County executive race heats up
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Suozzi lost to Mangano by 386 votes in 2009 in a race that took several weeks to decide. Suozzi said he believes that the outcome could be different this time. “I didn’t work hard enough in 2009. I took it for granted,” he said, adding the he felt comfortable with his lead in the polls. “I thought I had no problem to win the race.”
It was after he was out of office when Suozzi realized how much he missed the job, he said. Suozzi notes that in the past he has had aspirations for higher office — he unsuccessfully challenged Eliot Spitzer for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2006 — but said now he would be content if he never makes it any higher. “If it turns out that my life is that I was the county executive of Nassau County who helped to turn around the county, that’s a pretty big accomplishment and I’m satisfied with that,” he said.
Since leaving office, Suozzi, of Glen Cove, has spent time working for Cablevision to help launch MSG Varsity, worked for a financial company to push public-private partnerships, and currently is with the Harris Beach law firm. He has also been spending more time with his wife and children.
Haber said that Suozzi had his eight years to try and right the ship in Nassau County. He said that while Suozzi and Mangano are both nice people, they are not innovators.
Meanwhile, Haber said that as a school board member in Roslyn, he has led an effort to refinance the school district’s debt to save money and created a partnership with neighboring districts to provide more efficient transportation for students attending private schools.
Suozzi said he did try innovative ideas when he was county executive, most notably trying to create “cool downtowns” in Nassau. He pushed for development around transit hubs, specifically to attract young professionals. Suozzi said that several of these projects are under way in Suffolk County. “Nobody’s even talking about it here,” he said.
Haber said he dislikes the cuts that have been made to social services in the county. One of the main functions of government, he explained, should be helping people who can’t help themselves. He also says that the current administration’s solution to the county’s financial problems is to borrow more money.