In the race for the county comptroller’s seat, Democrat Howard Weitzman is challenging incumbent Republican George Maragos — the opposite of the race four years ago.
Weitzman served as comptroller from 2002 to 2009 when he was defeated by Maragos. During the six months leading up to the vote, Weitzman was hospitalized with a blood disorder and was unable to campaign.
“I’m running because I’m very proud of what I was able to accomplish for the eight years I was in office,” Weitzman said. “And in the three and a half intervening years, I’ve seen the Comptroller’s office totally discredited and politicized. And I know what a force it can be for good in Nassau County and I want to return it to that.”
Maragos is running for his second term as comptroller.
“I think we’ve gone a long way to stabilizing the county finances and in protecting the taxpayers from property tax increases,” he said. “We have improved the Nassau County economy, reduced the unemployment rate to one of the lowest — it’s been at 5.9 percent. But we have a lot of work remaining to further streamline government, eliminate a lot of the waste that we still have in government by streamlining some of the departments and the management processes that are in place.”
Given that both candidates have experience in the position they’re running for, the race has evolved somewhat differently than most. Weitzman has made claims against the politicization of the office, saying that Maragos fired the lawyers and accountants that Weitzman staffed the comptroller’s office with and replaced them with patronage positions.
One of the biggest points of contention in the race were claims that Weitzman made against the comptroller’s office. He filed a claim with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) saying that Maragos had “cooked the books” and that the financial reports that the county has presented to the public have been disingenuous and a misleading representation of the county’s finances.
Maragos said that Weitzman’s claims were “categorically false.” Not only were they libelous, Maragos said, but Weitzman’s claims could be damaging to the county by harming its ability to borrow.