"If we want to change some things in Washington, we have to change some of the people," said Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos.
Maragos is doing his part to change Washington by shaking hands at county fairs across the state and talking to political leaders as part of a run for the U.S. Senate.
The former businessman is seeking the seat currently occupied by two-term Sentator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who is up for re-election 2012 after being named by then Gov. David Patterson to take Hillary Clinton's place when Clinton was named Secretary of State.
A primary could pit the first term comptroller against longtime conservative political consultant Jay Townsend of Cornwall-on-Hudson, according to Federal Election Commission filings. Townsend managed his first statewide political campaign more than 30 years ago, and has worked in four presidential campaigns.
Maragos counts himself as one of the people who could get the job done as a U.S. Senator, touting his business experience and ability to compromise.
"Washington is more dysfunctional now than it was four years ago," he said. "I think I could be very instrumental in convincing people to take the right position."
Maragos, a resident of the Russell Gardens section of Great Neck, is the founder and former chief executive officer of SDS Financial Technologies, an organization that provides financial information and online trading services to the financial industry.
He has more than 35 years experience in senior management in the banking, consulting, and information systems. He previously served as vice president of Citicorp, director for telecommunications for Treasury Systems, and was a vice president at Chase Manhattan Bank.
Maragos first demonstrated his interest in the Senate in 2009 just four months after being elected county comptroller, when he made a brief exploratory bid to take on U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.
He faces an uphill battle this time around as well. According to federal election records, Maragos has $100,000 in cash on hand, compared to Gillibrand's $5.8 million.
Maragos said he supports raising the debt ceiling in exchange for spending cuts, cutting subsidies for oil companies, and bringing home the troops, which would save $200 billion per year he would reinvest in "rebuilding America."
As part of his plan to create jobs, Maragos would simplify the tax code, removing tax breaks for special interests. He would replace them with incentives for new manufacturing and green jobs, such as "almost no taxation."
He would vote to repeal the health care law, which he said is destroying jobs and raising costs for local governments, and enforce intellectual property rights laws by prosecuting manufacturers who sell goods in the U.S. that violate those laws.
"It's amazing to me that we are treating China like it's a Third World country," he said. "We need to stand up and protect our workers and our jobs."
Maragos would like to see the United Stated declare energy independence within a decade, using "primarily" renewable resources.
"I think we have to have a debate about nuclear [energy]," he said.
He said he believes in evolution but thinks the jury is still out on global warming. He said marriage is between a man and a woman, but respects the recently passed Marriage Equality Act.
"Some people would even like to marry with their pets," he said, worried that the legalization of gay marriage could also lead to the legalization of polygamy.
He is against abortion, except to preserve the life of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest.
He said people across the state have responded very well to his message, even in Democratic strongholds in Manhattan where "they are surprised to see a Republican."
"I think I'm going to win," he said. "I think it's going to be a close race. I have tremendous energy."
Maragos holds a master's degree in business administration from Pace University in New York City and a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering Degree from McGill University in Montreal.
He has been married for 36 years to Angela and has two sons and one granddaughter.