Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani endorsed Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano's re-election bid at campaign events in Bethpage and Syosset on Thursday.
Mangano, a Republican who is running against former two-term Democratic county executive Thomas Suozzi, says he has not raised taxes since taking office in 2010, and Giuliani picked up the message.
"He's kept property taxes low and he hasn't done it on the backs of taxpayers," Giuliani said at a news conference in Bethpage in front of the county's Office of Emergency Management. "He's done it by reducing the size of government."
Mangano has cut the county's workforce by 20 percent, or about 1,000 jobs since taking office, according to county figures.
"I am a great admirer of how Ed Mangano has turned this county around," Giuliani said. Giuliani and Mangano later attended a $500-per-head fundraiser at Chris and Tony's, an Italian restaurant in Syosset.
"I am honored by the endorsement of 'America's Mayor.' . . . We're making progress and leading Nassau County to a much brighter future," Mangano told the group of about 100.
Suozzi's campaign contends that Mangano's property tax policies have increased the amount many taxpayers owe on their school property tax bill, by shifting the burden of tax payments from owners who successfully file for a tax assessment reduction to those who do not file a claim.
"There are endorsements and then there are facts," Suozzi campaign spokesman Jeff Guillot said. "The facts are that Ed Mangano has raised taxes 20 percent over the past two years by mismanaging the assessment system and racked up more debt than we have ever had."
Mangano maintains he has nothing to do with school taxes because they are set by districts.
State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and members of the Nassau County Fire Marshal Benevolent Association, a fraternal organization that has endorsed Mangano, also appeared at the news conference. Skelos quoted a line in Giuliani's autobiography, "Leadership," that 'the easiest thing to do and the most cowardly thing to do is raise taxes.' . . . I know Ed Mangano has taken that to heart."
Also Thursday, the Nassau Police Benevolent Association, the county's largest police union, said it would not endorse a candidate in the county executive race, citing the ongoing contractual negotiations to end a wage freeze imposed by a state financial control board.
The PBA and other county unions are negotiating with Mangano and the Nassau Interim Finance Authority over new labor contracts. "Our primary focus is to have our wages and steps reinstated," said PBA president James Carver.
Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin declined to comment on the PBA decision. Suozzi said he was still "seeking the support of police officers who may be concerned about NIFA's control of the county's finances and the dangerous reductions to the force." The union, Carver said, would not be able to back Mangano after he downsized three police precincts and tried to pass a bill allowing him to alter closed union contracts.
Suozzi, in his last year in office in 2009, threatened to lay off 870 county employees, including 250 police officers, if unions did not agree to a 7 percent pay cut. The PBA stayed out of the race, which Mangano won by 386 votes.The PBA backed Suozzi in his initial run for county executive in 2001, but supported his Republican opponent, former Hempstead Town Supervisor Gregory Peterson, in 2005.
Last week, leaders of the Civil Service Employees Association, the Detectives Association Inc. and the Superior Officers Association also said they will not make endorsements in the race.
The Correction Officers Benevolent Association and the Nassau Community College Federation of Teachers have made endorsements, backing Suozzi.