Island Vote: Lukewarm voter response in Suffolk exec race

The race for Suffolk County executive is not getting the same high-profile reception among voters that it has received in the past elections.

Executive Steve Bellone is running for re-election against Republican candidate Jim O'Connor, who has had a hard time getting his message across. The former North Hempstead councilman badly trails Bellone in terms of campaign funds.

Bellone says he's helped stabilize Suffolk's finances by shrinking the size of county government over the past four years.

O'Connor says Bellone has used fiscal gimmicks to balance the budget. He says Suffolk's budget problems will worsen in the future, in part because of what he calls a sweetheart contract deal Bellone made with county police.

"What we need to do is control the out-of-control spending," O'Connor told News 12. "The only way to do that right now is to freeze wages and that's what I've proposed. It would cause hundreds of millions of dollars in savings."

Political consultant Mike Dawidziak says O'Connor is "a very qualified candidate to carry an anti-Bellone message" but recognizes the uphill battle he is waging.

"He's not going to get that message out without having at least the funds -- the minimal funds -- to get the message to voters," says Dawidziak.

Election Day is Nov. 3.

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