The following are answers to The Foggiest Five, a set of questions asked to influential Long Islanders on the future of the region. This round features Steve Israel, who served as a Member of Congress from 2001 to 2017, representing New York’s 2nd and 3rd districts. The views presented are the author’s alone, and do not represent the editorial views of Richard Murdocco or The Foggiest Idea:
1. What is your favorite part of living on Long Island?
The history, the water, and and the diners.
2. What is our greatest regional challenge?
We need to find a way to retain young people in order to grow our middle-class. In a changing economy we can’t afford to lose the next generation of small business owners, entrepreneurs, and innovators.
3. What is an easy first step to solving this challenge?
Revitalize downtowns, especially near LIRR stations, and provide sensible incentives to both builders and buyers of workforce housing. And adopt federal
policies that grow rather than shrink middle-class security.
4. What has been the biggest change that you’ve seen on Long Island during the course of your career?
The sense of a less-secure middle-class. Middle-class suburban families have felt the ground soften under them. We need to change priorities to reinvest in growth opportunities for the middle-class and all working families
5. What do you think Long Island will be like in 20 years?
If present trends continue, we’ll be a region of very wealthy and very poor families, and the space in-between will be narrower. But I’m confident. We went from potato fields and pumpkin farms to the defense and aerospace capital of America. If we can do that, we can do anything.
Former U.S. Representative Steve Israel held office from 2001 to 2017, representing New York’s 2nd and 3rd congressional districts. While in Congress, Israel held multiple public leadership roles, including serving as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for four years. After retiring from elected public service, Israel authored multiple books and can be seen as a political commentator on MSNBC. His views on the issues of the day appear regularly in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, and can be seen on 60 Minutes, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Fox News, and elsewhere.
Currently, Israel heads the Cornell University Institute of Politics and Global Affairs in New York City, and serves on the boards of Long Island University, the Theodore Roosevelt Association, the American Battlefield Trust, Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, the Council for a Secure America, and Haiti Air Ambulance. He lives in Oyster Bay.
Interested in supporting The Foggiest Idea’s award-winning reporting and analysis? Click here.