For Dan DeBono, few things better represent the complacency in the area than the Long Island Rail Road.
“If you ride the train often enough, as I do, you know how horrible it is with delays,” he said. “Something must be done to fix it … what is [Rep.] Tom Suozzi doing? He attends a lot of openings, but is he out there pounding the table in anger? We need a fighter, and Suozzi just wants to go with the flow.”
DeBono hopes to challenge Suozzi, a Democrat, in November as the Republican nominee for New York’s 3rd Congressional District.
DeBono was born in Syosset and raised in Northport, where he resides. He served for several years as a Navy SEAL and has spent the last 20 years in finance and investing.
He also formally and informally advised the presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney and Rudy Guiliani and currently serves as a committeeman for the Town of Huntington Republican Committee.
Given his financial background, the economy is one of his main focuses. President Donald Trump has been touting the success of the economy and the soaring stock market, but DeBono doesn’t buy it.
“It’s a mirage, the facts bear that out,” he said. “The economy is strong for some people but horrible for others … the jobs picture is not what it seems to be. We need to create a robust economy for middle-income workers.”
He said he wanted to grow small businesses, which he said are hampered in New York by over-regulation and nationwide by the government’s preferential treatment of big business through corporate welfare.
“The government has been conducting a reverse robin hood scheme for 10 years… and all it has done is enrich a tiny part of the population,” he said. “It has crushed middle-class families and made it impossible for small businesses to compete against conglomerates.”
He said he was concerned about how much was being added to the deficit by the new federal tax cuts (“if it was a private company they would all be fired,” he said). But when it came to local tax deductions, DeBono said that the cap imposed by the law was not the problem.
“It has pulled back the curtain on state and local taxes,” he said. “They sold taxes on the premise they were deductible and now we have to deal with it. [Gov. Andrew] Cuomo is trying all kinds of ridiculous schemes to beat the law and it was a complete waste of time that could have been better spent finding ways to cut taxes.”
Long Island’s high cost of living was an issue that DeBono returned to again and again. He said the area was a great place to live, but the state is losing young people to places like the Carolinas. At the state level, he would like to see the personal income tax eliminated and said that IDAs were a waste of money.
DeBono did have some praise for Trump, saying he was pleased to see the president run on putting Americans first. On the issue of immigration, he said that the borders needed to be enforced and that people who came to the country illegally should not get citizenship.
“People who broke the law, they don’t get to jump to the head of the line,” he said, noting that his wife was an immigrant who went through the 10-year naturalization process.
Regarding immigrants who arrived as children, DeBono said they could perhaps receive a green card if they obeyed the law, but added they should not receive voting rights.
In response to the shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, which he called a tragedy, DeBono called for more armed guards in schools but not for gun control, saying he was a firm supporter of the Second Amendment.
And regarding the proposed federal budget, DeBono said he would not support cuts to Medicare and Medicaid until wages improved.
“Many Americans would rather not depend on the government for health care,” he said. “Before we can cut entitlements, we have to cut corporate entitlements.”