On New Year's Day, 2002, Thomas R. Suozzi followed his eight years as Mayor of Glen Cove by beginning his new role as the first Democratic Nassau County Executive in 30 years. This administration also marks the first time in history that Nassau County has both a Democrat as county executive and a Democratic majority in the legislature.
The Honorable Thomas R. Suozzi is sworn in as Nassau County Executive as his wife Helene holds the Bible.
In his inaugural speech, Mr. Suozzi asked that the residents of Nassau County "commit your talent, your time and your goodwill to break with the tired past of cynicism, lethargy and political expedience and rekindle the idealism, energy and optimism that will be needed to rebuild." His speech, filled with a call for unity and non-partisanship, was well received by the full house gathered at the Tilles Center.
Declaring "we are ready to go to work," Mr. Suozzi described the two main objectives of "Team Nassau" as solving the county's fiscal crisis, and building upon that solid fiscal foundation. He unveiled his plan to address the daunting task facing the new administration. He declared a countywide freeze on hiring, overtime and purchasing and declared the implementation, in conjunction with labor unions, of an employee evaluation process to reward employees based on performance. He promised to discover "what has caused the fiscal morass we now find ourselves in and to develop a roadmap to get us out of it." Wasting no time in getting things under way, Mr. Suozzi has called for a meeting this Friday with Democrat Majority Leader Judith Jacobs, Republican Minority Leader Peter Schmitt, Comptroller Howard Weitzman, Nassau Interim Finance Authority officials, the Independent Office of Budget Review and his own budget and finance team to begin the development of his four-year plan.
Among the many elected officials and community and religious leaders who spoke, was U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, who called the new county executive "a man of three qualities - hard work, courage and vision." He declared that Mr. Suozzi would fulfill the Athenian pledge of classical Greece wherein an elected official is advised to leave his jurisdiction a better place than when he first took charge.
The oath of office was administered to Mr. Suozzi by his father, the Honorable Judge Joseph A. Suozzi and his uncle, the Honorable Judge Vincent (Jimmy) Suozzi, both former mayors of Glen Cove. In an emotional address, Judge Suozzi expressed his profound pride both in his son, and in the American way of life. Only in America, he said, could a man born in a small Italian village 80 years ago watch his son pursue and achieve his goal and rise to assume this elected office.