Thomas Suozzi

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Thomas Suozzi
Thomas Suozzi.jpg
County Executive of Nassau County
In office
January 1, 2002 – December 31, 2009
Preceded by Thomas Gulotta
Succeeded by Ed Mangano
Mayor of Glen Cove
In office
1992–2000
Preceded by Donald DeRiggi
Succeeded by Mary Ann Holzkamp
Personal details
Born Thomas R. Suozzi
(1962-08-31) August 31, 1962 (age 52)
Glen Cove, New York, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Helene Suozzi; 3 children
Religion Roman Catholic

Thomas R. Suozzi (born August 31, 1962) was the County Executive of Nassau County, New York, from 2002 to 2009. He was first elected to the post of county executive in 2001, the first Democratic county executive since Eugene Nickerson left office in 1971. In 2006, he ran unsuccessfully against Eliot Spitzer for the Democratic nomination for Governor of New York. Suozzi was narrowly defeated for re-election in 2009 by Republican nominee Ed Mangano, and in a rematch in 2013 was again defeated, this time by a much larger margin of 59% to 41%.

Early/personal life[edit]

The son of former Glen Cove mayor Joseph Suozzi, Tom Suozzi was born on August 31, 1962 in Glen Cove.[1] His father was born in Italy and his mother has Irish and English-born ancestors.[2] The youngest of five siblings, he graduated from Chaminade High School, Boston College, and Fordham University School of Law, all Roman Catholic schools.

Tom Suozzi and his wife, Helene, have three children.

Political life[edit]

Mayor of Glen Cove[edit]

In 1993, Suozzi was elected as the youngest Mayor of Glen Cove. He served in that capacity for four terms, ending in 2001. In 2001, Suozzi ran for County Executive. Democratic Party bosses long favored Assemblyman Thomas DiNapoli, but Suozzi prevailed in the primary and was elected to Nassau County Executive, the first Democrat in that office since Eugene Nickerson left it in 1971, and just the second Democrat in the post-World War II era. Suozzi was re-elected as County Executive in 2005, defeating his Republican rival, Greg Peterson, 59%-38% on November 8, 2005.[citation needed]

Suozzi's father and uncle, Joseph and Vincent Suozzi, respectively, were mayors of Glen Cove prior to Tom Suozzi. Tom's cousin, Ralph, is the former mayor of Glen Cove. Joseph Suozzi also ran for Nassau County Executive in 1958.[citation needed]

Nassau County Executive[edit]

Suozzi first became County Executive at a time when the county was near bankruptcy, being elected by a 2-to-1 margin in a County with more registered Republicans than any county in New York State. He helped engineer the Democratic takeover of the Nassau County legislature from the once vaunted "Republican machine". His coattails were credited with helping the Democrats keep the Nassau County Legislature (by one vote) as well as helping Democrat Kathleen Rice dislodge long-term Repuiblican Denis Dillon as Nassau County's District Attorney by about 8,000 votes.[citation needed]

Suozzi reportedly eliminated wasteful contracts, cut the workforce to the smallest in 30 years, and achieved historic labor concessions. He platformed for a "Fix Albany" campaign, blaming many of Nassau County's problems on the state legislature (which meets in Albany). His criticisms included both Republicans and Democrats in the state legislature, even advocating for the defeat of incumbent legislators. This caused him to be left out of the New York delegation to the 2004 Democratic National Convention which nominated Senator John Kerry for President, although the Democratic speaker of the New York State Assembly has denied that was the reason. "Fix Albany" led to the defeat of at least one incumbent Democratic state Assemblyman in the party primary, and provided a platform for David Valesky to unseat veteran Republican incumbent State Senator Nancy Larraine Hoffmann (a former Democrat) for a Syracuse-area seat in the State Senate.[citation needed]

In the November 2005 issue of Governing Magazine, Suozzi was named one of their "Public Officials of the Year" for his innovative initiatives in Nassau, which has a population of over 1.3 million, larger than 7 states and a $2.5 billion budget, greater than 16 states.[3] A Democrat and a Roman Catholic, in 2005, he is pro-choice. Although no longer named in the suit Suozzi's name has come up frequently in a civil suit involving violations of the First and Fourteenth amendments in which the claimant is seeking a multi-million dollar settlement.[4]

Gubernatorial campaign[edit]

