Victoria’s Diary: Call to Action

In front of “Lucy” with Darlene Puntillo (Long Island Aquarium), Kristy Verity (Riverhead BID), Bob Kern (Riverhead Chamber of Commerce President), Yvette Aguiar (Riverhead Town Supervisor), Leucio Iacobelli (Montauk Distilling Co.), Brian Brady (Montauk Distilling Co.) and Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller.

Since Josh and I acquired the iconic, 60-year-old Dan’s Papers, I’ve been on a listening tour meeting many leaders on the East End of Long Island.

There is something truly magical about that piece of our world surrounded by the ocean on one side and the Long Island Sound on the other.

To help bring visitors to the area during the winter, Dan’s Papers will sponsor — with the cooperation of the town supervisors on the East End — a public art space experience, which will invite 20 sculptors to show their work in the business districts of the area.

I remember the great success of the CowParade in New York City. It brought many tourists and residents to ogle the artists’ stellar works. What better a way to brighten the winter!

Dan’s Papers will be putting out a call for submissions and a map for our readers to follow the drive-through sculpture show. Stay tuned for details!

This week, I visited the Montauk Distilling Co. in Riverhead, heard leaders in business and health share information at John Catsimatidis’ Power Breakfast at NAIA restaurant in Southampton. I also heard the concerns of business leaders about doing business in the winter months of January, February and March — the quietest time on the East End.

At Montauk Distilling Co., I had fun visiting “Lucy,” the unique piece of equipment that is the centerpiece of the newly opened distillery. It is the brainchild of Whitestone resident Leucio Lacobelli, who produces vodka, bourbon, gin, rum and whiskey, all crafted with corn farmed from nearby Calverton!

He is part of the renaissance Riverhead, a town I visited often during my late husband’s life as an attorney and as a partner at Scheinberg, Schneps, DePetris & DePetris in the 1970s and 1980s.

My return to that town decades later brought a big smile to my face. I visited with Riverhead’s proud Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar, who is planning to build a new town center. She is presiding over the growth of the town’s tourism, which includes many go-to destinations, including the Long Island Aquarium on Main Street and several fabulous restaurants, such as the historic Preston House Restaurant and superb Italian eatery, Michelangelo of Riverhead.

Saturday morning, I spoke at John Catsimatidis’ Power Breakfast, where I was joined and impressed with Jodi Giglio, who is running for New York State Assembly in the Second District, which includes Riverhead.

Riverhead’s Jodi Giglio speaking at John Catsimatidis’ Power Breakfast.

She is a strong, self-made businesswoman who also wears hats as a wife, mother and community leader. She has shown her passion for business and development of her beloved hometown.

A busy but enlightening week of meeting great people ended on the weekend with kisses from my grandchildren.

There are a few people in the political world who have made a decision to serve and not just enjoy the benefits of their position.

Many remember late former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman, who was a dedicated public servant who put more shovels in the ground and created more projects than any other borough president in the history of Queens.

Suozzi earned our vote

Why I love Tom Suozzi, who is running for re-election for Congress, is that I feel he’s made from the same cloth as Claire and is a true public servant. Coming from Glen Cove on Long Island as a political leader — both as mayor of Glen Cove, then as Nassau County executive — he knew little about Queens. But he is a fast learner and has become a great friend and leader to the northeast Queens communities that he serves.

While Tom was a Nassau County man, he reached out and embraced the people of Queens when he first ran for Congress. He came and conquered the hearts and minds of his would-be constituents in Queens, won the election, and has stayed involved over his many years of service to us.

As we navigate the coronavirus pandemic, I’m glad that he has a seat at the table on the White House’s Opening Up America Again Congressional Group. He is the only Democrat from the New York delegation and one of only 10 Democrats in the nation to serve on the task force.

These are the most challenging times I have ever seen, and with Tom representing us, I know we have a man who devoted his whole life to public service and who cares about the citizens he serves.

His peers have recognized his integrity, energy and passion, which has earned him spots on several committees dedicated to helping people. We need him to continue his work.

He received an A+ rating from the Queens Presidents’ Co-op and Condo Council (PCCC) in May for his work on behalf of the co-op community and the 70,000 units of co-op housing represented by the organization. During the coronavirus pandemic, Suozzi has led several efforts to fight for co-ops and condos throughout his district.

A frequent visitor to his constituents in Queens, he was on the streets of Bayside and Little Neck handing out thousands of much-needed PPE to residents.

As former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Tip O’Neill said many years ago, “all politics is local.” Tom personifies that. He knows the importance of being seen and heard and he uses his power for the good of his constituents. To put it simply: he gets it. He has served us well and deserves to be re-elected.

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