From a young age Nick LaLota heard the calling to serve his community and country: first as a Navy man, later as a local elected official, and, as of January 3, as a member of the 118th Congress.
Chosen by the voters to represent New York’s First Congressional District, LaLota succeeds former Congressman Lee Zeldin in representing the East End. In a fierce campaign, LaLota was challenged in the primary and in the general election. Successful in both pursuits, LaLota secured over 55% of the vote in NY-01 on November 8, and has been entrusted with the duty of representing 700,000 hardworking Long Islanders.
“My campaign was focused on solving the tangible quality-of-life issues hurting Long Islanders — the cost of inflation, government overspending and a weak American energy policy; national security issues like the open border allowing criminal trafficking, fentanyl and drugs to flood our communities; and restoring accountability and integrity to Washington, D.C.,” he says. “I believe my message and commitment to working across the aisle to help all Long Island families resonated with voters, who are affected daily by these important and avoidable issues.”
Nationally speaking, Long Island’s congressional races were largely considered a bellwether for the political tides of the country. Republicans dominated elections on Long Island, especially in Suffolk County, which now returns a wholly Republican congressional delegation.
“The Republican House Majority can thank the focus New York Republican candidates’ campaigns maintained on the economy and public safety for the success we had on Election Day,” he says. “From the top of the ticket to those running for State Assembly, we all had a boost from our collective approach to the common-sense issues hitting voters in their wallets and our commitment to stopping the flow of fentanyl and restoring public safety.”
For LaLota, though, public service is not just a career, but a way of life. Raised by a family with police and military roots, LaLota secured one of the few, coveted appointments to the United States Naval Academy. After attending the prestigious institution, LaLota became a U.S. Navy surface warfare officer.
Throughout his military career, LaLota would serve in various leadership capacities, namely as assistant operations officer on the USS Curts and as a tactical action officer on the USS Carl Vinson. He would be awarded a Joint Service Commendation Medal for his efforts in the Global War on Terrorism.
LaLota would rise to the rank of lieutenant before his honorable discharge from the U.S. Navy in 2007.
“Through the campaign I talked about putting service over self and this was our way of life in the Navy,” he says. “I am optimistic that the many incoming members from both parties who have a professional military background come in with a slightly different perspective than some of our more partisan colleagues and an eagerness to work across the aisle to get the job done for our constituents and the nation as a whole.”
Upon his return to civilian life, LaLota would maintain his commitment to serving his community. He was chosen to assist in various positions for elected officials, first, as a chief of staff to a member of the New York State Senate. In this capacity, he would direct legislative initiatives, oversee constituent services and conduct community outreach.
As a force in local affairs, LaLota would transition to local government. Serving as the influential and high-profile commissioner of the Suffolk County Board of Elections, he assisted in streamlining access and securing election integrity.
Most recently, LaLota served as the chief of staff to the Suffolk County Legislature. Here, he would advise the presiding officer of the Legislature on various local matters. With in-depth knowledge of the inner workings of government, LaLota assisted in crafting a $3.7 billion budget that prioritized the taxpayer while offering outstanding services to Suffolk’s 1.5 million residents.
“Having a working knowledge of federal, state, county and village government will certainly be an asset to our residents and local municipalities,” he says. “And while the new district lines are expansive, I … am very much attuned with local and countywide issues and have a network of local governmental colleagues I can collaborate with on the ultimate goal of how to best serve our residents.”
In 2013, LaLota was appointed to the Amityville Board of Trustees. He would then successfully run for election and re-election in 2014 and 2015, respectively. During his tenure in this elected capacity, LaLota prioritized village services for the locality of 10,000. He would serve as the chairman of the Village Committee to the Police Department and the chairman of the Committee to the Fire Department.
Throughout his chairmanship of these committees, he bettered the local quality of life by tackling issues of public safety. He would lead a push to increase the number of uniformed members of the Amityville Police Department. He would also increase funding for first responders and fire services by 40%, refurbishing multiple ambulances and enabling volunteer firefighters to be equipped with the lifesaving gear they need to do their jobs.
“Public safety is a basic necessity,” he says. “All Long Islanders should have a reasonable expectation of living in a safe neighborhood, which is why we must work with, support and respect the role of law enforcement so they can most effectively serve and protect our communities. We need to talk about our border when discussing public safety, because the porous border is the root of many public safety issues we are facing; the open border is a national security issue and it must be closed before we can reasonably tackle the immigration, human trafficking and drug crises.”
Throughout the campaign, his district was the focus of much political punditry. Despite this, LaLota’s message of lower taxes, energy independence, secure elections and defense of the constitution clearly resonated with the voters.
“This was a hard-fought campaign but I ran to serve all residents of the First Congressional District, even if they didn’t vote for me, and I hope to gain the confidence of those who voted for my opponent through good, honest work to get results for our residents,” he says. “I am committed to my promise of working across the aisle to improve the lives of all Long Islanders.”
Now, though, is where the real work begins.
It is clear that LaLota is determined to hit the ground running. He has already identified respected and qualified community members to be part of his staff. LaLota, like all members of Congress, will open an office in the Capitol, and an office in district, to serve as a community resource.
“We are working on a permanent setup that includes an accessible flagship office near the highway in the Hauppauge area with satellite office hours in two locations more accessible to East End residents. Due to the previous NY-01 flagship office in Patchogue now being redistricted out of the district, we are temporarily taking over the previous NY-03 flagship office at 478 A Park Avenue in Huntington that is now located in NY-01,” LaLota says.
The congressman says he will “get to work on restoring American energy independence.”
“One of the root causes of the skyrocketing prices of wholesale and consumer goods is a failed energy policy that limits American energy production while putting a heavy reliance on our geopolitical adversaries for energy and items of basic necessity. I know American energy independence has bipartisan support because of the reception this idea got at “Meet the Candidates” forums in our communities,” LaLota says.
And, while the U.S. Capitol may be 317 miles away from Southampton, LaLota pledges to keep the needs of East Enders his main focus while serving in Congress.
Todd Shapiro is an award-winning publicist and associate publisher of Dan’s Papers.