April 26, 2006
Congressional Race Draws New Face
Italo Zanzi, 32, officially announced his candidacy for U.S. Congress in New York's First Congressional District in Ronkonkoma last Friday. Seeking the Republican Party nomination, Zanzi would be facing stiff competition from Democratic Congressman Tim Bishop, 55, who is running for re-election.
Born in Port Jefferson and raised in Setauket, Zanzi has been renting an apartment in Smithtown since March 1. He registered to vote in Suffolk County on March 31.
Zanzi, an attorney, is also Vice President of International Broadcast Sales & Latin America / US Hispanic Marketing for Major League Baseball. He oversees MLB's international TV and radio sales, Latin American marketing, and sponsorship and US Hispanic marketing initiatives. He has also been a goalkeeper for the US National Handball team since 1997. His campaign for Congress will be Zanzi's first foray into politics, but he says his experience in the private sector will help him stick to the issues in the public one.
"I think in business you're forced to look at things in a very rational and direct way and you have to come up with the most efficient solutions for your company, which is essentially your constituency," he said.
If elected, Zanzi will be a fresh face on the scene, which he believes will work to his advantage because, "I think as you become a career politician, people often lose sight of their principle charge, which is to look after the social and economic well being and quality of their constituents."
Having never lived on the East End, the candidate admitted he is still learning about local matters and will be meeting with area officials to become better acquainted with the issues — chief among them, County Road 39 and day laborers.
"I'm well aware of the importance of the county road issues," said Zanzi, but he was unwilling to take a formal position until he gathers more specifics.
With the country highly focused on the issue of illegal immigration, a subject of great interest on the East End, Zanzi believes blocking illegal immigrants' access into the country is a critical component to securing the nation's borders.
"I think we have a chronic problem with illegal immigrants," said Zanzi, who is opposed to workforce housing and hiring halls, the latter of which has become a more prominent talking point locally in recent months.
"I don't think we should be rewarding people for breaking the law. Illegal immigration has to be treated in a race neutral way," he said. Zanzi noted that his parents "legally" immigrated to the United States from Chile.
Zanzi believes that in order to stem illegal immigration, government must first "secure all our borders . . . seal the valve," then punish the people who transport the immigrants. Employers who hire the undocumented workers should also be penalized. Lastly, Zanzi says the federal government must provide adequate resources to local authorities so that they may participate in preventing illegal immigrants from circumventing the law.
The congressional candidate also foresees the need to create "greater efficiency and integrity in government."
"I think there's a big problem with partisan politics," said Zanzi, who hopes he can help stem "corruption and unethical behavior in government" if he is elected. He also promises to seek lower federal taxes and to work to strengthen national security.
Zanzi has raised $40,050 — $30,557 of it is cash on hand. Bishop has raised $865,000 — $526,000 of which is cash on hand.
Bishop's spokesman Jon Schneider said that unlike Zanzi the two-term Congressman has strong ties to the community and has traditionally enjoyed the backing of several labor unions. He was also an integral part of keeping the Air National Guard's 106th Air Rescue Wing at Gabreski Airport in Westhampton, Schneider noted.