County Executive-elect Edward Mangano has a full plate. The Bethpage Republican inherits a government with dwindling resources and a constituency angry about taxes. Here's 10 initiatives politicians, community leaders and activists suggested Mangano should undertake.
Deal with Property TaxesEveryone, it seems, wants property taxes cut. But with school taxes making up the bulk of the Nassau tax bill, Mangano will be limited in what he can do. "The property tax is the big thing," said Rener Reed, former president of the Lakeview NAACP. "I don't know how he will be able to address it, but let's hope and pray that he will attempt to find solutions."
Keep his PromisesMangano made repealing Nassau's unpopular 2.5 percent energy tax a centerpiece of his campaign. And with the legislature's Dec. 21 vote to eliminate the tax, Mangano can make removing it his first major act. "The worst thing he could do is not to follow through," said Lawrence Levy, executive director of Hofstra University's National Center for Suburban Studies. "Public cynicism is incredibly high and he needs to restore confidence in government."
Expand youth servicesMangano the candidate pledged to cut county government, but he should maintain and expand the county's youth services programs in minority communities, said the Rev. Reggie Tuggle of Memorial Presbyterian Church in Roosevelt. "When you have school districts that are already challenged and you don't have a positive alternative in developing spirit and hopes and dreams of students, that can lead to further bad associations down the road," he said.
Fix the Assessment SystemIt's a top complaint from politicians in both parties and the thousands of residents who challenge their assessments annually, but no one has a clear vision of how to fix it. "It's clear to the vast majority of residents of this county that there are terrible inequities in the assessment system," former County Executive Thomas Gulotta said. "People are being taxed far beyond their means."
Finish the Lighthouse ProjectCounty Executive Thomas Suozzi and Islanders owner Charles Wang have fought with Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray, a Republican, over the $3.7-billion development project. Now Mangano, who says he favors the project, has a chance to close the deal. "Working with the Republican administration in the Town of Hempstead, I'd think that should be priority one," said Jay Jacobs, Nassau's Democratic chairman.
Save the Last Open SpaceWith only 2,500 remaining open-space acres left in Nassau, Mangano and the legislature should submit a new bond act to voters to extend the environmental sales tax to preserve the land, said Richard Amper, executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society. "There are very, very few acres left of land to secure," Amper said. "For Nassau County, there's no tomorrow."
Reach out to LatinosMangano is a blank slate on immigration issues, said Nadia Marin-Molina, director of the Workplace Project in Hempstead. Marin-Molina said she'd like to see Mangano follow Suozzi's example of including Latino community leaders in county policy discussions, particularly on policing. "One of his first steps should be to meet with the Latino community and the immigrant community here and talk about what it is that he should do," she said.
Reach across the aisleMangano may have support from a GOP-controlled legislature, but he won by only 386 votes. Working with Democrats in what has long been a bitterly partisan legislature will help him succeed in the long run, said Christopher Hahn, Suozzi's chief deputy from 2005-07. "If he's successful in reaching across the aisle and getting support from both sides, his agenda will have a far better chance to succeed than if its being driven solely by the Republican Party," Hahn said.
Fix county buildings
Much of Nassau's infrastructure is in dire need of repair, said County Clerk Maureen O'Connell, particularly the county building at 240 Old Country Rd. in Garden City. "We've had broken-down public restrooms," she said. "We have doors that don't properly function. We just have a very deteriorated infrastructure."
Be County Executive PotholeWhile Suozzi regularly aimed for home runs, Mangano should employ a singles and doubles strategy, said Eric Alexander, the executive director of Vision Long Island. "He needs to speak about how the county's departments can actually aid towns and villages in making planning decisions," Alexander said. "It's a much more practical, substantive approach less on big visions and more about concrete accomplishments."