Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano was sworn in for his second term Thursday, promising to hold the line on property taxes, work to redevelop Nassau Coliseum and bring more private-sector jobs to the county.
Addressing a standing-room-only audience at Bethpage High School, where he graduated in 1980, Mangano took the oath of office on an iPad with the Bible pulled up when a printed copy could not be located.
Mangano, a Republican who defeated Democrat Thomas Suozzi by 18 percentage points in November, recalled his rise to the county's highest office.
"From a janitor to county executive -- who could have imagined," said Mangano, who worked as a janitor at night while studying at Hofstra University. "Wow. America and especially Nassau County, is the best place on Earth."
Mangano said the next four years would be "full of challenges and opportunities" including the redevelopment of the Nassau Coliseum, transforming the shuttered Social Services building in Garden City into a new Family Court, and construction of a new crime lab.
The nearly three-hour ceremony attracted numerous current and former elected officials who praised Mangano for holding the line on property taxes, attracting new businesses to the region and helping Nassau recover from superstorm Sandy.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat who endorsed Suozzi in the county executive race, called Mangano a "superb county executive" who demonstrated "extraordinary" leadership after Sandy.
The Long Island Power Authority, he said, no longer is running Long Island's electrical grid, in part because of Mangano's persistent complaints about the utility's service in the storm's aftermath.
"I have no doubt that when we look back four years from today, we will say Nassau is a better county, a stronger county, a safer county, a richer county because of the leadership of Ed Mangano," Cuomo said.
Former GOP Sen. Alfonse D'Amato said Mangano, who was first elected in 2009, made politically difficult decisions, including repealing a home energy tax and privatizing the county bus system, and voters rewarded him.
"It's rare to find an elected official who puts people ahead of politics," D'Amato said. "But over the past four years that's exactly what Ed Mangano has done."
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who beat D'Amato in 1998, called Mangano a "good man, a caring man and a man who just gets the job done."
Senate co-Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) said Mangano "kept his word" by refusing to raise property taxes to balance the county's budget.
In his speech, Mangano thanked former Police Commissioner Thomas Dale for reducing crime and overseeing the consolidation of six precincts into three. Mangano forced Dale's resignation last month after an investigation found Dale directed the arrest of a witness in a politically charged court case. Among those onstage with Mangano was Gary Melius, owner of the Oheka Castle catering hall and a central figure in the controversy.Melius told Dale that former Freeport Mayor Andrew Hardwick, who was attempting to wage a third-party run for county executive, wanted to file perjury charges against Randy White, a witness in a lawsuit challenging many Hardwick ballot petition signatures.
Police never charged White with perjury, but when a misdemeanor warrant for White was discovered, Dale ordered that he be arrested, according to a report by Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice.
Mangano also lauded Jon Kaiman, the new chairman of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, a state monitoring board in control of the county's finances, for "instilling a collegiate, cooperative approach to addressing two decades of poor fiscal policies."
Kaiman, who was on stage with Mangano Thursday, was criticized in a letter last week by outgoing NIFA board member George Marlin for participating in a December negotiating session with lawyers from the Police Benevolent Association regarding a new labor contract. Kaiman said his meetings with the PBA were intended to "facilitate a discussion" on the labor deal.
Marlin also claimed Kaiman went on a "foul-mouthed" tirade against NIFA staff during a December meeting. Kaiman declined to address the claim but said his conversations with NIFA staff have been "high-end and professional."