Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi announces his bid for re-election on the steps of the County Court Building in Mineola.
Saying that the county has moved beyond the dark days of crisis, Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi announced that he is running for re-election this November. Suozzi, a Democrat who was elected four years ago to the post that was held for three decades by the Nassau GOP, will be opposed by challenger, Republican Greg Peterson.
"Over four years ago we stood before you and told you of the mismanagement, the patronage, the deficits and the machine politics that had brought Nassau County to the brink of bankruptcy. I told you that we could, with your help, solve the fiscal crisis in Nassau County," Suozzi told supporters on Sunday, May 22, in front of numerous supporters on the steps of the County Court Building in Mineola.
The county executive was critical of the Nassau Republican Party, which he holds responsible for creating the fiscal mess that existed in Nassau County.
"That same machine is going to be pulling out all the stops to defeat us, because they care more about patronage jobs and taking care of their friends than about the taxpayer's best interests. Make no mistake; they are desperate to regain control of Nassau County government. They'll attack me. They'll spend a lot of money. They'll play on people's fears. And they will lie," he said. "But with four years of real results to show, we will be appealing to the hopes and the dreams of the people of Nassau County. And when we do that, they can't defeat us."
Suozzi touted the county's 'A' bond rating and the eight bond upgrades the county received in a year and a half period, the most upgrades for any municipality in the nation.
The county executive also pointed out that, after raising taxes his first year in office, his administration will make it three years in a row without an increase in the county portion of property owners' tax bills.
"Under the watchful eye of NIFA, the media and our opponents we set out to work as a team -Team Nassau," he said. "We cut the workforce to the lowest it's been in 30 years, rooted out $100 million in waste and fraud, we cut our borrowing in half, we fought to get Albany to cap the growth in unfunded mandates and we have passed two consecutive, conservatively balanced, no tax increase budgets. And we will pass a third no tax increase budget later this year."
Suozzi said there is plenty left to do. He cited restoring the county parks and preserving open space as an example of preserving quality of life. "Now, we are bringing Nassau back to the bright sunshine filled days where anything is possible," he said.
While the last race for county executive four years ago focused on the county's financial situation, this campaign figures to also revolve around finances.
The Peterson campaign has been critical of Suozzi for raising taxes 19.4 percent in his first budget as county executive. Peterson spokesman Rick Belyea questioned whether the county received its bond upgrades on the backs of the taxpayers. "Any time you increase your revenue stream by close to 40 percent in taxes and fees between the county executive and the legislature, of course your bond rating is going to go up," said Belyea. "Once again, we go back to the same old story - raise taxes and say you are balancing the budget by doing some incredible budgetary work when in reality you've taken more money from the taxpayers."
The Petersen team also believes the county executive should stop blaming the prior administration for the county's financial problems. "The blame game should be over at this point," Belyea said. "In reality, [the Suozzi] administration has taken more money from the taxpayers and has spent more money."