He declared that he was running for Governor of New York in the Democratic primary against Eliot Spitzer on February 25, 2006. The bid appeared from the start to be somewhat of a long shot given Spitzer's reputation as a "corporate crusader", though Suozzi often pointed out that he prevailed as a long shot before when he first ran for Nassau County Executive. Few prominent Democrats outside of Nassau County Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs supported his bid; most of New York's Democratic legislators and mayors campaigned with Spitzer. One of his biggest supporters was Victor Rodriguez, founder of the now disbanded Voter Rights Party. Rodriguez eventually became the lead field organizer for the Albany campaign office. The campaign was funded largely by big business, in the form of Home Depot co-founder Kenneth Langone, former NYSE CEO Richard Grasso, David Mack of the MTA, and many individuals on Wall Street who had been investigated and prosecuted by Eliot Spitzer.[5]

On June 13, 2006 Suozzi spoke before the New York State Conference of Mayors along with Eliot Spitzer and John Faso. Suozzi received a standing ovation by the crowd of Mayors.[6] On July 6, 2006, Suozzi announced to his followers that he had collected enough petitions to place himself on the ballot in the primary against Spitzer. It was reported in all New York media on July 17 that his campaign manager Kim Devlin had stepped down and was replaced by Paul Rivera. He claimed victory to the press in the debate on July 25, 2006 with New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer held at Pace University.[citation needed] He stated he had presidential aspirations during the course of this debate. As the first question in the yes/no lightning round, moderator Dominick Carter of NY1 first asked Spitzer if he had plans to run for president and Spitzer said "No" whereupon Suozzi jumped immediately and emphatically and clearly enunciated, "Yes." Spitzer then turned his head slightly toward Suozzi and said "good luck, Tom" in an arguably sarcastic tone.[7]

On August 7, 2006, Suozzi announced after much speculation that he would not seek an independent line were he to lose the primary to Spitzer.[8] He also stated, that if he lost the governor's race, he would not run for a third term as Nassau County Executive.[9] In the week of August 25 he and Attorney General Spitzer were at Pace University again when cable TV NY1 held a town hall forum. However, they did not appear together. On September 12, 2006, Suozzi was defeated by Spitzer, receiving 19% of the vote to Spitzer's 81%.[citation needed]

New York State Commission on Property Tax Relief[edit]

In January 2008, Suozzi was named chairman of the New York State Commission on Property Tax Relief by then-Governor Eliot Spitzer. The bipartisan commission was tasked with "examining the causes of high property taxes, identifying ways to make the State’s property tax system fairer. Following the release of the Commission’s preliminary report, Governor Paterson accepted the Commission’s main recommendation and introduced legislation that would cap school property taxes at 4%. The State Senate approved the Governor’s legislation in August.[citation needed]

NIFA Report May 28, 2009[edit]

Nassau County Interim Finance Authority (NIFA) is a bipartisan, independent state financial oversight agency. NIFA criticized Tom Suozzi for his handling of Nassau County's Finances. The report titled "Review of the May 1, 2009 Nassau County Multi-Year Financial Plan Update and Related Matters." was the inspiration for an article in the Long Island Press.

According to NIFA's report, Suozzi had prepared a 2009 budget that did not address the current budget gap, nor did the Multi-Year Financial Plan address a continuing baseline gap in the Out-Years. The Plan assumed optimistic rates of recovery and growth despite the ongoing crises affecting the nation and high levels of unemployment. The report also claims that Suozzi and the County have underestimated Nassau’s greater exposure to the economic downturn from Wall Street job losses, and have used $23 Million in bond proceeds and reserves to pay operating expenses. The report also noted the large amount of turnover in the county Office of Management and Budget, which has not helped Nassau's recovery and planning efforts. By deferring debt service payments and not paying off obligations in a timely manner, Suozzi and the County put taxpayers at risk. Suozzi reportedly planned for Nassau County to use $28 Million of bond proceeds to pay for Fiscal Year 2009's tax assessment grievance refunds. The county would receive $80 million over the next two years in non-recurring federal stimulus monies, which the county would use to subsidize the operating budget. This would reportedly create a "vacuum effect", [clarification needed] for which Nassau County taxpayers and ratepayers are responsible.[10]

Nassau County executive election, 2013[edit]

After first working in the private sector as an attorney, Suozzi announced that he would seek a rematch against Mangano in 2013.[11] He attacked Mangano for "presiding over a decline in the county," while also emphasizing that, while he was County Executive, Suozzi had eight years of balanced budgets and reduced crime.[12] Tom Suozzi lost this race in a landslide to Ed Mangano.

Electoral history[edit]

Nassau County Executive Race
Year Candidate Votes %
2009 Thomas Suozzi (D) 117,874 48%
Edward Mangano (R) 118,111 49%
Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Gulotta
County Executive of
Nassau County, NY

2001–2009
Succeeded by
Ed Mangano
Preceded by
Donald DeRiggi
Mayor of
Glen Cove, New York

1993–2000
Succeeded by
Mary Ann Holzkamp

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]