The flyer for the Mineola Republican Club's candidates night features Kevin...

The flyer for the Mineola Republican Club's candidates night features Kevin Smith, founder of Long Island Loud Majority. Credit: Mineola Republican Club

Daily Point

Meet the Long Island Loud Majority

It’s not atypical for local political clubs to hold “meet the candidates” evenings as Election Day approaches. With the gubernatorial primary next week and early voting underway, the Mineola Republican Club is hosting its own candidates’ evening Wednesday night.

Among those expected to attend: gubernatorial candidate Rep. Lee Zeldin; George Santos, who is running in CD3; Anthony D’Esposito, who is running in CD4; former State Sen. Jack Martins, who is running for his old State Senate seat; and Assemb. Ed Ra.

The Santos campaign later told The Point Santos would not be attending the Mineola event.

But featured front and center on the event flyer that’s been posted to social media: Kevin Smith, co-founder of the Long Island Loud Majority, a far-right advocacy group. Smith said he was asked to speak at the club’s gathering and that it is one of five or six the group has attended or will attend in the lead-up to next week’s primary.

“As long as we’re invited, we show up,” Smith said.

While the group previously focused its efforts on Suffolk County, Smith noted that it has been working to expand into Nassau, especially to work with Santos and to help D’Esposito in CD4.

And the work goes beyond speaking at events like Wednesday’s club meeting. LILM members are knocking on doors, trying to get out the vote in key districts, and asking others to do the same.

“We take on the hardest races,” Smith told The Point. “We’re out there 16, 18, 20 hours a day doing the things that need to happen.”

The work won’t stop next week, either. Smith noted that the advantage of having two primary dates is that he’ll have time to focus on state Senate and congressional races into the summer.

And he has big goals, like turning every Long Island congressional seat — and the Island’s entire state Senate delegation — red.

— Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall
 

Talking Point

Regrets, they had a few …

Rep. Lee Zeldin, one of two House members from Long Island seeking a nomination for governor on June 28, did not play up his performance on local issues during Monday’s Republican debate. But that’s just what Rep. Tom Suozzi did last week when the Democratic candidates held their final televised clash.

Standing alongside his rivals before the cameras at NBC studios in Manhattan, Suozzi was asked by a moderator to describe in a few seconds a single decision that marked his biggest mistake in public service.

His response went back nearly three decades to his home city of Glen Cove.

“When I was mayor of Glen Cove and I built a new City Hall, police station, city court and EMS building,” Suozzi said, “I wanted to put the (EMS) building on the left side of the firehouse and the firefighters fought back against me. And I put it on the right side of the firehouse.”

The Point later asked Suozzi why he rued that choice.

Suozzi recalled that was in 1994. EMS headquarters needed to be alongside the fire headquarters since the two services work together. Unfortunately, a picnic area firefighters called the “ponderosa” was already on the site he targeted.

So he switched plans for what would go where. But that resulted in a more complicated and indirect approach to the Glen Cove waterfront, he said. Suozzi couches it as a lesson learned from extensive government experience that later led him to become Nassau County executive and then Congress member.

When Jumaane Williams, the NYC public advocate, was asked the same “mistake” question he cited the pandemic. At the outset of COVID-19, Williams said, he urged people to “go out and support local businesses” — but as information emerged about how the virus spread, he said, he instantly reversed the course of his public messaging.

Gov. Kathy Hochul went with the obvious. She said her biggest governing error was selecting Brian Benjamin to succeed her as lieutenant governor. He was indicted months later on corruption charges that had previously been publicized, and resigned under pressure.

“We should have done more investigation in the short time we had with limited staff in the selection of a lieutenant governor,” Hochul said. Former Rep. Antonio Delgado is now her preference in the primary for LG. She appointed him to replace Benjamin — and the Democratic-run legislature passed legislation that allowed Benjamin to remove his name from the June 28 primary ballot.

As debate pitches, the answers from Hochul and Williams — a bad appointment and a bad announcement — allowed them to say they reversed their errors.

Suozzi openly admits his old firehouse flub remains set in concrete. Perhaps listeners will give him points for candor.

— Dan Janison @Danjanison

Pencil Point

A running gripe

Credit: Politicalcartoons.com/Dick Wright

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Final Point

North Hempstead’s latest battle lines

Under its first Republican supervisor in a generation — and after the state’s huge redistricting clash — Democrats on the Town of North Hempstead board prevailed in a recent vote to redraw its council districts.

Redistricting on every governmental level remains a contentious issue.

Because North Hempstead has become a competitive partisan playing field, the new map, adopted in a 4-3 vote Thursday, drew sharp criticism, much of it centered on the process that created it.

The board’s four Democrats agreed to enact one of the four maps presented to it by a redistricting commission set up under the town charter. It featured Democratic consultant Jeff Wice on one side and Republican state Senate candidate Jack Martins, seeking his former seat, on the other. Both are well-known figures on the redistricting scene on Long Island and statewide.

Among the complaints and assertions from community and GOP figures: that the three commission hearings on the plan were sparsely publicized, attracting limited attendance; that maps written by a census expert were not displayed at hearings so people could ask commissioners for specific adjustments to be made; and that maps divided Mineola across districts.

Also, the quirks of the town’s staggered schedule for board member elections would result in some districts voting in consecutive years and others not voting for six years.

Martins, a former senator from the 7th SD who sat on the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission, appealed to the Democratic majority on the board to reconsider an immediate vote so they could “get it right.”

Wice, in presenting the map options, said they included smaller population variations than before, and an Asian-American plurality district — as well as keeping the Herrick Union Free School District whole in response to residents’ request.

“This was probably the most open process for any redistricting for Nassau and Suffolk that I’ve seen,” Wice said.

Later, Martins, a former Mineola mayor who now lives in Old Westbury, replied he wasn’t interested in just being “the best in all of Long Island — How about doing it right?”

Elaborating, Martins said it is relatively easy nowadays to reach out directly to mayors, civic groups, pastors, school boards and others. Instead, Martins said, there were three hearings that cumulatively lasted less than four hours in total, and that the maps aren’t really due until Aug. 12.

Michele Lamberti, of the League of Women Voters of Port Washington-Manhasset, expressed concern about the process, particularly how and when the maps were released. "It’s much easier to work with communities when they have something to look at.”

Emphasizing the LWV’s nonpartisan role, she added: “I know there have been several changes this year — and I’d encourage the town to work together on this.”
— Dan Janison @Danjanison