The candidates for Nassau County executive offered contrasting visions about the county's direction Sunday, in the wake of a poll that showed residents gloomy about the county's future.
Democrat Tom Suozzi, appearing at the North Shore Synagogue in Syosset, said the county is "in decline," with police cuts, parks and roads eroding and young people moving away.
Republican incumbent Edward Mangano, who did not attend the breakfast, met instead with Jewish leaders at a Woodmere prayer event. But in a phone interview Sunday, he cast the county's future optimistically.
"I believe it's headed in the right direction," Mangano said. "The fiscal and economic policies of our administration have led to job growth."
The Newsday/News 12/ Siena College poll found 52 percent believe Nassau is headed in the wrong direction, while just 37 percent believe it's on the "right track." The poll also gave Mangano a commanding lead. But Suozzi dismissed the showing that he was trailing by 17 points, 52 to 35 with less than a month to go until the election.
He said the campaign's internal polls showed them in a "dead even race."
Mangano said the poll results echoed what he was hearing on the campaign trail.
"We're thrilled with the poll results," Mangano said. "We believe it reflects what residents are advising us as we meet them in our campaign. Clearly they're pleased with our accomplishments."
Suozzi blamed Mangano for rising property taxes for most Nassau homeowners.
"I'm the fiscal conservative in the race," Suozzi said at the event, which was attended by about 75 residents.
Suozzi said that a "wrecked assessment system" had led to increased property taxes for homeowners who don't file a formal grievance about their property tax assessment. School property taxes on Mangano's own house had gone up $2,800 over the past two years, Suozzi said.
Mangano said that Suozzi "has based his campaign on lies and distortions." He was happy, he said, to put up his tenure over the past four years against Suozzi's, whom he beat in 2009 by 386 votes.
Suozzi said Nassau's young people are fleeing and "the place is in decline."