The 3rd State Senate District candidates yesterday traded barbs in a televised debate, as Democratic hopeful Adrienne Esposito criticized Republican Tom Croci for raising taxes as Islip Town supervisor and Croci said a Democratic Senate would hurt Long Island.
In the debate, which aired last night on News 12 Long Island, Croci said Long Island was saddled with higher taxes and fees after Democrats took over the Senate in 2008.
"The last time we had one-party rule in the state of New York we had the MTA payroll tax," said Croci, of Sayville.
The Senate "turned a deaf ear to Long Island's needs," he said.
Esposito, who's unaffiliated with a political party and running on the Democratic, Working Families and Green Party lines, dismissed the idea that she'd bend to New York City Democrats.
"Anyone who knows me knows I don't crumble like a stale cookie," she said.
"Saying I would be someone who worked with New York City in lieu of fighting for Suffolk is ludicrous," she said.
The 3rd District race is one of a handful of competitive state contests on Long Island that will help determine control of the Senate. The GOP shares majority control with the five-member Independent Democratic Conference as well as a Brooklyn Democrat, who said he will sit with whichever party holds the majority.
Croci, a commander in the Navy Reserves who served a tour in Afghanistan last year, said Islip residents were willing to shoulder a 28 percent property tax increase in 2012 to preserve town services.
He said that without the money the town wouldn't have been able to respond effectively to superstorm Sandy. "They said, 'We're willing to pay just eight bucks more a month for vital services,' " he said of residents.
Esposito said Islip, with Croci at the helm, raised taxes again the next year by 11 percent. "I don't know too many people who wanted a 39 percent tax increase," said Esposito, executive director of the nonprofit environmental group Citizens Campaign for the Environment.
All debates will also be on Channel 612 & www.news12.com