Island Vote: County Executive Steve Bellone challenged in run for 3rd term

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Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone says he deserves a third term because of his improvements to the county’s deficit, but his opponents say he’s actually done little to help.

On election night in 2011, Bellone – who was the Babylon town supervisor - was first elected county executive. He says the day he took office, Suffolk had a $500 million deficit. He says the deficit is gone because of restructuring efforts.

“We actually streamlined county government with 1,300 fewer positions. That saved taxpayers over a $100 million a year. And every single one of the cost-cutting measures John Kennedy voted against and still hasn't said to the public what he'd cut,” says Bellone.

However, County Comptroller John Kennedy says Suffolk is still hundreds of millions of dollars in debt. He says he would cut money to contract agencies and reduce overtime costs. He says under Bellone's watch, the county's bonds have been downgraded seven times. And, he points out, Suffolk was recently named the most fiscally stressed county in New York by the state Comptroller’s Office.

Libertarian candidate Greg Fischer is also on the ballot. “My background is business and strategy, finance and economics, and of course, that's the great challenge we're facing,” he says.

As for Bellone, he says he's accomplished a lot in office. “We've built hundreds of units of new affordable housing and built out our downtowns. We've led the state in the water quality crisis which is a critical issue for us,” he says.

But Kennedy argues Suffolk is going down a dangerous financial path and wants to convince voters that after eight years, it's time for a change. He says, “What Albert Einstein said -- doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity. In John Kennedy, they're going to get somebody who's going to work on their behalf, who's going to be mindful of what's happening with the fiscal distress.”

If Bellone wins, it will be his final four years in office under Suffolk's term limits law. If Kennedy wins, a special election would be held to choose the person to serve out the remainder of the term for county comptroller.

 

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