Thomas R. Suozzi (born August 31, 1962) is an American Democratic politician who is the U.S. Representative for New York's 3rd district.
He was the County Executive of Nassau County, New York, serving from 2002 to 2009. He was first elected to the post in 2001 after serving four terms as mayor of Glen Cove, New York. In 2006, he ran unsuccessfully against Eliot Spitzer for the Democratic nomination for Governor of New York. Suozzi was narrowly defeated for re-election in 2009 by Republican nominee Ed Mangano, and in a rematch in 2013 was again defeated, this time by a much larger margin of 59% to 41%.
Early and personal life
The son of former Glen Cove mayor Joseph A. Suozzi, Thomas Suozzi was born on August 31, 1962 in Glen Cove. His father, Joseph, was born in Italy and his mother, Marguerite, is of Irish and English descent. The youngest of five siblings, Tom Suozzi attended Catholic schools, graduating from Chaminade High School, Boston College, and Fordham University School of Law. Suozzi and his wife, Helene, have three children.
Mayor of Glen Cove
In 1993, Suozzi was elected mayor of Glen Cove, New York. He served in that capacity for four terms.
His father and his uncle, Vincent Suozzi, respectively, were mayors of Glen Cove prior to Tom Suozzi.
As mayor, Suozzi focused on environmental cleanup of commercial and industrial sites in Glen Cove. A focal point of his administration was redeveloping brownfield and superfund sites. In 1994, the Glen Cove incinerator was permanently closed and dismantled.
In 1998, the city demolished and redeveloped the defunct Li Tungsten Refinery grounds, a federal superfund site.
He was recognized by then-Vice President Al Gore for the city's environmental cleanup efforts and Glen Cove was awarded the Brownfields Award in 1998.
Nassau County Executive
Suozzi was elected Nassau County Executive in 2001, becoming the first Democrat elected to the position in traditionally Republican Nassau in 30 years. He assumed office in the midst of a fiscal crisis. By 1999, Nassau was on the brink of financial collapse: the county faced a $300 million annual deficit, was billions of dollars in debt, and its credit rating had sunk to one level above junk status. According to The New York Times, he "earned high marks from independent institutions for his signature achievement, the resuscitation of Nassau's finances."
While in office, Suozzi cut spending and reduced borrowing and debt. He also oversaw 11 county bond upgrades over the course of two years, eliminated deficits in Nassau, and accumulated surpluses. In 2005, Governing Magazine named Suozzi one of its Public Officials of the Year, calling him "the man who spearheaded Nassau County, New York's, remarkable turnaround from the brink of fiscal disaster." According to The New York Times, Suozzi garnered praise for social services like his “no wrong door” program, which centralized access to social services.
In 2004, Georgina Morgenstern, a former Nassau County planning department employee, alleged Suozzi and Chief Deputy County Executive Anthony Cancellieri used county employees, resources and functions for illegal fundraising. Morgenstern said she was retaliated against and terminated without due process, and she subsequently filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit. Suozzi was dismissed from the case and a federal jury in Central Islip rejected Morgenstern's claim that she was fired in retaliation for her criticism of Suozzi.
2006 gubernatorial campaign
Suozzi declared that he was running for Governor of New York in the Democratic primary against Eliot Spitzer on February 25, 2006. The bid appeared from the start to be somewhat of a long shot given Spitzer's reputation as a "corporate crusader", though Suozzi often pointed out that he prevailed as a long shot before when he first ran for Nassau County Executive.
Few prominent Democrats outside of Nassau County Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs supported his bid; most of New York's Democratic legislators and mayors campaigned with Spitzer. One of his biggest supporters was Victor Rodriguez, founder of the now disbanded Voter Rights Party. Rodriguez eventually became the lead field organizer for the Albany campaign office. The campaign was funded in part by Home Depot co-founder Kenneth Langone, former NYSE CEO Richard Grasso, David Mack of the MTA, and many individuals on Wall Street who had been investigated and prosecuted by Eliot Spitzer.
On June 13, 2006, Suozzi spoke before the New York State Conference of Mayors along with Spitzer and John Faso. Suozzi received a standing ovation by the crowd of mayors. On July 6, 2006, Suozzi announced to his followers that he had collected enough petitions to place himself on the ballot in the primary against Spitzer. He claimed victory to the press in the debate on July 25, 2006 with New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer held at Pace University. He stated he had presidential aspirations during the course of this debate.
On August 7, 2006, Suozzi announced after much speculation that he would not seek an independent line were he to lose the primary to Spitzer.
He stated, that if he lost the governor's race, he would not run for a third term as Nassau County Executive. In the week of August 25 he and Attorney General Spitzer were at Pace University again when cable TV NY1 held a town hall forum. However, they did not appear together. On September 12, 2006, Suozzi was defeated by Spitzer, receiving 19% of the vote to Spitzer's 81%.
NIFA Report May 28, 2009
Nassau County Interim Finance Authority (NIFA) is a bipartisan, independent state financial oversight agency. In 2009, NIFA published a report titled "Review of the May 1, 2009 Nassau County Multi-Year Financial Plan Update and Related Matters". According to NIFA's report, Suozzi had prepared a 2009 budget that did not address the current budget gap, nor did the Multi-Year Financial Plan address a continuing baseline gap in the Out-Years. The Plan assumed optimistic rates of recovery and growth despite the ongoing crises affecting the nation and high levels of unemployment. The report also claims that Suozzi and the County have underestimated Nassau’s greater exposure to the economic downturn from Wall Street job losses, and have used USD $23 million in bond proceeds and reserves to pay operating expenses. The report noted the large amount of turnover in the county Office of Management and Budget, which has not helped Nassau's recovery and planning efforts. By deferring debt service payments and not paying off obligations in a timely manner, Suozzi and the County put taxpayers at risk. Suozzi reportedly planned for Nassau County to use $28 Million of bond proceeds to pay for Fiscal Year 2009's tax assessment grievance refunds. The county would receive $80 million over the next two years in non-recurring federal stimulus monies, which the county would use to subsidize the operating budget.
2009 Nassau County executive election
Suozzi lost the 2009 county executive election to Edward Mangano by fewer than 300 votes.
2013 Nassau County executive election
After first working in the private sector as an attorney, Suozzi announced that he would seek a rematch against Mangano in 2013. He attacked Mangano for "presiding over a decline in the county", while also emphasizing that, while he was County Executive, Suozzi had eight years of balanced budgets and reduced crime. In November, Mangano easily defeated Suozzi, 59 percent to 41.
2016 U.S. House campaign
In June 2016, Suozzi won a five-way Democratic primary in New York's 3rd congressional district. Suozzi received endorsements from The New York Times, Newsday, and The Island Now. He defeated Republican Jack Martins in the general election on November 8, 2016, and will represent New York's 3rd congressional district in the 115th United States Congress beginning in January 2017.
|Nassau County Executive Race|
|2009||Thomas Suozzi (D)||117,874||48%|
|Edward Mangano (R)||118,111||49%|
|New York 3rd Congressional District Race|
|2016||Thomas Suozzi (D)||156,315||52.4%|
|Jack Martins (R)||142,023||47.6%|