News 12 hosts Suffolk County executive debate

Incumbent County Executive Steve Bellone, a Democrat, faces a challenge in the race from Republican James O'Connor.

Incumbent County Executive Steve Bellone, a Democrat, faces a challenge in the race from Republican James O'Connor. (10/22/15)

WOODBURY - The candidates running for Suffolk County executive squared off in a debate Thursday night live on News 12 Long Island.

Incumbent County Executive Steve Bellone, a Democrat, faces a challenge in the race from Republican James O'Connor.

A major topic in the debate was the issue of taxes. Bellone said he has saved the county and its residents millions of dollars.

"We streamlined government -- 1,100 fewer positions," Bellone said. "That's $100 million in annual savings to taxpayers. We closed the Foley nursing facility. That was costing taxpayers, unnecessarily, $10 million a year."

O'Connor contended that the county could find big savings by addressing police salaries. He said his plan involves freezing police raises granted by the Bellone administration, which he argued would lead to higher taxes.

Bellone is the eighth Suffolk County executive and has held the position since 2011. O'Connor worked as chief legal officer of the New York State Insurance Fund under former Gov. George Pataki.

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