“Mr. Speaker, you can end this madness right now,” said Aidan Davis ’26 on the steps of Congress in early February, as quoted in a CBS News article.
Davis, a resident of New York’s third congressional district which is represented by Congressman George Santos, has been active in calling for Santos’s removal from office.
In recent months, Santos has faced various allegations of fraud, including lying on his resume, deceiving the public about his personal life, and being unable to account for various expenditures throughout his career.
Following these discoveries, Long Island resident Jody Kass Finkel founded Concerned Citizens of NY-03 (CC-03). This non-partisan, ad hoc group comprises constituents from New York’s third congressional district of Nassau County, Long Island, N.Y. The group organizes around a clear goal: getting George Santos removed from office.
Long Island residents, including current Princeton students and alumni, have linked arms as part of this organization.
Davis, an active participant in Princeton College Democrats, is a leader in CC-03 and manages the group’s social media. Davis is involved because of his belief in the importance of removing Santos from office and restoring “proper representation to New York 3.”
As a student at Princeton, Davis faces different challenges than the rest of the group in terms of balancing his activism with life at Princeton, struggles which he discussed in-depth in a recent op-ed in the Daily Princetonian.
“The main steering committee is mostly adults. I’m the only kid there, which is one of the reasons why I help run social media,” Davis said.
According to Davis, all citizens, regardless of political affiliation, should be invested in Santos’s removal. “The George Santos that the people elected wasn’t real,” he said. “He misrepresented his background to such a degree that we don’t even know if George Santos is his real name.”
Emily Raphael, a Long Island resident member of the group’s steering committee, emphasized the non-partisan nature of the group: “This is not about attacking Santos because a Republican was elected; it’s about his unfitness for office. And what we’re specifically about is getting him out of there.”
CC-03 published its first press release on Jan. 2, calling for other members of the district and beyond to join them in their fight. Since then, CC-03 has spoken with numerous local representatives and pressured members of the New York Republican delegation to urge for Santos’s expulsion. The group has attended press conferences with Congressman Ritchie Torres, Congressman Dan Goldman, and other local leaders in the district.
On Tuesday, Feb. 7, the group took a bus to D.C. to deliver a petition with approximately 1500 signatures to House offices.
They were denied by both Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Congressman Santos’s offices. The constituents also called for Santos’s immediate removal, standing on the steps of Congress.
Thus far, CC-03’s campaign has succeeded in attracting significant attention and support.
While the group’s steering committee is composed of only 11 district members, its Facebook page has over 900 followers, many of whom are involved participants. The group has also received attention from the media, including CBS News.
Like Raphael, Davis noted the extensive media coverage the group has received. “The images of us, 50 of Santos’s constituents in the halls of the house office buildings, were striking. We got a lot of media coverage on that,” he said.
Davis wants students to know that it’s “important to be active in creating the world you want to see and fighting for your representation.” He noted that Americans are becoming increasingly anxious about systems of democracy in an era of “weakening social fabric across the board.”
More recently, the group has been working on a postcard campaign to raise awareness about Santos across the country and garner support.
Eli Lefcowitz, who graduated from Georgetown University in 2022 with a degree in Political Science and Government, is another young person who has been heavily involved in CC-03.
The group is intergenerational, though Lefcowitz noted that younger people have been less heavily involved. “They’re a lot more apathetic,” said Lefcowitz. “So it is my job to try to convince them that … apathy is not an ideology.”
Rather than chastising youth for being politically inactive, Lefcowitz attempts to show them simple ways to push for change and described the George Santos controversy as the perfect cause around which young people can activate.
Princeton alumnus Alan Klinger ’78 and his wife Susan Wagner have also played major roles in CC-03. Both are New York-based lawyers who have held various positions in the public sector and have been politically active since college.
Klinger and Wagner also spoke out against political apathy on college campuses. Klinger noted, “It’s important that people realize that your college years are special … There’s more to college life than just the classes you take and the grades you get.”
Klinger explained that he hardly remembers an Anthropology class he took in college, but distinctly recalls the sit-in outside of Nassau Hall in response to the South African apartheid in the 1970s.
“I know that grades can be very important depending on what you want to do next, but people shouldn’t let that be the be-all and end-all of their college experiences,” Klinger added.
Wagner agreed that students must make time for activism, even in their busy academic and extracurricular schedules. Wagner noted that when she was in college, “activism was considered for certain people who were interested in it, and it’s what we used to call ‘radical.’”
In today’s world, however, Wagner does not think politics can be a “spectator sport.” Speaking to students, she said, “Your generation can’t afford to sit on the sidelines. You have to be activists because as soon as you get out of college and grad school, the real world is going to hit you, and you have to really care what kind of environment you raise your children in.”
As Davis put it, “I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but it’s important.”
Raphaela Gold is a staff Features writer for the ‘Prince.’ Please direct any correction requests to corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.