Local elected officials and members of Malvernite Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick’s family gathered at Chester A. Reese Veterans Memorial Park on June 30 as she announced her candidacy for the seat in the 21st District of the State Assembly. A Republican, Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick will challenge the Democratic incumbent, Judy Griffin.
Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick, 54, a former village trustee and deputy mayor, said she hoped to bring an independent voice that would represent residents of the district. An attorney who has four children, she said she chose to run to bring about change for future generations.
“As a resident of the 21st Assembly District, it has been extremely frustrating to sit back and hear about what’s going on in Albany,” Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick said. “I can’t sit by quietly any longer.”
Among her top priorities, if elected, is to provide taxpayer relief and to push for the safety of Long Island residents amid the state’s bail reform bill, which took effect in January, which eliminated cash bail for roughly 90 percent of cases and released most defendants accused of nonviolent crimes on their own recognizance. She said she also hoped to be a strong voice against defunding police.
“Defunding the police will result in a rise in crime, increase in response time and making our communities and Long Islanders less safe,” Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick said. “Our police departments are the main reason our communities are safe, and they do more than most people know for our residents on a daily basis. They deserve our support.”
Griffin told the Herald on Monday that she fully opposed defunding police. “Both my opponent and our neighbors know that,” Griffin said in a statement. “I’m planning to run for re-election on my record and I plan to continue the good work we’ve done for the South Shore — working across party lines to secure almost 1.3 million in funding for schools, villages, police and fire departments, veteran halls and local nonprofit organizations.”
Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick noted a recent report from the Nassau County Police Department on the effects of bail reform in the first quarter of 2020. Of the roughly 3,500 people arrested and released without bail, nearly 10 percent were arrested again, many for major crimes involving drugs, she said.
“This is clearly evidence of the detrimental effect of bail reform on our county,” she said.
Malverne Police Chief John Aresta said that he worked alongside Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick during her years as a liaison to the Police Department. While they didn’t always agree on things, Aresta said, he thought that her ability to listen and consider different perspectives made her a great decision maker.
“We desperately need her to be up in Albany to lend her voice and hopefully to be heard,” Aresta said. “I’ve never seen law enforcement and good citizens under attack as they are now. We need a candidate who is going to fight for us, and who’s going to listen to law enforcement.”
Her father, Joseph Canzoneri, a former Malverne mayor, noted that New York state has the led the country in the number of residents moving away for the past three years. He said he hoped his daughter could be a leader in helping to reverse that trend.
“We need a representative in Albany who will strive to return New York back to being the Empire State,” Canzoneri said. “Patricia is exactly what the 21st Assembly District needs.”
Patti Ann McDonald, another former village mayor, worked with Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick when she served as a trustee from 2011 to 2018. McDonald, who said she would also endorse her in the Assembly race, recalled that she urged Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick to run for village trustee shortly after her husband, James Callahan, died in 2011.
“Even though she had never served as a public official before, she accepted it and excelled,” McDonald said. “When my deputy mayor Joseph Hennessey passed away, I asked her to step up to become deputy mayor, as I saw great potential for her ability to succeed at whatever challenge stood in front of her.”
Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick said that her years of serving the village with McDonald helped her to understand the importance of fiscal responsibility while being able to meet the community’s needs. ”I hope to bring that practical experience to Albany to cut wasteful spending and to fight for our residents,” she said. “Changing Albany is not going to be easy, but it starts with this race.”