In 1st CD: Zeldin Runs for Second Term Challenged by Throne-Holst

page 03_merchants halloween party full color page really.qxd.qxd• Story by Barbara LaMonica

When residents of the First Congressional District head to the polls November 8, they will be asked to choose between Republican/Conservative incumbent Congressman Lee Zeldin, and Democrat/Women’s Equality Party challenger Anna Throne-Holst.
Zeldin, a married father of nine-year-old twin girls, is a Major in the United States Army Reserves. Prior to election to Congress, Zeldin served in the New York State Senate from January 2011 through December 2014. He is wrapping up his inaugural term on Capitol Hill in anticipation of serving a second two-year term. Zeldin, who defeated six-term Democrat incumbent Tim Bishop two years ago, described his first term as “successfully getting important victories across the finish line.” Included on, but not limited to the list of “victories” is:
• Legislation that gives states the green light to opt-out of Common Core without fiscal penalties from the federal government
• Implementation of the Fire Island to Montauk Point Plan bolstering funding from $600 million to $1.16 billion to projects from the mainland to the barrier beach (project includes road raising on Riviera Drive in Mastic Beach for a several mile stretch)
• The Safe Bridges Act appropriates one-quarter of a billion dollars annually to state and local bridges, $26 million (or 80% deferral funding) of which is directed to revitalizing and widening Hospital Road Bridge in East Patchogue
• Multiple pieces of legislation to help veterans
• Legislation to open the waters along Great South Bay that allows for bass fishing
• Enactment of the Zadroga Act which provides for health care for 9/11 responders
• Legislation passed by the House and needs the Senate to pass which, if approved, would prevent the FAA from taking action against the Town of East Hampton for aircraft noise restrictions
Throne-Holst served two years on the Southampton Town Council prior to her election as Southampton Town Supervisor, a post she would hold for six years. She cites her “very strong environmental record” and “working for families, children and seniors to give access to opportunity” as some of the experience she would bring to Washington. A mother of four, Throne-Holst is working full-time on her congressional campaign.
Throne-Holst cites her “ability to reach across party lines” as being better suited to serve in Congress. “I’ve been in local government and have been pro-active working with, and for people,” she said. Throne-Holst continued, “I’ve reached across the aisle and party lines putting constituents and constituents’ needs first.”
If elected to Congress, Throne-Holst said she would work to make early childhood education and quality college education affordable and attainable to all, and she would work to protect medicare and social security.
Among the changes she would look to make that would impact constituents in the First Congressional District if elected include addressing affordable issues on Long Island. “We would have to change the tax code nationally to shift the burden from individuals,” she said, adding, “taxes are too high here, as are transportation costs and cost of living; affordable housing and mass transit are not what they need to be and,” she emphasized, “people have to have access to opportunity training.” On a national level, Throne-Holst said she would work to ensure the Affordable Care Act is affordable and accessible so all Americans can benefit. But, she admits, “There are lots of things that still need to be tweaked with health care.”
The candidates’ views on immigration reform are in comparatively stark contrast. “We need to create a pathway to citizenship and work out kinks on temporary visas so that these people can be productive members of society,” stated Throne-Holst. The challenger also supports the concept of an influx of Syrian refugees into the United States. “We have the most comprehensive, strict vetting system,” Throne-Holst stated. “Not so,” counters the Congressman. “She is either willfully or naively proving how unprepared she is to deal with the Syrian Refugee issue because they’ve been in a civil war several years, and there’s no documentation and no information on these people’s backgrounds for vetting purposes,” Zeldin pointed out. “If we let 100 people in and there’s just one terrorist (among them),” Zeldin emphatically underscored, “it can’t be allowed. The best humanitarian victory we can deliver is to eliminate the threat they face at home.” In contrast, Throne-Holst said, “We pride ourselves on being there for the needy and they fear for their lives. These are good, upstanding families.”
During the course of her campaign, Throne-Holst has disseminated news releases criticizing Zeldin for appearing on televised news interviews. Zeldin, however, maintains it is his job to be a voice for his constituents whenever possible. Asked whether she believes it is the job of an elected official to accept televised interviews, Throne-Holst stated: “Yes. It is part of the job, but let them (reporters), come to me. It’s different when you’re traveling out of the district and it’s become a weekly occurrence when he’s on FOX News,” Throne-Holst said. “It’s a question of time-management and the ability to get the job done in D.C.”
Zeldin steadfastly defends his position against Throne-Holst’s accusations: “It is important when an opportunity is presented to advocate on issues that the First Congressional District’s residents are passionate about, that I, on their behalf, pursue that opportunity to be their voice,” Zeldin said. “It would be counterproductive if the opportunity to be their voice for their passions were silenced.” On the issue of time management, Zeldin explained, “It’s important to note we are in session in Washington half of the year. While there are some interviews in New York City, it should also be noted that interviews are inside of two studios here in Suffolk County. If I’m doing a 6:00 a.m. interview in New York or late night, or doing a 1 a.m. phone interview, this shows just how effective I am managing time and ensuring I give constituents a maximum voice weighing in on the issues and concerns, whether it’s the Iran Nuclear Deal, Veterans, immigration, eliminating ISIS and numerous other issues.”
Zeldin expressed concern over his opponent’s party hiring a videographer to track and film him and his family at non-political events. Said Zeldin: “The DNC pays someone to follow me around to videotape me at non-political events. I was attending a local community basketball game for kids in the community with my wife and children hosted by Councilman (Dan) Panico recently, and there were no political speeches, yet my family and I were being filmed.” Zeldin likens the tactic to being followed by a paid stalker. “There is a line that gets crossed here, and anyone who defends this conduct has to reflect on their own compass,” the Congressman said. “It’s different if it’s a political event where there is a press conference or interviews, but there is a line that has been crossed,” he underscored. Throne-Holst’s campaign manager Andrew Grunwald returned a response on behalf of his candidate stating: “This is the height of his hypocrisy because he had Anna followed since the beginning of her campaign at public and private events.” Grunwald said he could not comment on the how the DNC (Democratic National Committee) employs the videographer. The DNC did not return a call to South Shore Press for comment.
In turn, Zeldin vehemently denied the claim that he had Throne-Holst followed, stating, “This is absolutely not true,” Zeldin said in a follow-up phone call. “The allegation that we had her followed to non-political events is a story from someone with a very creative imagination.”
Moving forward, if elected, Throne-Holst said the first thing she would do if elected is to “reach out across the aisle to representatives who want to work on infrastructure, mass transportation, sustainability and climate change, to implement reform and gun safety and to put together a bi-partisan working group to address early childhood education and costs for higher education with affordable access.”
With the eventual election of a new President of the United States, the candidates shared their views on the next four years. Throne-Holst stated: “My focus is on being a Representative to the constituents of the First Congressional District, regardless of who the next president of the United States is. I have a track record of reaching across the aisle, getting things done, and I will continue to do that.”
To launch his second term, Zeldin stated: “There are important economic reforms, health care reforms to repeal and replace Obamacare, and there is a need to have a willing partner in the White House to improve our economy for the next four years and,” Zeldin added, “we will be choosing the future of the Supreme Court for the next 40 years. As a member of the majority of the House, I didn’t waste a minute to figure out fighting for leverage for important victories across the finish line, and in the weeks and months left of my first term, we continue to pick up momentum. A Representative’s work is never done and I will continue to be a strong voice and a strong advocate for my constituents.”

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