By Jano Tantongco
Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) has backed Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills) in his quest to fill the Third Congressional District seat that will be vacated by Israel this election season.
“While I admire all of the Democratic candidates, I believe that Steve Stern is best able to continue and build on my four priorities in Congress: consistently supporting women’s rights, standing up for US-Israel relations, and demonstrating leadership on the environment and veterans,” Israel said in a statement.
In an interview Monday, Stern called Israel’s endorsement “tremendous,” not just for his campaign, but also on a personal level.
“He knows I share his values, and that I will continue much of the work that he has done in Congress representing our communities,” Stern said. Congressman Israel “has always been not just been a friend, and not just a mentor in public service, but most importantly, a well-respected representative of our community.”
Stern said he’s known the congressman for nearly two decades, initially meeting at a Half Hollow Hills Little League game when Israel was a Town of Huntington councilman.
“We’ve been friends since then,” he said, adding that he “could tell right away that we had much in common.”
Additionally, Stern announced another key component of his platform on Monday, issuing a “7-Point Full Women’s Equality Agenda,” outlining several points including, ending the wage gap between men and women; fighting against Tea Party attempts to defund Planned Parenthood; supporting women’s right to choose her own reproductive health care decisions; abolishing the so-called “Tampon Tax;” instituting paid family leave; opposing abstinence-only and anti-choice programs; and supporting women entrepreneurship.
“These are many of the most critical issues facing not just women, but all of our families,” Stern said. “Women’s issues are really family issues.”
Stern said his late mother, Idalee, owned a T-shirt store called The Special T on Main Street in Sayville, which opened in the mid-1970s.
“It was an early, women-owned business. There was a time for years, where every single birthday party you would go to, there would be numerous wrapped boxes from my mother’s store that made up a good portion of presents,” he said. “I think it’s important that we have someone in Congress who knows the challenges that small local, especially women-owned businesses face each and every day.”
Israel’s endorsement of Stern joins those of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone, and the Huntington Town Democratic Committee. He’s also been backed by Suffolk County Democratic Chairman Rich Schaffer, Suffolk Legislator Lou D’Amaro, Suffolk Legislator William “Doc” Spencer, Huntington Councilwoman Susan Berland, and Huntington Councilwoman Tracey Edwards.
“I appreciate their show of support, but it also shows that not only am I running on a record that I am very proud of, but that I’ve been able to work with other levels of governments on so many important issues that matter in our community,” Stern said.
As the June 28 primary draws near, the other Democratic candidates contending for the spot include North Hempstead Councilwoman Anna Kaplan; former North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman; former Suffolk County Executive Tom Suozzi; and law firm managing partner Jonathan Clarke.
On the Republican end, the remaining candidate is State Senator Jack Martins.