Port ‘s Melanie D’Arrigo says she wants to bring the Democratic party back to its FDR roots

Port ‘s Melanie D’Arrigo says she wants to bring the Democratic party back to its FDR roots
Melanie D'Arrigo of Port Washington

Port Washington progressive activist Melanie D’Arrigo says this upcoming election is a chance to focus on prioritizing money and reinvesting it into communities as she bids for the 3rd Congressional District. 

D’Arrigo, who says she represents the “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party working hard to bring this party back to its FDR roots,” held a virtual town hall with Blank Slate Media in late April speaking on a number of issues, both nationally as locally.

D’Arrigo is seeking the Democratic nomination in the district, a seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove). 

“Every policy I fight for is centered on uplifting working and middle-class families,” D’Arrigo said. “My policy positions are solution-oriented and they tackle the problem. I have a philosophy which is to do the most good and everything I support is in that vein.”

Regarding bail reform, D’Arrigo said she supports the reforms and considers them important civil rights legislation. On the overall issue of public safety, the Port Washington resident believes that investing in the community such as green spaces, education and healthcare for example would tackle the root cause of crime.

“We’ve defunded a lot from education, our schools and our police budgets keep growing,” D’Arrigo said. “I think there is a movement where most folks are saying if we’re going to have one budget with only a certain amount of money, we need to prioritize where we’re putting it.”

D’Arrigo first ran for Congress in 2020, competing against incumbent U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) and Great Neck attorney Michael Weinstock in the Democratic primary for the 3rd Congressional District. While Suozzi won the primary and ultimately the general election, D’Arrigo received 25.7 percent of the primary vote.

A native of Lindenhurst, D’Arrigo graduated from Barnard College and earned a Master of Science degree from the School of Health Professions at Long Island University, and later worked as an allied health professional for health care companies Optum and Cigna.

For the first quarter of 2022, D’Arrigo raised $71,417.66 while disbursing $90,334.05. By March 31, she had $97,259.59 cash on hand and had raised $297,296.85 during her campaign according to Federal Election Commission filings. 

State and Nassau Democratic Chair Jay Jacobs has been critical of prominent progressives such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her overall policies, but D’Arrigo said she believes despite previous comments and the recent red wave in November throughout Long Island there are ways to establish progressive support.

She said in Southold, a Suffolk County town, candidates were “open and unapologetically progressive” while speaking about climate change and the Green New Deal, for example. She says it’s an example that at the municipal level Long Islanders are open for a different perspective.

“I am hoping to breathe a fresh breath into the party and run on democratic values,” D’Arrigo said. “That’s what this campaign is about we’re running on issues that will improve material conditions for families in real-time.”

D’Arrigo supports Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, campaign finance reform, immigration reform, student loan forgiveness and free public education, among others. So far, she has been endorsed by the National Organization for Women PAC, Brand New Congress, Her Bold Move, Empire State Indivisible, Moms in Office and Progressive Women of NY, among others.

“These programs are very much in the vein of the FDR spirit and would absolutely be a huge boon to the middle class and we can actually build an economy from the worker on up instead of the top-down, which is what has happened for decades now,” D’Arrigo said.

D’Arrigo applauded President Joe Biden for his cautious approach to the Russian invasion of Ukraine while avoiding the country’s involvement in another war. She said she is in favor of peace and sending humanitarian aid as well as supplies but she wants the United States to do everything it can to de-escalate the situation rather than exacerbate it. 

“If we escalate to a certain point, we might as well start the war ourselves and I think that’s what we’re trying to balance here,” D’Arrigo said. “It’s not an easy decision nor should anyone take it lightly, I think we have to be as supportive as we can.”

D’Arrigo’s rivals for the Democratic primary on June 28 include former North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman, Nassau County Legislator Joshua Lafazan, state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, Oyster Bay’s Reema Rasool and longtime Democratic National Committee member Robert Zimmerman. 

While she lacks experience in political office, D’Arrigo said she’s represented her community for many years and has worked with elected officials on garnering support for many pieces of legislation. 

“I co-founded an LGBTQ nonprofit in the Town of North Hempstead and we organized the very first Pride celebration in the town’s history. We have now created a more inclusive environment for many of our families and our town is better for it,” D’Arrigo said. “I have fought for healthcare, I have fought for immigrant rights and in our town and throughout our district, I have fought for climate action. And I think the notion that I haven’t worked in government because I haven’t served is a false one because frankly, as an organizer, you work with multiple levels of government to try to advocate and pass policy.”

D’Arrigo’s virtual town hall with Blank Slate Media can be seen on our YouTube channel.


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