Calling the Tune
After descending the Dennison Building, Bellone was driving his Ford SUV last Saturday afternoon and talking about the county executive race. He’d begun the morning at an event in Wyandanch, where the seeds of the civic renewal project Wyandanch Rising are beginning to bear fruit. Now he was headed to a house party in Moriches to meet about two dozen supporters. It would be small potatoes compared to going down a 12-story building.
“I get along well with Angie Carpenter,” he told the Press. “In fact when I was going on my honeymoon, she recommended some places in Italy for me and [my wife] Tracy to go… She’s a wonderful person, and I think she’s been an effective elected official.
“Both of us understand the problems we’re facing in the county,” Bellone continued. “My case will be that I’m in the best position to address these challenges because I’ve been an executive for 10 years. I have a proven record of success running a large government and I think that’s important.”
He scoffed at the Republicans’ trying to crown him “Big Tax Bellone,” citing that he’s been re-elected with 73 percent of the vote. But he does understand the GOP mindset, he said, adding that his mother is a lifelong Republican.
“I think she’ll vote for me but I’m not taking it for granted,” he laughed.
As for Babylon’s rising tax bill, Bellone explained, “The average resident is paying…about $140 more today than they were paying 10 years ago, but we’ve reduced our debt burden by about 20 percent during the same time.”
He said he believes that what upsets people “is the sense that their tax dollars are being wasted…. They want to know that when they pay their tax bill, the money is being put to good use to improve the lives of their families and their communities…What the people of Babylon have understood that under my administration their tax dollars are well spent. The investments being made are not only helping them and their families today but helping to lay a foundation for a strong future down the line. That’s what’s important, and that’s not what we have in the county today.”
Bellone took the current county executive to task for his “hyper-focus on the general fund property tax, which is the same thing you saw in Nassau County in the ’90s,” adding that it’s the notion of Levy’s telling voters that “we haven’t increased the general fund property tax when the reality is that the…county is being driven into a ditch!”
On his first day in office as county executive he’d make two speeches: one to the police department, the other to the health department. He’d tell the cops to fight the gangs and stop the violence plaguing too many communities.
“A resident in North Bellport told me that he wears a bulletproof vest when he goes out to work on his house,” Bellone exclaimed. “That’s in Suffolk County!”
The county health department is demoralized and moribund, he continued, and he’d take a fresh approach.
“Instead of figuring out how we can delay things and stop things,” Bellone added, “we’re going to say, ‘How can we make this project happen?’ What people will find out about me if I am county executive is that I don’t just deliver a speech and go away.”