53° Good Morning
53° Good Morning

Gregory Meeks to represent the 5th Congressional District

Gregory Meeks, Democratic incumbent in the 5th Congressional

Gregory Meeks, Democratic incumbent in the 5th Congressional District. Credit: James Escher

Gregory Meeks has been an able representative for his Queens district for more than two decades, balancing local issues with national priorities. A 2012 redistricting meant his new district shifted over to include a slice of Nassau County. With this new section, we are glad to see Meeks’ capable leadership has not waned.

Meeks, 63, of St. Albans, was a three-term state assemblyman, and has served in Congress since 1998. A practical legislator, he has become an evangelist for the gains of his party. He joined his Democratic colleagues on the floor of the House in a June protest for action on gun control in the wake of the Orlando shootings. In his meeting with the editorial board, Meeks delivered a passionate vision of immigration as central to the great experiment of American democracy. In a key fight for the next Congress, he would be an advocate for a pathway to citizenship.

He knows how to bring federal power and funding to bear at home. Within a potential national infrastructure bill, Meeks would push to fund projects like a refurbished Long Island Rail Road station at Belmont Park, which would complement expected development there. Meeks has delivered funding to rebuild swathes of his district affected by superstorm Sandy. And to deal with excessive noise around Kennedy Airport, he’s investigating whether flight paths can be more evenly distributed when safety allows, and urging plane manufacturers to make quieter engines. Meeks shows a continued connection to his district new and old.

His opponent is Michael O’Reilly, 58, an attorney, former Marine and airline pilot from Broad Channel. A moderate New York Republican, he calls for less regulation and a streamlined tax policy for small-business owners. The arrival of Donald Trump has sucked the air from Republicans like O’Reilly. He has a complicated attitude toward the top of the ticket, as opposed to a refreshingly uncomplicated position on immigration: Strengthen border security, even build a Southern border wall, but create a pathway to citizenship for law-abiding immigrants. This is a principled take in the current climate. Still, even O’Reilly’s brand of Republicanism does not represent the majority of his district.

Meeks is a fine advocate for his constituents. Newsday endorses Meeks. — The editorial board