Freshman U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Little Neck) will be facing one more general election challenger after Syosset resident Joshua Sauberman changed his party designation from Democrat to Independent.
Sauberman said he made the move so he can stand with the working and middle classes by taking action on low wages as well as affordable health care and higher education, while also attempting to shed the “constraints of restrictive party mandates” and bring effective change in a divided Washington, D.C., according to his campaign.
But Sauberman’s effort to seize the congressional seat from Suozzi is still what his team refers to as a progressive, grassroots campaign.
Sauberman, 35, says he has worked as a policy analyst for the United Nations’ Security Council, followed by a stint in the insurance business. He has also been a documentary filmmaker. He hopes to address the issues of airplane noise over his district and public education.
Born in Oakland Gardens, Sauberman has lived in Syosset since 1991. Since there is already a massive amount of airplane traffic in and out of LaGuardia Airport and with Port Authority expansions to the airline hub, he warned more frequent noise disruptions can be expected over homes in Whitestone, Flushing and other parts of Queens.
Sauberman explained how he planned to transform the airline industry by using congressional influence to bring Hyperloop One — developed by billionaire space pioneer Richard Branson — to the region in an interview with TimesLedger in February.
“As part of a major infrastructure plan, I’m looking to get a lot of those regional jets that come into that airport out of the sky by bringing Hyperloop One into the area, so that we’re not only moving people in faster from Long Island and Queens into Manhattan,” Sauberman said. “Right now, they’re looking [at] building the first Hyperloop between Los Angeles and San Francisco. I would like to us do the same here in New York and throughout the Northeast.”
Hyperloop One, like something out of a science fiction film, is a pneumatic tube-like design to move passengers and freight at extreme speeds across the country.
Suozzi is a member of the Quiet Skies Caucus, but Sauberman has little confidence in their ability to bring meaningful change.
Sauberman plans to use his position if elected to Congress to bring money to schools in his district to fund programs that educate students in technology and science fields.
“We need more funding for the schools so that we have students who are better equipped to compete on the global economy,” Sauberman said. “We have transitioned from a president who created millions of jobs to a president who’s about to lose millions of jobs. A lot of these jobs have been created and gone unfulfilled because of a skills gap. We aren’t producing as many students skilled in STEM, and that ultimately comes down to the federal government not investing in public schools.”
Suozzi, who served as Nassau County executive until his defeat by current County Executive Edward Mangano in 2009, has been listed as a target for Republican challenge.
The National Republican Congressional Committee included Suozzi’s district on a list of 36 other seats the GOP plans to capture.
Syosset banker and former Navy SEAL Dan DeBono is in the running on the GOP ticket.
“The success of our government depends on Republicans maintaining a strong majority in the House. We owe the American people assurance that the agenda we were elected on — health-care reform, a stronger national defense, and more good-paying jobs — is fulfilled,” Chairman Steve Stivers said in a February release.
In 2016, Suozzi beat former Long Island state Sen. Jack Martins in the general election, in addition to several other primary opponents for the seat vacated by Steve Israel.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall