Tom Suozzi continued his tenure as Nassau County Executive on Jan. 1, 2006, when he was sworn in for his second term. Amid speculation that Suozzi will eventually announce a run for governor, the Democrat spent New Year's Day at home in Glen Cove addressing the crowd who gathered at the Robert C. Finley Middle School.
Having been sworn in by his father, Joseph A. Suozzi, a former judge and mayor of Glen Cove, Suozzi spoke about the accomplishments of the past four years.
Four years ago, Suozzi spoke about the most urgent of fixing the county's fiscal crisis, a goal he feels the county has accomplished. "Nassau's bond rating was barely above junk. Now, for the first time in 12 years, Nassau County's finances are straight 'A's' and we have received 11 bond rating increases, more than any other municipality in the nation," he said. "On this New Year's Day, we can look back and say that together, with my hardworking staff, with NIFA (the Nassau Interim Finance Authority) and the county legislature, led by presiding officer Judy Jacobs, we have fulfilled our fiscal promises. It wasn't easy, but we have accomplished our charge."
Suozzi also spoke of the "New Suburbia" and a vision for planned growth that creates high-paying jobs, strengthens the county's tax base, reduces traffic congestion and provides housing for the next generation of young people. The county executive said the "New Suburbia" targets responsible growth in the county's traditional downtowns, brownfields and emerging minority neighborhoods.
"The 'New Suburbia' program requires the transformation of the Nassau Center - the HUB - with new exciting development and public transportation on and around the Nassau Coliseum property," Suozzi said. "Together we will work to ensure that the Coliseum redevelopment will happen and it will happen responsibly. Additionally, we will build on our relationships with village mayors to make the vision of New Suburbia a reality."
If anyone expected speculation that Suozzi will announce a run for governor to be extinguished, the fire was only fueled when Suozzi made mention of state issues that impact Nassau residents.
In 2004, the county executive began his "Fix Albany" campaign to cap the growth of unfunded state mandates like Medicaid on county government. Suozzi hasn't backed off the need to "fix Albany." Most recently, he announced plans to attack high school taxes.
"We have tremendous work ahead of us. Reducing school taxes, combating Medicaid fraud and developing a new vision of growth that protects our suburban future - each of these tasks are daunting," Suozzi said. "I do not yet know all the answers of how to solve these problems, but I do know that school taxes are crushing our residents. I do know that Medicaid fraud is diverting precious dollars away from important, worthy programs and I know that if we do not develop a long-term vision for New Suburbia, we will continue to be plagued by erratic, unplanned development, increasing taxes and traffic and young people will flee our Island."
Suozzi seems bent on fixing Albany. "We know that we cannot truly fix our residents problems until we fix Albany," he said.
However, Suozzi seems confident that the problems will be fixed through commitment. "We can solve the unsolvable, change the seemingly unchangeable and we can be those forces of history that made our history one of enlightened progress and accomplishment," he said.