Though it may seem short on glamour, the county comptroller’s position is an extremely important one. The comptroller is responsible for auditing county departments and making sure the county is spending its money — your tax dollars — appropriately.
The comptroller is a representative of the people, and should be an independent, nonpartisan voice. Most of all, the people need to be able to trust him or her. It’s for these reasons that the Herald endorses Howard Weitzman.
Weitzman, who was comptroller from 2001 to 2009, says he lost the election four years ago, to George Maragos, because he couldn’t campaign due to health problems. We agree — if Weitzman had been able to campaign (he’s healthy now), he would still be in office.
Throughout this campaign, Maragos has touted the fact that the county hasn’t raised taxes since he took office. That’s true, and it’s an admirable accomplishment. But Maragos had nothing to do with it. He has also bragged about the budgets that have been passed over the past four years. Again, those do not come from the comptroller’s office. Those are the accomplishments of the county executive.
During Maragos’s tenure, the county has seen numerous budget deficits and bond downgrades. And the fact that the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, the state control board that controls the county’s finances, disagrees with all of Maragos’s assessments of the county’s fiscal health gives us pause. The way he rubber-stamps nearly every proposal from County Executive Ed Mangano leads us to conclude that Maragos is not an independent voice, but a lock-step Republican, all too happy to fall in line.
Weitzman, had a proven record of managing Nassau County’s finances properly. The county’s bond rating was upgraded many times during his tenure. He also proved to be a voice of the people. Maragos lambastes Weitzman’s auditing of special districts, but it was the right thing to do, and saved taxpayers money.
We are convinced that whoever is elected county executive, Weitzman will be a fair and nonpartisan comptroller, giving equal scrutiny to any budget put before him. We encourage voters to give him their support next Tuesday.