Looking for the third way


Ed Mangano’s and Tom Suozzi’s campaigns for county executive are in full gear, with less than five weeks to go before Election Day. They’re trading jabs and accusations, criticizing each other’s performance in Nassau’s top job and proclaiming their own accomplishments.

This year we have rare circumstances for the election, because both candidates have been county executive, so voters can examine the performance of both men in the position they seek to keep or regain.

Mangano, the current executive, seeks a second four-year term. He extols the fact that the budget he just presented to the County Legislature is his fourth no-property-tax-increase financial plan. He has said that the county is on a “firm, stable path because of the tough and difficult choices we’ve made to cut spending and implement successful public-private partnerships.”

Mangano says he has cut the county’s work force by 20 percent since Suozzi left office in 2010. He says he has saved residents $40 million through his public-private partnerships on county bus service and the county jail’s inmate health care contracts. The new Coliseum development deal, approved by all 10 Republicans and all nine Democrats in the Legislature last week, will be a boon to revenue, and spirits, Mangano says.

Suozzi, who was county executive for two terms, from 2002 to 2009, wants the third term he was denied when he lost to Mangano in the 2009 election.

In a debate he had with his primary election foe, Adam Haber, Suozzi called the Coliseum plan “absurd” because it did not include a broader vision to develop the totality of the Hub area, like Islanders owner Charles Wang’s 2007 Lighthouse proposal, which Suozzi helped to sell, unsuccessfully.

Suozzi’s strongest criticism of Mangano’s administration is on the state of the county’s finances. “The place is falling apart,” the former county exec said on Aug. 3. “The taxes are too high — our young people are moving away. We have to wake up to the reality that what this administration is doing is making things worse.”

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