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Suozzi: I Love Massapequa

Last week, the political scene in Nassau took an unexpected twist when Tom Suozzi, the former Democratic county executive, announced that he is seeking to reclaim the office he held for two terms before being narrowly defeated by Republican Ed Mangano in 2009 in a bid for a third term. Right after his announcement, Suozzi kicked off his campaign and stopped at Anton Community Newspapers for a meeting with editors. He was questioned about his relationship with Massapequa, a town dominated by Republicans. He expressed an affinity for the area.

“Southeast Nassau is one of the only places that is still consistent with the original suburban concept,” he remarked. “It’s still the closest to the original suburban dream and I would like to keep it the way it is,”

Although Republicans far outnumber Democrats in the Massapequa area, Suozzi said he believes Massapequans will vote for him because another Suozzi administration would offer “fiscal stability, a vision for the future and keeping the proper services.” He added that Massapequans were appreciative of his efforts to bring the police academy to the former BOCES center on Second Avenue in Massapequa Park. He also spoke of providing resources to help Massapequa schools dealing with a heroin epidemic as well his efforts to work with Town of Oyster Bay officials to bring the Field of Dreams to Sunrise Highway. Suozzi even had kinds words for the town’s supervisor, who is a Republican.

“I’ve always had a good relationship with John Venditto,” he remarked.

Suozzi served as Nassau County Executive for two terms, elected in 2001 and then re-elected in 2005. However, he was narrowly defeated by Mangano. During his time as a county executive, Suozzi also made a failed bid for the governor in 2006, but was trounced by Elliot Spitzer in the 2006 Democratic primary. Critics of Suozzi said that he was too concerned with seeking higher office, which led to his running a less than inspired campaign. Suozzi admitted that he might have been lax in his 2009 bid for re-election but promises that he is focused solely on the county executive position.

“I love the job of county executive,” he said. “I miss doing the job and if that’s all I ever do, I don’t need to so something else.”

Suozzi said that taxes are the biggest issue facing Nassau County, and while Republicans will criticize him for raising property taxes during his administration, he says that he actually has fought for tax relief and was asked by Governors Spitzer and Paterson to be the chairperson of the Property Tax Commission. He says he fought hard to get the New York State Property Tax Cap implemented, and adds that he will fight to increase the amount of state aid given to Nassau County schools as well as eliminating unfunded mandates.

In other county issues, Suozzi called it “a disgrace” that the Islanders will be leaving for Brooklyn in 2015. He said his vision for that Nassau Hub includes the hope that it will be home for hi-tech companies, office buildings, housing and a hi-speed bus service so that visitors to the area can easily travel between the museums, Eisenhower Park and other attractions in the hub. He was emphatic in not wanting a casino built there, and while he said he is against a casino anywhere in Nassau, he left open the possibility of one at Belmont racetrack.

“We will get business back by creating places that people want to be,” he commented. “Let’s get something built there that will transform what will exist.”

He also spoke of revitalizing downtown areas, referring to his plan as “99/1”, in which 99 percent of the county is left alone, but one percent is developed. Suozzi also said he agreed with the decision to privatize Nassau buses, and also did not object to Mangano’s plan to consolidate Nassau police precincts into four, although he said that the plan “was poorly communicated to police.”  In addition, Suozzi also said he is against Mangano’s decision to shift the costs for the overpayment of taxes to school districts and said he has an alternate plan which he will release later during the campaign.

Most significantly, Suozzi took issue with what he called “the borrowing like crazy” done during the Mangano administration. He said that, as well as the downgrading of the county’s bonds, prompted him to seek his old job back.