Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and challenger Thomas Suozzi took shots at each other in separate appearances Friday on a New York City radio program.
Mangano, a Republican, and Suozzi, a Democrat and former Nassau County executive, addressed issues including property taxes, the future of Nassau Coliseum and job creation on "The Brian Lehrer Show" on WNYC.
Lehrer gave each about eight minutes to discuss issues and answer his questions. Mangano and Suozzi were not on air at the same time.
Suozzi, who spoke first, said Mangano "screwed up" the county property assessment system. Suozzi said that has caused homeowners to have to pay more in school taxes, which make up the bulk of the tax bill.
Suozzi said Mangano created a system that shifted the tax burden from commercial to residential properties, and left homeowners who did not challenge their taxes paying too much of the tax load.
When Lehrer later asked Mangano about the issue, Mangano accused Suozzi of running "a campaign of lies and distortion" about the assessment system. Mangano said Nassau does not set school taxes, which are approved by residents of individual school districts. He also stressed that he has held the line on county property taxes for four years.
Mangano unseated Suozzi in 2009 by 386 votes, and Suozzi told Lehrer that the fatal flaw of that campaign was that he "didn't work hard enough." Suozzi said Mangano also capitalized on the anti-incumbent tea party movement.
Mangano said he has earned voters' trust by rebuilding Nassau's employment and sales tax revenues since the recession.
Mangano took after Suozzi over his unsuccessful campaign for governor in 2006, saying he tried to use his county position as a steppingstone.
"He used it to try to get to the governor's mansion, he failed and he sold out the taxpayers in his quest to do that," Mangano said.
Mangano made campaign stops in Nassau later in the day, including an appearance at the groundbreaking of a new First Precinct house in Baldwin. Suozzi made other radio and television appearances and visited senior citizen centers.