. “For those of you who come into my office, my job is to personalize each and every one of your issues to make sure that you get the most efficient service.” Her opponent was not in attendance.
Among the other guests at the Carle Place Civic Association’s “Meet the Candidates” night were: Lesli P. Hiller, Frank Doddato, and Scott Siller, all running for District Court judge; Patricia Harrington, running for County Court judge; Erica
Prager and David Goodsell, both running for re-election as District Court judges; and incumbent Viviana Russell and opponent Anthony Bulzomi, who are both vying for the District 1 Council seat.