For the next six weeks, you will hear county executive candidate Thomas Suozzi and Democratic legislators who are up for election complain that Republican incumbent Executive Ed Mangano and the Republican legislators have borrowed too much, raised fees and generally mismanaged their jobs for the past four years, when Democrats were in the minority.
Suozzi — whom Mangano defeated in 2009, when Suozzi sought a third term — will say that when he began his eight-year tenure as executive, he was left with an awful mess by Tom Gulotta, and that he cleaned up the mess. Things were better when Democrats controlled the government, they will say.
And while they’re saying all that, you’ll hear Mangano and Republican legislators emphasize that they haven’t raised property taxes in four years, haven’t borrowed too much, have cut expenses and are in the process of getting the Hub developed into an outstanding destination. Mangano will say that when he began his four-year term as executive, he had to fix an awful mess left by Suozzi. Things have been better since Republicans have controlled the government, they’ll say.
Likewise, in the Town of Hempstead elections, the Republican incumbents will tout the town’s fiscal, environmental and service record, while Democratic challengers will charge that long-term GOP dominance has led to corruption, arrogance, bullying and waste.
Now that you’ve heard everything both sides will say, there’s no need to listen to them, right? Wrong. Those may be the things the candidates say, but the county elections aren’t about the candidates; they’re about the people who live here and the businesses that are trying to succeed here.
Voters have responsibilities in these elections, too. From now until Nov. 5, they must listen critically to candidates, demand answers to their questions and not be satisfied with vague platitudes and polled, rehearsed campaign statements. Candidates must reveal specifically what they will do to address problems. Voters shouldn’t accept statements like, “The assessment system is broken, and I’ll fix it.” “There’s too much waste, and I’ll cut.” “The Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant is a dangerous nightmare, and I’ll get it repaired.”