Albany politics can be overwhelming to a newcomer, but newly elected State Sen. Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick is focusing on what comes naturally to her — local government and getting to know people.
Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick, a Republican, is the new representative of the 9th Senate District, which encompasses Malverne, Lynbrook and several other communities. But she is certainly no newcomer to politics, having previously served as deputy mayor and trustee in Malverne. Her father, Joseph Canzoneri, is a former Malverne mayor.
Among Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick’s top priorities is advocating for local issues by reaching across the aisle to build relationships with Democrats.
“I do believe that local government, village governments in particular, are the most efficient forms of government,” Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick said. “It’s as grass-roots as it gets. They typically provide a great number of services at a very reasonable cost.”
However, Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick’s first priority is to find a location for her district office. Because of the redistricting of the state’s Senate map, the Rockville Centre office used by Democrat Todd Kaminsky, who retired from public office, is now outside the redrawn 9th Senate District boundaries.
Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick has been named ranking member of the Senate’s Consumer Protection and Mental Health committees. She also serves on the committees for Environmental Conservation, Judiciary, Legislative Women’s Caucus, and Women’s Issues.
Since Democrats hold supermajorities in both the Senate and Assembly, legislation won’t advance without Democrat sponsors. Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick said she has spent her brief time in Albany thus far establishing relationships with Democrats so she is able to co-sponsor important bills that would positively impact the 9th District.
One of her goals is to amend the Real Property Tax Law that allows local governments to give a 10 percent property tax exemption to volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers. Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick said she wants to give the same exemption to volunteer police reserves and auxiliary police.
“I know how important our police reserves and police auxiliaries are in Nassau County,” she said. “They do an awful lot to assist our police forces and allow us to have these feel-good activities that make our communities so welcoming. It would be a small ‘thank you’ for the hours and hours of service they put in.”
As a ranking member of the Mental Health Committee, Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick is eager to work with school districts and outreach organizations that provide help to teenagers and younger children. A mother of four, Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick said she is intimately aware of the need for mental health interventions.
Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick said the issues teenagers dealt with during Covid-19 and from social media require more assistance.
“I think they’re all suffering in different ways, and those issues need to be addressed,” she said.
A recent bill advancing through state government would fund more research about suicides in children. “I was shocked to see that suicide is affecting kids as young as 5 years old,” she said. “As a mom and knowing what our kids are going through, it’s a very important issue.”
She said she sees the youth’s constant use of cell phones, internet and social media, and said her kids poke fun at her for not being technologically savvy, giving her more insight into the mental health needs of children.
“They laugh at me all the time when I say certain things or take a picture the wrong way,” Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick said. “’Oh, mom! That’s a terrible picture!’ and I laugh at it. Our kids have become accustomed to these things. Wouldn’t it be beautiful for them to become accustomed to feeling that it’s OK to ask for help?”
Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick said she also plans to address bail reform by giving judges more discretion during hearings. In addition, she wants to reduce tax burdens on local businesses, adjust the MTA’s congestion pricing, and provide constituent services for anyone in need.
As Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick continues to get her office up and running, she said she would continue to rely on her vast experience in local government. And her focus remains being successful so she can help people of the 9th Senate District.
“It’s been an exciting month up there,” she said. “Being successful in Albany is about building relationships, and I think I’m off to a good start. You have to work across the aisle to get things done. It’s about serving the constituents.”