If there was a common theme in Anthony D’Esposito’s career, it would be progression.
From police officer to New York Police Department detective. An 18-year-old volunteer firefighter to fire chief. And now Hempstead town councilman to congressman, the 40-year-old Island Park native describes looking back at his journey as a surreal experience.
“One of the first weeks of orientation, walking out of the Capitol building for the first time, walking down those steps and looking back you — it definitely makes you think, ‘How did I get here?’” D’Esposito said.
The congressman does not forget where he comes from, and who supported him along the way. Through his volunteerism and public service, he has made lifelong friends who never shy away from cheering him on. D’Esposito’s official in-district swearing in attracted hundreds of his loved ones, fellow elected officials, law enforcement colleagues and neighbors.
To the country, he is a U.S. congressman. But to the small, close-knit community of Island Park, D’Esposito is “still the same guy,” he said. He credits his experience as a first responder for shaping the person he is today.
“I’m not a lifelong politician,” D’Esposito said. “I’m someone that has had that real life experience — so much, if not all, of my adult life has really been centered around public service and the public safety world.”
He joined the NYPD in 2006, becoming a highly decorated detective with more than 600 arrests under his belt. He described working in some of the most violent communities — not just in New York, but across the nation.
D’Esposito pays homage to his law enforcement background with his signature logo of a police badge with an outline of Long Island in the center, and “NY-4” written on the bottom, for his congressional district.
“When creating our brand and what we are about, I don’t think anything really sums me up more than that shield,” D’Esposito said. “I’m proud to have worn the uniform.”
The Island Park Fire Department was known as a central location to “everything and anything that went on” in the neighborhood. As soon as he turned 18, D’Esposito signed on as a volunteer. By 2009, he was the fire department’s chief — one of the youngest to have been elected at the time. He was also the first person to run a second term as chief, and later ran for third assistant chief.
D’Esposito has proven his ability to move up the ranks and make his mark in the communities he served. Once he reached what he describes as “the pinnacle,” his first thought was not to slow down, but see what he could try next.
He was appointed to the Hempstead Town Board in 2016, taking over the seat formerly held by Anthony Santino. During his tenure, D’Esposito embedded himself in the community, established himself as an accessible figure day and night, and was even willing to work with those on the other side of the aisle.
At his congressional swearing-in ceremony — where former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato led the oath — D’Esposito made it clear his arm is extended to everyone and anyone who wants to help deliver for his constituents.
“I think the qualities of a good leader are making sure you’re at the forefront, being humble, always learning new things,” D’Esposito said. “But most importantly, you have the willingness to work and never mind getting your hands dirty.”