While he may be a first-term congressman, U.S. Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-Sayville) is no stranger to fighting on behalf of Long Islanders. As a result of the redistricting process, he will also represent western communities in the Town of Southampton starting next year.
Garbarino is a South Shore native, born and raised in Sayville. A lifelong Republican, Garbarino is a lawyer by trade but has dedicated most of his adult life to public service. Since entering the halls of Congress, Garbarino has stayed true to his roots, fighting for local priorities, and putting the people of Long Island first.
Right off the bat he made veterans’ issues a top priority. One of the first pieces of legislation he introduced at the start of his term was one to address veteran suicide rates and just last month he announced plans to save veteran halls that have struggled during the pandemic. He has railed against anti-police policies, standing firm behind his stance during his campaign.
“I fully reject any and all calls to defund the police,” he says.
When small businesses fell victim to the pandemic, he worked to make relief funding more accessible and keep our local economy moving forward.
Garbarino was first elected to public office in 2013, succeeding then-Assemblyman Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore), who was elected to the New York State Senate. Garbarino was immediately identified as a “rising star” in the Legislature’s lower chamber, serving as an outspoken advocate for his constituents — his neighbors, really — in Sayville and the surrounding communities.
Then, in 2019, then-U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) — a political institution in every sense of the word — announced that he would not seek re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives, leaving the seat vacant. Garbarino announced his intention to pursue the open seat, with the endorsement of the 14-term congressman to replace him as the representative for New York State’s 2nd Congressional District.
The support of King, the Republican and Conservative parties and various other organizations — including local law enforcement — put him across the finish line victorious in November of 2020. Immediately thereafter, work began for the new congressman-elect, with the major goal of making sure that his constituents’ voices are heard in the “People’s House.”
Some things changed for Garbarino turning from assemblyman to congressman. His number of constituents, for example, grew six-fold: from approximately 97,000 in the Assembly to over 700,000 in Congress. His district, which remains largely the Long Island’s South Shore, also expanded. Now, Garbarino serves the residents of both Nassau and Suffolk counties, with diverse communities of everyday Long Islanders and working Americans.
Garbarino’s passion for his job, though, remained the same. His commitment to public service — founded on a sense of responsibility to his constituents, his community, his country, and its principles — also remained a pillar.
This was recognized by his colleagues in Congress, which is why he — like his predecessor, King — was selected to serve on the House Committee on Homeland Security. Garbarino was also appointed the committee’s ranking member on its cybersecurity subcommittee, a topic which is fresh on the minds of Long Islanders and Americans alike amidst the recent conflict in Ukraine. Over the last week, Long Islanders may have seen his messages urging them to take steps to protect themselves from potential cyberattacks, all while taking action to strengthen the cybersecurity of the nation.
While the threat of cyber crimes seems abstract to many of us, Garbarino has become a leader on the issue and in his effort to keep Long Islanders safe from this threat, he has proposed introducing the topic into our children’s school curriculum.
“By incorporating cybersecurity into our school’s curriculum, alongside core subjects like math and science, we will be able to bring up the next generation with a strong foundation to not only protect themselves individually from cybercrimes, but also to inspire greater participation in the cybersecurity workforce,” he says. “Cyber attacks are the next frontier in the great power competition with China and Russia and we must act now to mitigate this threat and build resilience throughout our citizenry.”
He made it a priority to fight for border security, recently completing his second trip to the nation’s southern border, where he met with border patrol agents, visited migrant facilities and toured the border, which has remained the focus of national political discourse.
Bringing a strong foundation of experience with him to Washington, D.C., Congressman Garbarino hit the ground running and is quickly emerging as a powerful and influential member of the House of Representatives. He is lauded by many on both sides of the political aisle as being “common sense.” His approach to politics is one of the many reasons he joined the Problem Solvers Caucus, which works to bridge the political divide in Congress and get things done.
Garbarino now serves New York in Washington rather than Albany, but he has remained engrained in local issues and vocal in the same. Holding hundreds of constituent meetings, speaking with residents and business leaders. He keeps his finger on the pulse and is aware of the needs of local residents. The leadership he has displayed during just over a year in Congress shows us exactly the kind of representative he’ll be in the future.
Todd Shapiro is an award-winning publicist and associate publisher of Dan’s Papers.