By Patrick Donachie
Standing behind a counter full of baked goods with a tray of cannolis close at hand, City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) endorsed former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi in the Democratic primary for the congressional seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-New York).
Vallone called Suozzi a candidate who could get northeast Queens “a seat at the table,” and could help bring needed resources back from Washington to the district.
“We proudly endorse someone who has been our friend for many, many years,” Vallone said while standing alongside Suozzi behind the counter of the Cascano Bakery in Whitestone.
Israel’s 3rd Congressional District stretches from Suffolk through Nassau counties and incorporates a small part of northeast Queens, including Oakland Gardens, Little Neck and Whitestone.
The two were joined by James Lisa, the president of the New York Italian-American Political Action Committee, who was on hand to endorse Suozzi on behalf of the group.
“Most ethnic groups have a big voice; the Italian-American community doesn’t,” Lisa said, noting that there was still significant discrimination toward the Italian community.
Suozzi said he was proud to accept the endorsements as a first-generation Italian and remarked that he wanted to be known as the “Queens candidate” for the election.
“We are a huge net donor to the federal government,” Suozzi said, referring to federal tax revenue generated by northeastern Queens. “We give more than we get back.”
In addition to a four-year stint as Nassau’s county executive from 2005-2009, Suozzi also ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2009 in the Democratic primary against Eliot Spitzer.
Israel announced he would not seek re-election to Congress in January, and Suozzi announced his intent to seek the seat in early March. His Democratic opponents include North Hempstead Town Councilwoman Anna Kaplan, former North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman, Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern and Jonathan Clarke.
The primary election is scheduled for June 28.
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona