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Meet the New Yorkers vying to replace George Santos

Democrat Tom Suozzi and Republican Mazi Pilip face off next week in a special election to replace expelled Rep. George Santos and represent New York's third congressional district.
Democrat Tom Suozzi and Republican Mazi Pilip face off next week in a special election to replace expelled Rep. George Santos and represent New York's 3rd congressional district.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted last year to expel Republican congressman George Santos, leaving open New York’s 3rd congressional district — a swing district covering parts of Nassau County and a small section of Queens.

The polls will be open until 9:00 p.m. Local polling sites are available here.

Here’s what to know about the candidates:

Mazi Pilip

Mazi Pilip is the Republican-backed nominee. Born in Ethiopia, she now holds dual Israeli and American citizenship. She served in the Israeli Defense Forces before coming to the United States almost 20 years ago.

Pilip, a mother of seven, began her political career in 2021, after being elected to the Nassau County legislature and won reelection in 2023. Despite running as a Republican, she has been a registered member of the Democratic Party since 2012.

In a debate hosted by News12 Long Island on Thursday, Feb. 8, Pilip said she supported additional border agents and a wall on the southern border as her solution to the migrant crisis, although she did not disclose how she would solve the influx of migrants to New York City and the surrounding suburbs. The state has struggled with housing migrants bussed to the state by Republican leaders, most notably Texas Gov. Greg Abott.

Pilip said she would not support a national abortion ban and believes in a woman’s right to choose whether to have an abortion — however, she declined to label herself as pro-choice. She said she would ban automatic assault weapons, which have been outlawed in the United States for decades. She did not offer a clear stance on semi-automatic weapons, such as the AR-15 assault rifle.

She earned a bachelor's degree in occupational therapy from the University of Haifa, and has a masters degree in diplomacy and security from Tel Aviv University.

Tom Suozzi

Democrat Tom Suozzi was elected mayor of Glen Cove in 1994 where he served until 2001. The same year his mayoral career came to an end, Suozzi was elected to be the Nassau County Executive where he served from 2002 until 2009.

Nassau County was named the “worst run county in America” by the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, and was in a fiscal crisis when Suozzi took office. Nassau was nearly $3 billion in debt with the county’s bonds at junk level status. Suozzi takes credit for being able to restore the fiscal stability of the county.

In 2016, Suozzi was elected to represent New York’s 3rd congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives where he considered himself a problem-solver, leading a bipartisan caucus working together to find common ground in efforts to reduce taxes, protect the environment, and improve infrastructure.

In 2021, Suozzi pushed to raise the SALT cap, increasing the $10,000 limit on state and local tax deductions to $80,000 over a decade. Suozzi said the increase will help keep billions of dollars in the pockets of millions of New Yorkers.

He served in the Congress until 2022 when he left to challenge Gov. Kathy Hochul in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

With a campaign slogan of “Let’s Fix This,” Suozzi said he is running for his old seat to help heal the country. He said he’ll work to ban the firearms frequently used in mass shootings. In last week’s debate, he reminded viewers of his “F” rating from the National Rifle Association, a system used to rank policy makers based on their support for gun rights.

Suozzi is a trained Certified Public Accountant with a bachelor's degree from Boston College. He received a law degree from the Fordham University School of Law.

Maya Duclay is a news intern at WSHU for the spring of 2024.
Sky Crabtree is a news intern at WSHU for the spring of 2024.
Desiree reports on the lives of military service members, veterans, and their families for WSHU as part of the American Homefront project. Born and raised in Connecticut, she now calls Long Island home.
A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.