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Haber endorses Suozzi for Nassau County Exec

Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs, left, Adam

Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs, left, Adam Haber, middle, and Tom Suozzi raise hands during a press conference where Haber endorsed Suozzi in Mineola. (Sept. 17, 2013). Credit: Ed Betz

Businessman Adam Haber Tuesday endorsed his former political rival, Thomas Suozzi, in his bid to unseat Republican County Executive Edward Mangano and announced that he would not wage a third-party campaign on the Liberal line.

Haber, a Roslyn school board member, lost to Suozzi in the Sept. 10 Democratic primary by 5,780 votes, but earlier had received the Liberal Party nomination.

"I am doing what's right for the Democrats to unite," Haber said at a rally outside State Supreme Court in Mineola. "The Democrats must come together now. We must make sure the Republicans don't sneak through again."

The Democratic rivals met last week with party chairman Jay Jacobs to discuss issues Haber wanted addressed before he could endorse Suozzi.

Suozzi, a former two-term county executive who was defeated by Mangano in 2009, agreed to restore funding for youth programs within a year of taking office; create an oversight board at the Nassau Corrections Center; remove Immigration Customs Enforcement officials from the jail; permit community gardens on vacant lots; and host town-hall meetings in Hempstead, Lakeview, Roosevelt, Freeport, Uniondale and New Cassel.

Suozzi credited Haber with focusing on minority communities "that have been ignored for so long," and pledged to follow suit. Suozzi plans to unveil his agenda for minority communities at a news event Wednesday.

Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin called Haber's endorsement of Suozzi a "backroom deal between two tax-hiking politicians. . . . However, no endorsement can overcome the fact that Tom Suozzi hiked property taxes by 23 percent, placed a tax on home electricity and racked up the highest debt in our county's history."

Suozzi claims he cut the county's debt while in office and that Mangano has raised it to record levels.

Suozzi twice raised property taxes, by 19.4 percent in 2002 and 3.9 percent in 2009. The first increase was necessary to plug deficits that had developed under Republican County Executive Thomas Gulotta, Suozzi said, while the second was necessary to help the county through the recession.

A retired Wall Street trader from East Hills who largely financed his own campaign, Haber spent seven months attacking Suozzi's record as county executive from 2002-2009.

In television ads and mailings, Haber criticized Suozzi's management of the county's budget, his commitment to the environment and even his credentials as a Democrat.

In his most controversial ad, five "political hacks" are seated at an Italian restaurant, eating spaghetti, drinking red wine and conspiring to get Suozzi back into office. The ad, which accused Suozzi of misusing public money, was pulled after a strong backlash by Italian-American groups. Haber said he disagrees with Suozzi on a number of issues, but that he is more qualified than Mangano to lead Nassau for the next four years.

"He has done it before much better than Ed Mangano has," Haber said. "I believe in him that he is the guy and the right choice to lead Nassau County."

Haber turned down the Liberal nomination, arguing that a third-party run "would only siphon votes from Tom, and I am not going to be responsible for another four years of Ed Mangano."

County and state Liberal Party chairman Jack Olchin, who had previously endorsed Haber, said the party would now support Mangano.

"We feel Mr. Mangano should be afforded a second term to fully implement his programs and to correct the fiscal problems he inherited from Mr. Suozzi," said Olchin.

Mangano appointed Olchin in 2010 by Mangano as a member of his Assessment Review Commission, which reviews applications for property assessment corrections.Two other candidates have submitted petitions for independent candidacies in the Nov. 5 election. Former Freeport Mayor Andrew Hardwick is seeking to run on the We Count line, while Nolan Mann, who works at an East Rockaway antiques gallery, is seeking the Libertarian Party line.

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