March 6, 2013 | 5276 views
County executive race heats up
Suozzi, Haber vie for Democratic nod
Election Day is still eight months away, but the race for Nassau County Executive has already begun to heat up. Two Democratic candidates — one who is quite familiar to the county political scene — have emerged to seek the party’s nod to challenge Republican incumbent Ed Mangano in November.
Former County Executive Tom Suozzi, who held the job from 2002-09, and Roslyn school board member Adam Haber have both announced their desire to win Nassau’s top job and likely will face off in a Democratic Party primary in September.
Suozzi said that a few months ago, many people in and out of Nassau’s political circles started encouraging him to run. It took a little convincing, he admits, but he finally decided to launch a campaign. Suozzi said he is fed up with the current county government. “Nassau County’s a wreck,” he said. “I’ve seen it decline more and more over the last three years.”
The first sign of trouble, Suozzi said, was when a state control board, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, began its oversight of the county’s finances. Suozzi pointed out that NIFA was in place during his eight years as executive, but never had to step in. “They never came close to taking over because we had eight balanced budgets, eight surpluses, 13 bond upgrades,” he said.
Haber described himself as an “outsider” to Nassau County politics and said he believes his success in running businesses would be an asset if he were elected. The East Hills resident and father of two owns two restaurants, one in Mineola and one in Manhattan. He said he has experience creating jobs.
Nassau County is in dire financial straits, Haber said, and neither raising taxes nor getting more concessions from the unions can fix those problems. Instead, Nassau County needs to increase its tax base by attracting more businesses, Haber explained. “You have to make this place an economic engine,” he said. “That’s the only way out.”
Haber described himself as a hard-worker and said he plans to make that fact evident to voters in the coming months. He said he has been pondering a run for county executive for nearly two years, and has attended the Legislature’s meetings on a regular basis since 2011.