DIX HILLS, N.Y. (AP) - When Joe Finley was 10 years old, his
father was one of a dozen firefighters killed in a blaze that at
the time was the single largest tragedy for the New York City fire
department.
Finley followed in his father's footsteps, and 35 years later,
raced to the World Trade Center from his Long Island home after
watching on TV as the twin towers tumbled.
Now Finley, 46, says stopping terrorism is his top priority as
the Republican candidate in the 2nd Congressional District.
"We need somebody in Washington to do something about it, like
secure our borders," Finley said. "Five of the people that
attacked us that day were on terrorist watch lists. I mean, there
are a lot of things that should have been taken care of."
The soft-spoken Northport resident is retiring from the fire
department, blaming lung damage from his days working at ground
zero in the aftermath of Sept. 11.
"It's sort of like an asthma condition," he said. "I can't go
into burning buildings any more, but it's not life threatening."
Finley faces a tough fight against Democratic Rep. Steve Israel,
who has raised more than $1 million for a reelection bid and has
built a strong record in his first term.
Israel has also been a supporter for the families of Sept. 11
victims; 102 people from his district were killed in the World
Trade Center attack.
"I think that we have an obligation to respect and honor Mr.
Finley and Mr. Keenan for what they did as firemen on 9-11,"
Israel said of Finley and Green Party candidate John Keenan,
another 9-11 veteran.
"In every election I've ever run, I've focused on my record, my
position, my visions, my specific records of accomplishments,"
Israel said. "In this case, I'm going to talk about what I've done
on national security, but also on economic security and ... ask the
voters to grade me on those specific achievements."
The GOP is planning some fund-raisers on Finley's behalf and
Suffolk County Republican Chairman Tony Apollaro said he thinks
donations to Finley's campaign will build shortly after Labor Day.
Finley says more firefighters should run for office.
"The captains of industry are raping and pillaging people who
work for a living, people who saved their entire lives for their
retirement," he said. "Greed overtook them ... So, we need people
in industry, we need people in business, we need people in politics
with integrity and that's what firefighters bring.