Tom Suozzi, the former county executive and mayor of the city of Glen Cove, is back after a seven-year break from public office with his sights set on the Third Congressional District.
Citing the current political climate, the Democratic nominee said that the vast majority of voters are discouraged mainly because of the infighting that takes place in Washington, DC, and local government.
“Voters are discouraged, unhappy and pessimistic because we have been fighting about the same stuff in America for 30 years,” he said. “Why don’t things get fixed? They don’t get fixed because if you want to change the status quo, you have to accept the fact that someone is benefiting from the status quo. I have a proven history of fighting against the status quo. I have fought against very powerful forces, even my own party.”
Suozzi recalled starting the website, www.fixalbany.com, on which he said the Democrats in the Assembly and the Republicans in the Senate were both to blame for high-property taxes on Long Island, while also railing against the high cost of Medicaid, among other issues.
“In the case of the Fix Albany website, I was dis-invited to the Democratic National Convention by Sheldon Silver because he was the chairman of the New York delegation, said Suozzi, adding that there are three imperatives to changing the status quo. “First, you need an answer. ‘What are you going to change it to?’ Second, you need the guts to fight because when you want to change things, they are going to try to squash you like a bug and make you into a caricature. And, most important, you need the ability to win the fight through navigating politics, bureaucracy and through building coalitions.”
Suozzi said his first step in building a coalition is to recruit like-minded Democrats and Republicans for a “band of doers,” where people of goodwill will work together to solve a litany of concerns. One of the chief concerns is how to make college affordable for parents sending their children to schools and for graduates as they are saddled with paying back astronomical loans.
“Right now, kids have loans with massive interest rates and they are not allowed to refinance. If they could refinance their loans, like we do with home mortgages or business loans, that would dramatically reduce people’s burden,” he said. “Second, community college should be free and available to more people. Then, we need to get public institutions, the state colleges, to be more affordable—but that is going to require money from the federal and state governments.”
During the campaign, Suozzi has held more than 20 individual town-hall meetings, where residents of various communities could gather and ask questions. Suozzi said chief on the minds of residents is security—national, job and income—and the security of democracy. Meanwhile, property taxes are always on the mind of Long Islanders, he said.
“Right now, we send tens of billions of dollars to the federal government more than we get back in aid,” he said. “This is because in the 1940s through the 1960s, we had to help our poor brothers and sisters in South Carolina and North Carolina and Florida because we’re the strong industrial states. The world has changed dramatically and those southern states are booming and we are subsidizing them.”
Should he win the election, Suozzi said his first 100 days would consist of tackling environmental issues and addressing the drug, alcohol and mental-health crisis. As for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), Suozzi said he believes “we should mend it, not end it,” and as for terrorist threats to the country, Suozzi said the key is to eliminate the country’s dependency on foreign oil.
“For 50 to 75 years, we’ve manipulated the entire Middle East. One day we’re for Democracy, another day we’re hanging around with a dictator,” he said. “We need to say we don’t need your oil anymore, we never wanted your land and we don’t want your money, we just want everybody to stop killing each other.”