For an hour, Republican Mazi Pilip and Democrat Tom Suozzi, who are in a tight race for New York’s 3rd Congressional District, sparred over policy and politics in their only debate of the special House election.

The district covers parts of Queens and Nassau County.

Suozzi, a former congressman, pitched himself as a seasoned politician with government know-how.

Pilip, a Nassau County legislator, argued that she can deliver where Suozzi had failed when he was in office.

What You Need To Know

  • Republican Mazi Pilip, a Nassau County legislator, criticized Suozzi for failing to deal with border security and tax issues when he was in Congress

  • Democrat Tom Suozzi, a former Congressman, pitched himself as a seasoned politician with government know-how who can make deals, while criticizing Pilip as inexperienced and too vague on policy

  • Polls show the race is a toss-up, with Suozzi holding a slight lead within the margin of error

On the bipartisan U.S. Senate deal on border security, Suozzi supported it and criticized Pilip for opposing it.

“She has no solutions whatsoever, just, there’s a problem, there’s a problem, oh, by the way, it’s a really big problem — that’s not enough,” Suozzi said. “That’s not how you govern, that’s not how you get things done.”

Pilip retorted, “It’s amazing, you’re coming up with solutions — you created this issue, you were there, you were in charge of this problem, Tom. Admit this.”

The same argument played out on lifting the cap on federal deductions for state and local taxes — an important issue on Long Island.

“You promised, never deliver. When I promise, I deliver,” Pilip said.

Suozzi shot back, “‘How are you going to do it? Tell me how you do it? How?’”

Throughout the town hall debate, Suozzi kept pressing Pilip on details of her policy positions.

On abortion rights, Pilip said: “I’m not going to force my own belief to any woman, therefore, I’m not going to support a national abortion ban, therefore, I’m not going to risk woman’s right.”

Suozzi responded: “I’m asking you very clearly, ‘are you pro-choice?’”

Meanwhile, the downfall of George Santos, who was expelled from Congress as he faces federal charges for exploiting his campaign for his own financial benefit, still hangs over the district.

“Santos did major damage to our reputation as a voting bloc,” one voter said, asking how the candidates would restore integrity and civic responsibility to the role.

Suozzi took the opportunity to tie Pilip to Santos.

“We’ve seen that you don’t have specifics on many different things, that’s why debates are important, so people can fully vet the candidates and understand what they stand for, clear as day - not five days before the election,” Suozzi said.

Pilip said she had called on Santos to resign and responded to Suozzi, saying, “It’s so sad for you to stand here and questioning my experience, my credibility. Everything I shared in my life, everything I did is all correct, and nothing I hide and I was available for voters.”

Early voting is already underway, and Election Day is set for Tuesday, Feb. 13.