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OpinionEditorial

Kathleen Rice to represent 4th Congressional District

Kathleen Rice is the Democratic candidate in the

Kathleen Rice is the Democratic candidate in the Fourth Congressional District. Credit: James Escher

Rep. Kathleen Rice often talks about being the voice of her constituents, and her willingness to go against her party when she has needed to.

It's that voice — and her strong will — that the Fourth Congressional District needs more of from Rice. Since Rice's public decision to split with now-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Garden City Democrat has been relegated to the sidelines in the Democratic caucus. But from her seats on the House's Homeland Security and Veterans' Affairs committees, there's a lot Rice can do. She rightly speaks out against the Trump administration's immigration policies, and expresses worry about veterans suicide rates, both critical issues that will need significant attention in the next Congress. Beyond her committee work, Rice keeps the spotlight on issues that always have been important to her: infrastructure, the environment, health care and technology.

Also important is Rice's role in the New Democrat Coalition, which focuses on bridging gaps within the party. Rice is right to try to bring together the progressive arm of her party with those more in the middle — and that effort will be even more critical in the months and years to come, no matter who sits in the White House.

While Rice, 55, has been criticized by her opponent for not being a dynamic presence in her district, her attention to Newsday's Long Island Divided series, and her concerns over housing segregation across the region and especially in her district, are welcome. She sees ways that the federal government can help. And she should explore those further.

Republican Douglas Tuman is the Town of Hempstead's commissioner of engineering. Tuman, a first-time candidate who lives in West Hempstead, is focused on improving higher education, reducing regulations, and establishing floodgates on the South Shore. The thrust of Tuman's campaign is that he would be more engaged in the district than Rice. But many of his positions don't fit with Long Island's needs. Tuman, 40, who hosts a YouTube channel devoted to talking about cryptocurrency, wants to see government take a hands-off role on regulating the emerging digital currency and on climate change, and instead would rely on the free market to find its own solutions. He doesn't believe in mask mandates and thinks COVID-19 relief dollars should be linked to how a community handles the pandemic.

Rice admits that she often works behind the scenes. It's time for her to emerge from behind the curtain and take a more public role to fight for her constituents and to address the issues she cares about in innovative ways, like what she did years ago with her push for interlock devices to prevent drunken driving.

Newsday endorses Rice.

— The editorial board

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