Democratic Nassau County executive candidate Thomas Suozzi courted minority voters on Wednesday, pledging to invest more in social services, help homeowners who are underwater with their mortgages and restore staffing to the Fifth Precinct in Elmont.
At a news conference at MLK Memorial Peace Park in Uniondale, Suozzi said minority communities have been neglected by Republican County Executive Edward Mangano, his opponent in the November election. Suozzi cited cuts to county youth programs and the downgrading of three precincts to lower-staffed community policing centers.
Suozzi, a former two-term county executive who lost to Mangano in 2009, said he would focus on issues including business development, gun control and reducing prison recidivism among young minorities.
"We are going to focus on these issues in ways we have never done before," Suozzi said. "We are going to focus on lifting up this community."
Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said Suozzi had neglected minority neighborhoods.
"Over eight years, Tom Suozzi raised taxes, crime increased and jobs were lost," Nevin said. He said some minority communities "faced high crime and received little attention from Nassau County as parks and roadways crumbled."
Suozzi's law enforcement agenda includes creating an oversight board at the Nassau Corrections Center, removing Immigration Customs Enforcement officials from the jail and restoring staffing at the Fifth Precinct, which Mangano consolidated with the Hewlett-based Fourth Precinct in an effort to save money.
Suozzi said he would not restore staffing to the Eighth Precinct in Levittown, which was merged with the Second Precinct in Woodbury, or the Sixth Precinct in Manhasset, which was combined with the Third Precinct in Williston Park.
Suozzi also said he would bring county social services agencies into school districts to assist students in need, invest in downtown redevelopment and hire more minorities to serve in his administration.
A man who called himself a representative of former Freeport Mayor Andrew Hardwick, who is waging a third-party campaign for county executive, showed up at Suozzi's rally and distributed material to motorists in passing cars.