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House candidates in 2022 midterm elections

Councilwoman Bridget Fleming (left) and Nick LaLota (right). The candidates will be competing for New York’s 1st District seat in the House of Representatives on Nov. 8. ILLUSTRATION BY TIM GIORLANDO/THE STATESMAN

The incumbent representative for New York’s 1st District, Republican Lee Zeldin, is currently running for governor of New York. This leaves the seat open for two new candidates: Democratic nominee Bridget Fleming and Republican nominee Nick LaLota. 

Bridget Fleming

A former attorney and Southampton town councilwoman, Fleming now serves as a Suffolk County legislator. Fleming is affiliated with the Democratic party but says she values working with both parties. 

According to her campaign, she intends to go after “price gouging” by oil companies, as well as supply chain disruptions, while promoting domestic trade and manufacturing. 

Another issue she plans to address is the rising cost of housing and higher education. 

Fleming believes eliminating the cap on state and local tax deductions could help middle class Americans attain more tax relief, while wealthy individuals and corporations receive less. 

Additionally, Fleming says she will support the “For the People Act” and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, both of which are aimed at expanding voting rights. The former also targets gerrymandering and monetary influence in politics. 

Long Island would also move towards using more solar and wind energy under Fleming’s representation, with lowered energy costs for residents and well-paying jobs for workers in transition. In addition, she aims to protect Long Island’s coastal regions from weather, and its aquifer — the only drinking water source — by implementing programs to combat nitrogen and surface-water pollution. 

Funding would increase funding for mental health services in order to provide additional counseling and care programs. She also aims to increase funding to the police, who would be required to wear body cameras in order to enable more transparency.

Fleming plans to strengthen education programs across multiple fronts through supporting early childhood programs, providing alternatives to college and lessening the financial burden on college students. 

“I will advocate for our nation’s students from the day they enter school to the day they graduate,” Fleming said on her campaign website. 

Fleming also values increasing gun control, fair working wages, national security, social security and access to “safe and legal” abortions, birth control and contraceptives. 

“Fleming could be best described as a moderate Democrat running on a platform that promotes reproductive rights (probably the most significant/prominent element of her campaign), protects the environment, increases healthcare coverage to disadvantaged Americans, and encourages economic aid in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Charles Joseph Burgardt, a junior majoring in history and political science and the secretary for the College Democrats, said in an email to The Statesman.

Nick LaLota

The Republican nominee for the House, Nick LaLota, is a former naval officer who retired and moved to politics. He served on the Amityville Board of Trustees and the Committee to the Police Department and is now chief of staff to the Suffolk County Legislature. 

According to LaLota’s website, New York gets 93 cents back for every dollar it pays in federal taxes. He expressed plans to increase federal funding to improve Long Island’s infrastructure.

Ray Chen, vice president of Stony Brook University’s College Republicans, supports this stance. 

“More federal money could be used for New York’s roads and infrastructure, which is essential to the island but currently not of the best quality,” Chen said. “We should be focused on trying to get more of Congress’s funds. Federal taxes should be used to get our roads and bridges in a better condition.”

To create more affordable healthcare, LaLota stated that he will work with both Republicans and Democrats. He plans to lower the cost of prescription drugs, require insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, allow Medicare to negotiate prices for members over the age of 65 and enable greater transparency in the pricing of medical bills.

“What most people assume is that Republicans are in favor of ‘Big Pharma’ and raising drug prices, but contrary to this, LaLota is doing his best to work with both parties in lowering drug costs and keeping insurance companies from hurting the average American with things like exuberant medical bills and failing to cover pre-existing conditions,” Chen said.

Economically, LaLota believes that promoting domestic manufacturing would limit inflation. He also emphasized “the safe extraction” of America’s oil and natural gas reserves would reduce energy prices. 

This measure “will decrease the price of gasoline and other essential goods for the people of Long Island,” said Chen. 

LaLota expressed the intention to shrink the size and spending of the government by passing a balanced budget. 

LaLota also supports the “Protect and Serve Act,” which would make police nationwide a protected group for the purpose of limiting violence against police officers. 

Other issues LaLota supports are banning second and third trimester abortions, requiring voter ID, limiting absentee ballots, limiting “the suppression of conservative news” and looser gun restrictions.

Prediction

Professor John Barry Ryan, the director of undergraduate studies for Political Science at Stony Brook University, commented on both House candidates. 

“Typically, we see Democrats and Republicans taking different sides on the issues. However, both these candidates — and Congressman Lee Zeldin before them — all have the same position on raising the cap on how much of a deduction on their federal taxes people can take because of the state and local taxes they are paying,” Ryan said.

He attributed the candidates’ similarities to the fact that New Yorkers pay higher taxes than residents of many other states. Raising the cap on federal tax deduction means that New York residents would have more money to spend.

“That overcomes ideological differences,” Ryan said.

While the candidates take differing stances on issues such as abortion and gun legislation, they also both prioritize decreasing the cost of living and tax burdens that New Yorkers face.

Ryan reflected on each candidates’ chances of winning the election. 

“The 1st Congressional District has a pretty even mix of Democrats and Republicans, but generally has more Republicans than Democrats,” Ryan said. Neither candidate has been involved in a major scandal. Neither candidate has embraced the more extreme elements of their party. So, LaLota probably wins narrowly.”

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