3rd Congressional District special election: Mazi Melesa Pilip does not have the needed skills
February 3, 2024
By: The Editorial Board
Mazi Melesa Pilip is seeking to ride a rocket of anger launched by the nation’s border mess all the way to Congress. But after the votes are counted and the teams of consultants, pollsters and image-makers depart, the tough job of representing the 770,000 residents of the Third Congressional District begins.
A complex skill set of government knowledge, political experience and access to power is needed to be an effective lawmaker on immigration, additional funding for Israel, and government spending during the extreme partisan divide in Washington right now.
Pilip is the wrong person for the job.
Pilip, a Nassau County legislator running on the Republican line, hasn’t done many detailed media interviews during this special election campaign to fill the remaining months of the ousted George Santos’ term. She did not make herself available for an endorsement interview with the editorial board, so our assessment of her political skills is based on having met with her during her 2021 and 2023 campaigns for the county legislature and closely monitoring her work as a legislator.
Born in a rural Ethiopian village, Pilip, 44, was airlifted with her family to Israel in an extraordinary military mission to provide save haven to an ancient sect of Jews living in an increasingly intolerant East African nation. Pilip later served in the Israeli Defense Forces as a gunsmith in a paratrooper division.
Her life experiences, she said, gave her special insight into the uproar over the murder of George Floyd and the need for public safety. Pilip told the editorial board in 2021 that discrimination against her and an incident her biracial son had on a Great Neck schoolyard shape her views.
“I know what being discriminated against” is about, she said. “I grew up in Ethiopia as a minority Jew . . . I moved to Israel when I was 12 years old. And we were also a minority, a Black person there . . . I went through this all my life.”
She advocates for a balance: Law enforcement must be well-funded and supported, but also educated on cultural differences. She suggested regular psychological assessments to identify officers undergoing stressful episodes that could affect their performance.
SHORT ON SOLUTIONS
But on the current issue powering her campaign, where her life experiences are also relevant, she is silent.
The National Republican Campaign Committee is spending millions in television ads to make the influx of migrants in New York City the primary cudgel to defeat her Democratic opponent, Thomas R. Suozzi. (Please read our detailed assessment of Suozzi’s candidacy here.) Yet, House Republicans are trying to thwart a bipartisan Senate bill that would help make the border more secure.
The urgent question for Pilip is how she would vote on the bill. And what are her positions on an overall revision of immigration rules?