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Suozzi, Haber to meet in debate before primary

Left, Adam Haber, Democratic candidate for Nassau County

Left, Adam Haber, Democratic candidate for Nassau County executive, greets commuters in Great Neck. Right, candidate Thomas Suozzi. (April 25, 2013) Credit: Howard Schnapp

The two Democrats running for Nassau County executive have agreed to meet in a televised debate hosted by News 12 Long Island on Sept. 3, one week before the primary, their aides said Monday.

Adam Haber had been seeking a debate for months with Thomas Suozzi, who has largely ignored him on the campaign trail and focused his efforts against the Republican incumbent, Edward Mangano.

News 12 has scheduled the debate from 7:30 to 8 p.m.

Suozzi, seeking to reclaim the county executive post he lost four years ago, on Monday unveiled his second TV ad of the campaign season. It takes aim at Mangano's borrowing record and makes no mention of Haber, an East Hills businessman and Roslyn school board member.

In the new 30-second commercial, Suozzi sits in a classroom with children playing in the background and says: "Since they're the ones getting stuck with Ed Mangano's $2 billion in new borrowing, we asked if any kid in Nassau can count to two billion."

As different children rattle off numbers, Suozzi, who served as county executive for eight years before losing to Mangano in 2009, touts the 13 bond upgrades under his administration.

Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin disputed Suozzi's debt figure and said in an email statement: "Tom Suozzi's campaign of lies will not overcome the fact that he hiked property taxes by 23 percent."

At a news conference to unveil the ad in Uniondale Monday, Suozzi said that while he raised taxes under his last administration, he had no plans to do so if elected.

Haber's campaign spokesman, Galen Alexander, said Suozzi's strategy to focus solely on Mangano could backfire in the primary.

Both Suozzi and Mangano's campaigns have pointed to different reports to provide varying numbers for the amount of county debt acquired under each candidate. Suozzi's campaign says he left the county with $2.9 billion in debt and says Mangano has raised the county's debt to $3.5 billion.

Mangano's aides say some of Suozzi's figures include duplicate superstorm Sandy borrowing costs that will eventually be reimbursed by the federal government. They place the county's debt at $3.03 billion.

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