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O'Connor: Scale back red-light cameras in Suffolk

Republican Suffolk County Executive Candidate James O' Connor

Republican Suffolk County Executive Candidate James O' Connor speaks about red light cameras during a press conference at the Suffolk County Legislature in Riverhead on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015 as Suffolk County legislator Robert Trotta looks on. Credit: James Carbone

Republican lawmakers and county executive candidate James O'Connor Tuesday called on Suffolk to suspend or scale back its red-light camera program and called on Democrats to embrace campaign finance measures modeled on proposals that Nassau County is considering.

Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst) said Suffolk needs to pause the red-light camera program until concerns about its purpose are addressed. McCaffrey said many constituents view the cameras primarily as a way to raise revenue for the county, not as a safety measure.

O'Connor said he would put the cameras only at intersections where the county can prove safety is an issue.

"We need to be straightforward and honest with the residents," O'Connor said.

Gil Anderson, Suffolk public works commissioner, said the cameras are intended primarily to boost safety, and that traffic engineers determine their location.

A county report covering 2013 showed that right-angle crashes decreased at intersections with cameras, while rear-end accidents increased. The report for 2014 has not been released.

Also Tuesday, O'Connor and some Republican lawmakers called for the county's campaign finance laws to be toughened. Their proposals include capping political donations from companies that do business with the county and requiring prospective vendors to disclose their political contributions.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano has agreed to back a cap on vendors' political contributions along with other recommendations of an independent panel he created to examine Nassau's contracting process.

"Ethics shouldn't stop at the county line," said O'Connor, a former North Hempstead Town Board member who moved to Great River in 2004.

Justin Meyers, a spokesman for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, said, "Here in Suffolk, we don't need ethics lessons from a failed Nassau County politician."

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