Tom Suozzi campaigns on continued environmental protections amid endorsements
January 12, 2024
Publication: The Island 360
By: Cameryn Oakes
Tom Suozzi was in his Glen Cove home on a cold day late in December when he looked out his window and was taken aback by an unusual sight: a bald eagle.
At Sea Cliff Municipal Beach Thursday afternoon, Suozzi recounted the environmental growth as he explained his congressional campaign’s focus on continuing to protect the natural landscape amid endorsements by multiple environmental organizations.
“The environmental policies we implement today will be critical for our survival tomorrow,” Julie Tighe, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters Federal Fund, said. “And leadership matters.”
Suozzi, a Democrat, is facing off against Republican Nassau County District 10 Legislator Mazi Melesa Pilip in a Feb. 13 special election to finish out the term of Republican Rep. George Santos. Santos was expelled from Congress in December after he was found to have repeatedly lied to voters – later indicted on 21 federal charges and found to have committed numerous violations by the House Ethics Committee.
Environmental organization endorsements of Suozzi have included the New York League of Conservation Voters Federal Fund, as well as the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund, the NRDC Action Fund and the Sierra Club.
Suozzi, who presented the 3rd Congressional District for six years before seeking the Democratic nomination for governor in 2022, said that there are federal funds for infrastructure and the environment, and his goal is to deliver money from those funds to the people of District 3.
“‘We’re not getting enough infrastructure money back here to home,’” Suozzi recounted hearing from someone earlier that day. “I know how politics work. I know how government works. I’m a talker and arguer and I’m a doer and I know how to make things work in government… And I am going to fight to make sure we get that money here.”
He said that with recent storms that have hit Long Island, he thinks Hochul should declare a state of emergency to get funds to help areas hit hard.
With pressing environmental concerns, like major storms and wildfire smoke polluting the air, Suozzi said it is important to address these issues in the campaign.
Pilip released her campaign’s 10-point plan Wednesday – weeks after Suozzi’s – which outlines a focus on issues including tax relief, securing the border, supporting law enforcement, supporting Israel and reproductive rights.
Suozzi said Pilip, did not include the environment in her 10-point plan, represents the political party that denies climate change.
“I often say that clean air and clean water aren’t partisan issues,” Tighe said. “Everybody wants their kids to drink clean water and breathe air that isn’t going to give them asthma.”
Suozzi’s 10-point plan does include environmental protection measures, a difference from his opponent, but the Democratic candidate said Pilip’s plan lists similar campaign focuses to his.
He said he too promotes issues like supporting tax relief, securing the border, law enforcement, Israel and reproductive rights.
Where they differ, he said, are the depths of their plan – with Suozzi claiming to have more substance.
“The difference is I give detailed policy prescriptions as to what we need to do on each of these issues,” Suozzi said. “She refuses to tell us anything in detail and she refuses to debate or appear in public in front of the ladies and gentlemen of the media.”
He said in the wake of Santos, it is even more important that candidates are transparent in what they stand for.
“I will do that,” Suozzi said. “I will not just do the talk points of my party, just listen to the party bosses and just parrot things that don’t make any sense. I will try and talk about detailed policy prescriptions and I have a record of getting things done and we’ll try to do it again in the future.”
Many of the speakers representing environmental organizations endorsing Suozzi highlighted his track record in protecting the environment, spanning his entire political career.
This included a clean-up of the Superfund in Glen Cove while the city’s mayor and securing federal funds for water infrastructure on the Long Island Sound as the district’s congressman.
“Tom has always demonstrated strong leadership when it comes to the environment,” Tighe said.
Nassau County District 11 Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton said the people of New York’s 3rd Congressional District need someone with experience who will understand the processes to fight for their constituents, something she said Suozzi is capable of and his opponent is not.
Al Fredericks, a representative for the Sierra Club, echoed this sentiment and said that Suozzi’s knowledge and experience as a politician who has worked to protect the environment is no match against Pilip.
“The voters of District 3 can not afford to gamble once again on an inexperienced unproven candidate,” Fredericks said. “In short, the stakes are high and the challenges are great, but the Sierra Club is confident that Tom Suozzi is the candidate who will help us to meet these challenges.”