by Rick Pezzullo –
State Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti (D/Mount Pleasant) is among a handful of individuals interested in possibly succeeding Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D/Westchester, Rockland), who announced last month she would not be running for re-election next year after 32 years in office.
Abinanti, 72, who is currently in his ninth year in the Assembly after serving 19 years as a Westchester County Legislator, said he would be putting together an exploratory committee but feels his record stacks up well against all other hopefuls.
“I’m interested in it. I’m looking at it,” Abinanti said. “I have a long record of serving this community. I think I have a lot to offer. I have a record of using government to make the lives better for people in Westchester County and New York State. I think I have as good a shot as anyone.”
Abinanti said he was surprised Lowey, 82, chairperson of the influential Appropriations Committee, decided to retire, believing she would run for another term in the 17th Congressional District and see what redistricting produced.
“Nita was a class act. She’s going to be a difficult act to follow,” he said. “I believe I have the understanding of our community and have a record of accomplishments. It’s a different animal, but it is still a Legislature. You have to know how to work in a collaborative fashion.”
Besides Abinanti, State Senator David Carlucci and former IDC member (D/Rockland), Assemblyman David Buchwald (D/White Plains), Mondaire Jones, a Rockland County attorney formerly with Westchester County’s Law Department, and Jo-Anna Rodriguez-Wheeler of Chappaqua, who has volunteered on campaigns stretching back to the Senate runs of Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton and was a Bernie Sanders delegate in 2016, have thrown their hats into the ring on the Democratic side. Allison Fine, local resident, activist, former Sleepy Hollow Trustee, author and creator of the non-profit, NEW (Network supporting Elected Women) will also be joining the race.
“You don’t want someone who is new to the community and who is new to the issues,” Abinanti said. “I know the Hudson River and this is a Hudson River district. I’m not afraid to take on the establishment. I think I would be a better advocate.”
Abinanti, chairman of the Assembly’s Oversight, Analysis and Investigation Committee, has been an advocate during his career of more services for people with special needs.
As a county legislator, he spearheaded a law that banned indoor smoking and a three-minute idling law, and supported legislation that clarified gun licensing.
He said he is especially concerned with clean drinking water, supports a single payer health care system and has been an outspoken about climate change.
“I have been at the forefront of issues,” Abinanti said.