Jon Kaiman, left, and Josh Lafazan, Democratic contenders in the primary...

Jon Kaiman, left, and Josh Lafazan, Democratic contenders in the primary for the 3rd Congressional District. Credit: James Escher (Kaiman) and Howard Schnapp (Lafazan)

Daily Point

Neck-and-neck in 3rd Congressional District

Democratic CD3 candidates Josh Lafazan and Jon Kaiman are in a dead heat with less than two months to go before the congressional primary, according to a poll conducted by the Lafazan campaign and obtained by The Point.

The poll shows Lafazan, a Nassau County legislator, and Kaiman, the former North Hempstead Town supervisor, tied with 20% of the vote each. Robert Zimmerman, meanwhile, held on to 10% of the vote, while Melanie D’Arrigo and Reema Rasool each had 4%.

But the poll also showed that there’s a lot more racing to do: A significant 43% of those polled were undecided, according to the Lafazan campaign survey.

Lafazan campaign officials told The Point the poll results encouraged them to continue with their ongoing game plan, which emphasizes a field operation staffed by more than 100 interns.

The poll indicated that Kaiman had the highest favorability levels, at 44%, with Lafazan at 35% and Zimmerman at 31%. Zimmerman held the highest unfavorables, according to the poll, at 15%.

But Zimmerman also had the biggest jump in the survey results after the poll provided “positive descriptions” of each candidate.

The poll’s description of Lafazan said he “stood up to the old-style politics to get results” and talked about the economy, inflation, guns, abortion rights, and his promise to “never defund the police.” The description of Kaiman mentioned his work in Suffolk County and North Hempstead, calling him a “problem solver,” and emphasizing Social Security and Medicare protections, climate change, affordable health care, and a woman’s right to choose, saying he would “work to reclaim the traditional values of the Democratic Party.”

The Zimmerman description called him a small-business owner and “longtime member of the Democratic National Committee,” noting that he’d be the first gay congressman from the area, emphasizing his commitment to civil rights and social justice, and adding in some of the endorsements he’s received. D'Arrigo, meanwhile, was described as a “healthcare advocate, community organizer and mother of three,” noting her emphasis on Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.

After the descriptions, 27% of voters chose Lafazan, compared with 23% for Kaiman and 17% for Zimmerman. Another 22% of voters remained undecided.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Lafazan led the field in Oyster Bay Town, where his legislative district is located, but Kaiman led in the rest of Nassau County, including his North Hempstead base, and in Queens. Zimmerman tied with Lafazan for second, behind Kaiman, in the rest of Nassau County. The poll showed that Kaiman took the lead among voters who identified as very liberal, while Lafazan held on to the more moderate vote. Kaiman led among older men, Lafazan among women and voters under 50.

“A successful candidate needs a base of support and the money to communicate their ideas and vision,” Lafazan campaign manager Chase Serota told The Point. “It is evident that Josh is the only candidate in this race with both.”

— Rita Ciolli @ritaciolli and Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Talking Point

'Mini downtown' planned in Port Jefferson Station

A new “hamlet center” is what developer Valentin Staller, vice president at Staller Associates, calls the total redevelopment of the 112,000-square-foot shopping center at Jefferson Plaza.

“We want it to be hamlet size, so we’re calling it sort of a hamlet center,” said Staller in an interview with The Point. “We really want this to be the hub of the hamlet where we do things like farmers markets, Oktoberfest, winter holiday market, St Patrick's Day. We want to have a meaningful commercial space and also activate our public spaces to engage the community so that this really becomes a mini downtown for this community.”

Developed by Staller’s great-grandfather and grandfather, the shopping center first opened in 1958 and sits on more than 10 acres of land. The center was once home to some of the area's biggest retail stores, but is now largely vacant. Staller calls the site a “struggling retail corridor that has a lot of vacancies,” and says it has seen “its fair share of challenges over the last 20 years of vacancies going up.”

While zoning remains a challenge for developers wanting to build new housing developments on Long Island, it was the Town of Brookhaven’s new zoning code and the surrounding community’s support that made this project possible.

“The community actually came up with this land-use plan called the Port Jefferson Station Commercial Hub Center all the way back in 2014 where they envisioned a mixed-used center, much more walkable environment for this corridor,” said Staller.

In 2021, Staller Associates applied to rezone Jefferson Plaza to build the mixed-use housing community that is projected to have 280 apartments, a food court, a gym, and other shops. This came as Newsday’s nextLI released its report on rehabbing Long Island’s empty storefronts. The report analyzed several struggling retail spaces across Long Island that could be re-imagined to better serve the surrounding community and grow the local economy.

Staller expects the redevelopment of Jefferson Plaza to break ground some time in 2024 once granted its site plan approval and building permit.

— Coralie Saint-Louis @coralienewsday

Pencil Point

Whither America?

Credit: Caglecartoons.com/Rivers

For more cartoons, visit www.newsday.com/nationalcartoons

Reference Point

When the Fourth didn't go swimmingly everywhere

There are not many things that are more quintessentially Long Island than a summer trip to the beach, and even more so on the Fourth of July weekend.

Newsday’s editorial board, like the readers it served then and now, was also contemplating sand, shore and sun on June 30, 1950, in an editorial titled “Beach Reports Again.” And like those readers, then and now, the board was concerned about the quality of the water in which all those toes would dip.

“In time for the Fourth of July rush, beach reports have been published to warn bathers where not to swim,” the board wrote. “As usual, there are disappointments, and disagreements between the reports.”

In those days, evaluations were issued by county health departments and some newspapers. In this case, Nassau’s health department refused bathing permits to three spots, including Steppingstone Park in Kings Point. The New York World-Telegram in its annual survey downgraded Jones Beach from “Excellent” to merely “Good” and Manhasset Bay to “Substandard,” but credited “Doubtful” Bar Beach in Hempstead with some improvement.

The board also archly observed that “some Suffolk waters are presumably as bad as ever.”

A cartoon that ran with the Newsday editorial on June...

A cartoon that ran with the Newsday editorial on June 30, 1950.

Water pollution, then as now, was a major worry. But many of Long Island’s sewage treatment plants had yet to be built. And the subsequent upgrades that, for example, are leading to improving water quality in Long Island Sound were decades away.

Newsday’s editorial board sounded a hopeful note while issuing a prescient warning:

“Well, we suppose it is a good sign that the reports this year were no worse,” the board wrote. “Eventually they promise to improve. But it takes still more sewage planning and control to make sure they will improve. Water pollution at Long Island’s favorite recreation spots is still far from conquered.”

— Michael Dobie @mwdobie and Amanda Fiscina @adfiscina