Redistricting may bring Congressmember Steve Israel back to Queens


| mchan@queenscourier.com |



Recent redistricting may return one Long Island representative back to his childhood.

Congressmember Steve Israel currently serves the state’s 2nd Congressional District, which is located entirely on Long Island. But come November, newly-redrawn lines mean portions of northeast Queens will be added to the district.

For incumbent Israel, winning re-election would mean gaining a slice of new territory, as well as pieces from his past.

“In a sense, I’m returning to my youth. My father grew up in Queens, and I spent almost every Sunday visiting my grandparents in Flushing. I’ve spent a lot of time there,” he said. “I am incredibly excited. I can’t wait to go to work in Queens.”

The 53-year-old politician from Dix Hills, Long Island, said he is “fully partisan about only one issue.”

And that is his love for the Mets.

Israel is a member of the House Leadership, serving as the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. This month, he was appointed to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council.

Prior to election, he said he was a small business owner for five years, helping with marketing for Jewish community groups and high-tech businesses.

The 2nd Congressional District currently encompasses Huntington, Babylon, Islip, Smithtown and Oyster Bay and will soon include Bay Terrace, Beechhurst, Whitestone, Douglaston and Little Neck. Though the represented counties differ in demographics and property taxes, Israel said his agenda will hardly change.

He said he knows the term “rich” is relative, and still plans to continue advocating for middle class families and veterans, while growing small businesses, protecting Medicare and ensuring neighborhood safety.

Among his accomplishments so far, Israel said he has secured more than $5 million in benefits for Long Island veterans, as well as “record-level” federal investments to protect the Long Island Sound. He also voted to extend the payroll tax cut for working families, saving the average middle class family $1,500 in 2012, he said.

According to both the Nassau and Suffolk County GOP Committees, the only Republican primary challenger to face the incumbent, Israel, is Stephen Labate, a financial planner and active high-ranking officer in the U.S. armed forces. Israel, who has been representing the district since 2001, is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. He was re-elected two years ago, beating Republican challenger John Gomez for the seat by 16,509 votes in Suffolk County.