U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi and former Councilmember Diana Reyna Credit: Contributed photos

Self-ascribed “common-sense” Democrats, U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi and former Councilmember Diana Reyna are gunning to potentially replace Gov. Kathy Hochul in this year’s gubernatorial and lieutenant governor’s races. Here are their views on the big issues impacting New York City and State.

“I’m running for governor because I’m really concerned about our state,” said Suozzi. “I’m concerned about the rise in crime. I’m concerned about the lack of affordability; people are moving out of New York State.”

But mostly, Suozzi said, he’s deeply concerned about the state of the Democratic Party. As a “common-sense” Democrat he maintains that he won’t “pander to the left” or “back down to the crazy right.” He’s said he’s determined to work with anybody “with a heart to help people” despite their political affiliation.

Suozzi’s campaign for governor picked up steam after Hochul’s running mate, former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin, was embroiled in scandal. Still, Hochul hasn’t signed off on entering into debates with Suozzi or Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who is also running for governor. Suozzi said that he is “personally fond” of his competitor, Williams, though he fundamentally disagrees with his left politics.

Suozzi was trained as a CPA, attorney, elected mayor of his hometown Glen Cove on Long Island, and in Congress, led the fight to restore (SALT) the State and Local Tax Deduction, an issue concerning working families in high property taxed communities. He said he has a “proven track record” in all forms of government and knows how to manage from an executive office. His campaign is laser focused on crime, taxes, and affordability because they’re nonpartisan issues that affect all New Yorkers.

“I’ve always known that taxes are the biggest drawback in our state,” said Suozzi. “Our state and local taxes are one of the highest taxes in the United States of America and it’s one of the reasons people leave to these lower tax states, like North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida.”

In his 15 point crime plan, Suozzi lays out a similar approach to crime reduction as Mayor Eric Adams’ Blueprint to End Gun Violence. His ideas include giving judges discretion in bail reform, a precision policing model, mental health treatments for homeless individuals, rigorous gun buyback programs, using shotspotters to triangulate shootings, and community policing. Suozzi said he’s passionate about prevention and intervention of crime and its underlying factors.

“Reducing crime and guns are enforcement but it is also long-term prevention. You have to do both,” said Suozzi.

“Public safety is the number one priority. The number one issue on people’s minds,” said his running mate, former Councilmember Diana Reyna. “We cannot continue delaying loopholes in bail reform. We have an affordability crisis, when you have young people graduating their careers, making good money and they can’t afford a place to live. Something’s wrong with our state.”

Reyna was the first woman of Dominican heritage elected in New York State in 2001. She was on the city council for 12 years. Reyna also describes herself as a lifelong common sense Democrat that will reach across the aisle to have conversations on difficult policies. She criticizes the Democratic Party, in particular the progressive left, for not “owning” issues like the gun violence crisis or a crackdown on the opioid crisis.

“Interestingly enough there is a common theme as you travel the state, rather than differences,” said Reyna.

Reyna is a first-generation Dominican American, born and raised in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She said her mom immigrated to the U.S. in 1965, became a seamstress and then a home attendant while raising three daughters.

Reyna said one of her motivations for running for lieutenant governor was to see more Hispanic/Latino representation in higher offices of government in the state. She would be the first ever Latina to win lieutenant governor. “This is an opportunity for Latinos to have a voice,” said Reyna, “to have their values represented, to have an opportunity to make history.”

Reyna said that Hochul could have just waited for the primary and had a ‘fairly’ elected running mate instead of shoehorning in U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado to replace Benjamin ahead of the primaries.

“The interim governor had an excellent opportunity to wait until the primary for her democratic nominee for lieutenant governor. She chose not to do that,” said Reyna. “She had an opportunity to wait until the primaries were over to have a lieutenant governor that would have been elected by the people.”

Both Suozzi and Reyna were supportive of protecting abortion rights in New York State.

“I am pro choice, I believe in women’s reproductive rights. I believe that we should protect. I think Kathy Hochul has spent much more time talking about reproductive rights than addressing the issues of fixing bail reform and that is a travesty. Our neighborhoods are dying. We need to restore trust between community and law enforcement,” said Reyna.

Suozzi said he stands with Hochul on the issue and that abortion must remain safe, legal, and accessible.

Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about culture and politics in New York City for The Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting: https://tinyurl.com/fcszwj8w

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