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Long IslandPoliticsSpin Cycle

Suffolk County executive debate: Notable quotes from Steve Bellone, James O'Connor

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, right, faces off

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, right, faces off against his opponent, James O'Connor, at a debate at News 12 Long Island's studio in Woodbury on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Republican challenger James O’Connor debated live on News 12 Long Island from 7 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Newsday provided regular updates throughout the debate on Spin Cycle.

Bellone: "When I came into office four years ago, the county was facing the worst fiscal crisis in its history."

O'Connor: "Suffolk County has gone over a fiscal cliff."

On how to reduce taxes:

Bellone: “We’ve streamlined government ... On each
reform initiative, we’ve received significant pushback every step of the way.”

O'Connor: "It starts with a $400 million contract my opponent awarded to three police unions. If you don't address those, you're merely rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic and putting Band-Aid on a gaping wound."

O’Connor: "My opponent inherited a budget that cut positions."

Bellone: “The people he looks to join have tried to block those efficiencies."

Bellone: "We need to grow the economy. We have a plan called Connect Long Island ... We have to be able to move around without getting in a car every time."

O'Connor: "Jobs are not leaving Long Island because there aren't enough bike lanes on Nicolls Road."

Bellone: "The only thing of substance he’s said is put a fiscal control board in place. I understand he was an elected official in Nassau County. I don’t think importing ideas from Nassau is good policy. What would you do?"

O’Connor: "A fiscal control board would allow us to freeze salaries and save
hundreds of millions of dollars."

Bellone: "Nassau has had a fiscal control board for 16 years. These are crutches for politicians to avoid making tough decisions."

O'Connor on improving infrastructure: "Until we get fiscal house in order" it will be hard to do anything else.

Bellone on police salaries: "We have agreement that [police] salaries have gotten out of control. Disagreement on how we got there."

O'Connor: "You gave the police union a $400 million contract with a 28 percent raise, that the legislature's own budget review office says will make it extremely challenging to budget in 2017 and 2018."

On what to do about heroin addiction:

O’Connor: "I support cooperation between Suffolk County and federal authorities. We've seen a breakdown in cooperation that has hurt us."

Bellone: "We've worked with schools ... My deputy Tim Sini has worked with Sheriff
Vincent DeMarco on very promising programs at the jail."

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