Tom Suozzi was the first Democrat to win Nassau County's top job in decades. Then four years ago, Republican Ed Mangano unseated him in a close election. Now Suozzi is trying to get his old job back.
In one of his ads, current County Executive Ed Mangano holds a broom. He says he swept away the home energy tax and beat back a hike on property taxes.
"You elected me to clean up this mess," he says.
But opponent Tom Suozzi says Mangano is the one who created a financial mess. In his ad, he also has a prop. A chair.
"Property tax bills come in this month, and you need to sit down for this," he says. "For the second year school taxes are way up because Ed Mangano mismanaged the assessment process."
Suozzi, a Democrat, was County Executive for eight years. When he took office, the county had been on the brink of bankruptcy and bailed out by Albany. To balance budgets, he raised property taxes and passed the energy tax. Then Mangano unseated him with a pledge to reduce taxes, which he did. He says it worked.
"Nassau County has the lowest unemployment rate in the entire region," he said in an interview. "And the largest growth in sales tax revenue in the entire region." But Suozzi says Mangano has relied on heavy borrowing and skyrocketing fees. And two years ago, a financial control board took over, saying the budget was built on a foundation of sand.
"I started to turn Nassau County around, but now Ed Mangano's in office and he's back to the same sort of irresponsible tactics that are putting our county back under hard controls from a state control authority," he said.
It looks like, whoever wins, the prop they'll need most is a calculator.