The race between Democratic incumbent county Legis. Joseph Scannell and Republican challenger Christian Browne to represent the 5th District, which includes Baldwin and Rockville Centre, is considered to be the most competitive in Nassau this year.
Yet, the contest seems more of a referendum on County Executive Thomas Suozzi, a Democrat, and his two terms of managing Nassau.
Scannell, 47, of Baldwin, who is also running as the Independence and Working Families nominee, said he is proud of his decade on the legislature: "We held the line on taxes. . . . We reduced our workforce. . . . We've cut and consolidated departments."
But isn't that Suozzi's record?
"We're all a team," Scannell responded. "Every single idea that Tom has, has to be approved by the legislature, and we also have had ideas that are generated by us that he has approved."
Browne, 33, from Rockville Centre, who is also running as a Conservative, said, "I'm running because I think our taxes are too high and the county has been fiscally mismanaged. We're going to have to . . . get serious about running local government more like a business."
But isn't that Suozzi's responsibility?
"Scannell has been in the legislature for 10 years," Browne responded. "He's voted for every Suozzi budget. He voted this year to authorize $110 million in borrowing, for the energy tax, for the property tax increase last year and every tax increase."
Both candidates are natives of Long Island. Scannell, who graduated from St. John's University law school, worked 10 years as an assistant district attorney for Denis Dillon before resigning to run for office. He now represents city police officers at Civilian Complaint Review Board hearings. He is married with two children.
Browne moved to Rockville Centre from Freeport when he was 2. While attending Fordham University Law School at night, he worked for the administration of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and then as communications director of St. Francis College. After getting his law degree, he spent three years as a Manhattan prosecutor before joining a law firm on Long Island. He is married with one child.
Scannell said he has delivered projects - a new First Precinct building in Baldwin and restored ponds - and services, such as free mammography vans to the district. Browne said he wants to cut spending by downsizing pension benefits, health benefits and social services that people want but the county cannot afford without higher taxes. "We simply cannot pay for the obligations that we've placed upon ourselves," Browne said.
Scannell accuses Browne of having a $38,000-a-year patronage job with benefits on the Republican-controlled Hempstead Town zoning board. Browne retorts that the board meets once a week - twice as often as the county legislature, where Scannell earns $39,500 with benefits.
Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 19,077 to 16,519 in the district.