There is an urgency surrounding the November 6 election and it has little to do with local and state races but the sense that these midterms for Congress will likely be considered historic. They either will place or retain in office members of Congress who will stand in support or look the other way while divisive policy and often damaging statements are made by President Donald J. Trump; or they will install members willing to stand up to a president who appears willing to do whatever it takes to retain power, even if it flies in the face of decency and even the Constitution.
During a taped debate on LTV last week, Lee Zeldin, the Republican congressman seeking his third term in office, showed flashes of independence from President Trump, stopping just short of criticizing the President’s Twitter feed as acrimonious and unhelpful, and disagreeing over policy including off-shore oil drilling in the Atlantic. However, his behavior and record over the last two years shows a congressman eager for Mr. Trump’s approval, and, like many members of the Republican-controlled Congress, unwilling to call him out for dangerous rhetoric aimed squarely at immigrants, at a free press and virtually any group deemed critical.
We question Mr. Zeldin’s take on immigration enforcement, particularly since he represents a district with a large legal and illegal immigrant population and an economy dependent on that workforce. While he voted against the GOP tax bill due to its damaging reduction in the deductibility of property taxes — a major blow for many middle-class residents on Long Island — he has not mounted an aggressive effort to see that repealed.
Mr. Zeldin’s concealed-carry weapon law would allow residents from states where it’s legal to carry a concealed semi-automatic handgun to do so in New York. Also, we remain unconvinced he would not support rollbacks in Social Security or Medicare. Mr. Zeldin states repeatedly that current seniors and those just about to retire should rest easy, but that’s no comfort for those in their 30s and early 40s who may have been paying into the system for decades.
The First Congressional District has long been a bastion of differing political views. It has the power to place a candidate in the House of Representatives who will be a part of the checks and balances the Founding Fathers expected of the three branches of government. Democrat Perry Gershon is that candidate.
Mr. Gershon is not nearly as practiced in the art of politics as his rival, but his campaign largely revolved around issues critical for residents in the First Congressional District including climate change, health care, looking at ways to increase infrastructure spending, and how to create a reasonable path forward for citizenship for immigrants. He also remains committed to protecting Social Security and Medicare benefits and not just for current retirees. Mr. Gershon believes in gun control, but supports the second amendment right to bear arms.
Perhaps most important, he will be a vocal representative for the East End, one who does not feel beholden to President Trump, but understands part of his job is to sit watch over whoever sits in that office and how he or she uses power, no matter the political party.
In East Hampton
When it comes to local office, the best candidates are often the ones who work beyond party lines, even when doing so proves risky and unpopular, prioritizing what is best for the town and its residents over the wishes of local political committees. In the race for a one-year term on the East Hampton Town Board, one candidate has already proven his priorities will remain independently focused on decisions that will best serve the town and has shown a willingness to rise above petty party politics.
David Lys, running on the Democratic, Working Families and East Hampton Unity Party lines, was appointed councilman by a majority of the wholly Democratic town board in January. Since then, he has shown a willingness to break ranks with the majority that voted to support his candidacy and took the high road in what became one of the messiest and politically-charged primary and election seasons in East Hampton in recent memory.
The Republican candidate, Manny Vilar, is certainly affable and comes with a significant amount of experience when it comes to labor relations and negotiation. However, it appears the main pitch from his campaign revolves around the need to have a Republican on the town board, in an effort to bring balance to that body. While certainly a valid argument, it is a hard pitch to make when running against a candidate like Mr. Lys, whose appointment — in part — divided the local Democratic committee because of some of his more conservative views.
A local businessman who was raised in East Hampton and the son of an immigrant, Mr. Lys represents an important, and under-represented demographic in the town — the patriarch of a young family in perhaps the last generation that will be able to call their hometown ‘home’ amid the rising cost of housing and the continued lack of robust employment opportunities. A preservationist with an extensive knowledge of local history, Mr. Lys is committed to protecting the environment, but is well-aware of the fact that affordable housing and economic development will need to be at the top of the town board’s agenda if the next generation is to thrive in East Hampton. Achieving a balance between development and preservation has long been the tightrope board members in East Hampton Town have had to walk, and it’s a challenge he appears best equipped to take on.
For State Senate and Assembly
Both Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. of the Independence Party and Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, a Republican, are running for reelection after 23 years in Albany for Mr. Thiele and 42 for Mr. LaValle. Both have done a consistently good job serving their districts over the years, often working together to create landmark legislation and shepherd through projects.
Mr. Thiele has proven one of the most effective government leaders for his constituency, delivering time and time again on legislation that specifically aids the East End, often with the support of Mr. LaValle.
We don’t agree with Mr. LaValle, the senior member of the New York State Senate, on every issue. It’s hard to fathom why he opposes bolstering the state’s outdated protections for women’s rights; he didn’t explain it at a recent League of Women Voters debate in Hampton Bays. But neither his challenger, Greg Fischer, nor Mr. Thiele’s challenger, Patrick O’Connor, has come close to making a case for firing the two veterans and hiring them instead.