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Israel welcomed to ranks of Queens politicians

After the 2012 elections, longtime Long Island U.S. Rep. Steve Israel will also represent the Queens neighborhoods of Bay Terrace and Whitestone. Photo by Christina Santucci
TimesLedger Newspapers

With his victory in the election, U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Hauppauge) secured himself a spot as one of Queens’ new lawmakers.

Israel, who ran against Republican Stephen Labate and Libertarian Michael McDermott, received more than 57 percent of the vote in the election, according to unofficial NY1 results.

He will now represent the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District, which stretches from Whitestone through Beechhurst, Bay Terrace, a sliver of Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck and eastern Queens into the North Shore of Long Island, including Huntington, Babylon, Islip, Smithtown and Oyster Bay.

“I’m honored to have been elected in this new district,” Israel said. “It’s been a very tough week in our community and I know the election was the last thing on most people’s minds. But I think it really shows how strong our community is.”

Israel was first elected to Congress in 2001 and has been representing areas in Nassau County ever since. But newly drawn congressional district lines have landed the lawmaker in northeast Queens to represent areas including Bay Terrace and Little Neck.

“I’m actually a product of Queens,” Israel said, mentioning he spent Sundays during his childhood in Flushing, where his father grew up.

As for adjusting to his new constituents, Israel said he was confident about addressing the local and national issues that matter most to the borough. On the local level, Israel said he had already met with several community and elected officials, including state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and state Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) to explore issues that influence the region, like tax assessments for owners of co-ops and condos.

But on national issues, Israel said he already felt well-versed after spending more than a decade in Washington.

“I’m not sure there’s that much of a difference between Little Neck and Huntington on the national issues,” Israel said. “People want a Congress that is about ideas and not ideology. They want a Congress that is going to protect Medicare instead of give tax breaks to billionaires. They want a Congress that is going to spend more time figuring out how to open up small businesses and less time trying to figure out how to shut down Planned Parenthood.”

The election came just days after Hurricane Sandy battered the New York area, destroying homes and downing trees and power lines. But despite the aftermath of the storm, which included a gas shortage and ongoing efforts to restore electricity, Israel said he saw some of the best of his communities in the election.

“People didn’t have power, they didn’t know where to vote, they didn’t have gas to get to the polls, but they still got out and exercised their civic duty,” Israel said. “I’m just so proud of the way our community has weathered this storm and I am humbled to represent them in Congress. Now Democrats and Republicans must join together to rebuild our community, restore its power lines and reignite the middle class.”

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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