The two candidates for county executive crisscrossed Nassau Saturday, visiting street fairs, house parties and walkathons as they appealed to voters for support in the Nov. 5 general election.
Republican County Executive Edward Mangano and his Democratic opponent, Thomas Suozzi, spent the day shaking hands, posing for photographs and delivering speeches in their political strongholds. The candidates did not cross paths, although their supporters exchanged words during a festival in Valley Stream.
Mangano, who defeated Suozzi, the incumbent, in 2009, joined more than 1,500 participants at the annual Brain Aneurysm Awareness Walk at Jones Beach State Park. "These types of events remind us of the serious struggles in life and how important it is to provide hope and support," said Mangano, who nearly lost a close friend and a cousin to a brain aneurysm.
Along with a team of county officials, he later visited the annual Merrick Street Fair, where he chatted with area veterans, perused a local chocolatier and dined on eggplant pizza.
Theresa Marotta, of Merrick, said she recently complained to Mangano's office about a broken crosswalk signal button at Sunrise Highway and Merrick Avenue and it was fixed within hours, earning him her vote.
"He is real effective," she said. "He got the job done right away."
Suozzi, meanwhile, rode a horse in the African American Heritage Parade in Roosevelt and sang a gravelly version of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" at a house party in Wantagh.
At the Valley Stream community festival, he urged residents to "keep me in mind in November. We need your help."
Yves Paris, of Valley Stream, said Suozzi, a former two-term county executive, had her vote. "He did a good job last time," Paris said. "And, I think he'll do a good job again."
Suozzi was also confronted by a heckler who identified himself only as a county employee and Republican staffer. The heckler, filming video on his smartphone, criticized Suozzi for raising his salary by $65,000 in 2007.
Suozzi responded that the salary increase was recommended by a bipartisan legislative task force and that Mangano, nearly four years into his term, was still accepting the same increased salary. Suozzi's supporters loudly chanted his name as he departed the scene.