Joshua Sauberman wants to replace Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Suffolk, Nassau, Queens) in Congress. But the independent candidate doesn’t want to risk becoming beholden to powerful interests in order to win.
Like many progressive congressional candidates throughout the United States, Sauberman has pledged to not accept campaign donations from corporations or political action committees.
“Quite frankly, the rules of the game are such that if you take those corporate donations, you’re on the hook to return favors,” he said in a sitdown interview with the Chronicle’s editorial board earlier this month.
A former policy analyst for the United Nations, Sauberman grew up in Syosset, LI and Bayside.
He was born in Glen Oaks, one of the Queens neighborhoods in Suozzi’s district, which also includes Bay Terrace, Douglaston, Bellerose, Whitestone, Little Neck and parts of Nassau and Suffolk counties.
You may have seen him in Queens lately.
“I’ve knocked on hundreds of doors in Whitestone and Bellerose,” he said. “I’ve met all sorts of people.”
In addition to running an insurance company his family’s since sold, Sauberman has raised funds for documentaries about economic issues called “Inequality For All” and “Saving Capitalism.”
Prior to announcing that he was running as an independent in the 3rd Congressional District, the hopeful had been challenging Suozzi as a Democratic primary candidate.
As for why he changed course, Sauberman pointed to the different rules for gathering petition signatures required for independent candidates.
Although the candidate clarified that he remains a registered Democrat, he said a belief that played into his decision is his contention that the two major parties “don’t really stand for anything and if they do stand for something, it tends to be the same thing.” Sauberman said that as a whole, the two-party system isn’t responding effectively to the needs of working- and middle-class people.
A critic of economic inequality, he supports many policy positions that have been lauded by progressive groups.
“I’m looking to put a single payer system into effect that would ensure that every American has access to quality affordable care,” said Sauberman, who has endorsed the Medicare For All proposal.
In terms of foreign policy, the candidate says long, costly overseas U.S. military engagements like the ones in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria have had a draining effect on the economy at home.
“If we want to be serious about making sure that the American taxpayer is respected, then we need to pick our battles,” he said.
The psychological cost of war on American soldiers should also be considered, Sauberman added. He said his brother came back from serving in the Iraq War with severe post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Take that experience of one person, multiply it by the thousands of people that are still serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria ... and other places in the world,” he said.
Sauberman supports banning assault weapons and raising the minimum age for purchasing firearms to 21.
In the Queens section of the 3rd Congressional District, airplane noise is a major quality-of-life issue. The candidate says that bringing a Hyperloop path — an ultra-fast transportation system that would put mixed cargo and passengers in pods — that would link New York to other regional cities could help reduce the amount of air traffic here.
“Realistically, do we need planes to fly between New York and Philadelphia, for example?” he said.
Having a Hyperloop system that runs through cities like Boston, New York and Philadelphia could result in many people ditching taking planes that go from one to the other and instead opting for the fast train ride.
While supporters of single-payer healthcare may not be the likeliest group to discuss potential solutions to reducing the federal deficit, Sauberman says it’s an issue that seriously needs action.
“We need to reduce systematic waste within the federal government right now,” he said. As an example, Sauberman mentioned how the Department of Defense has been found responsible for $125 billion in wasteful spending.
According to Sauberman, federal agencies should be audited annually, and whether U.S. government contracts are fulfilled and done so on-time is another issue that deserves serious scrutiny.
Sauberman has raised a total of $7,007 in campaign funds, federal election filings show, with just $1,295 on hand.
The figures are tiny compared to the those of Suozzi, who has raised $1.68 million since taking office in January 2017. Government records show the congressman has $1.39 million in cash on hand.
Dan DeBono, a Republican who is also vying for the seat, has raised $200,565 and has $188,574 on hand.
Whatever challenges Sauberman’s financial disadvantage might pose for him, he says he doesn’t plan on “competing dollar-to-dollar” for donations with the incumbent, citing his opposition to accepting contributions from corporations.