Where are the Politicians?

It’s around the time of local elections here in the Town of Brookhaven. To the modern day grumblers who are never content with anything done regarding religion or politics, this offers a semblance of hope, or, simply more room for critique. I myself often have a bad taste for the political scene and like many find myself groaning for a more authentic and useful polity. Matter of fact, you can listen to a fellow Kingdom co-laborer of mine, Ryan Cataldo and I, speak of these things on my most recent podcasted Hairy Ticks Variety Show. Here is the link, https://tfcradio.org/tuesday-at-8pm/

The title of this blog makes two points. Firstly, at many meetings I attend regarding the heroin epidemic that has hit the Town of Brookhaven hard, it is often asked “Where are the politicians”. Surely, when pictures are being taken the politicians can be found, however when the hard task of listening, sharing, and seeking out solutions is necessary – there are very few times a politician can be found.

This brings me to another point. I attended a recent civic meeting that sponsored a “Meet the Candidates”. I was immediately dismayed that a few of the candidates expressed the notion that “I am not a career politician”. A politician is defined as “a person who is professionally involved in politics, especially as a holder of or a candidate for an elected office.” That also lends to the title of this blog – if these men and women are not career politicians, then where are the career politicians? Namely because that was the entire reason I was there – to meet those desiring to take up the career of politician. Instead of throwing off the label of politician I hope to see many of these men and women reform the image of a politician back to authentically and honestly serving on behalf of the people.

In supplying a short honest review of things as they seem to me, I would be honest that I lamented the constant barrage of comments regarding debt and land use. Now, I am not saying these things are not important, they surely have their place, however I did feel attention was lacking in other areas that need some political attention, especially in Brookhaven. I do appreciate the proper use of land wherein we can restore beauty, wholeness, and worth. I appreciate the demolishing of “zombie homes” that are a “suburban blight”. However, are we really that dull in our senses that we are able to overlook the issues causing death and despair, as well as possible solutions, in favor of speaking of comforts and desires?

I mention these things as a local pastor who attends various meetings to campaign for “my cause” – the healing nature of the Kingdom of God. I am an active participant with many community groups, including the Blue Point Community Civic and the Bayport-Blue Point Chamber of Commerce. I also graduated recently from Parent-Leadership Initiative wherein were we challenged to strengthen our civic and leadership skills to support creating a caring community for children and families.

As one would imagine, I took plenty of notes as I sat there and listened to the candidates. While I surely do not look to share an exhaustive review, I do want to share a couple points that stood out to me.
Mr. Anthony Piccirillo who is running for Suffolk County Legislature spoke knowledgeably and passionately about the red light camera issue we are dealing with in our county. He has noted, “the red light camera program in Suffolk County is a scam and nothing but a money grab for incompetent politicians who can’t balance the books.”. I must admit that I valued the thoughts of Mr. Piccirillo because I have also seen him at a LI-CAN Listening Post doing the work of listening and sharing in an effort to play a part in the fight against heroin abuse. Again, this is something I mentioned as very important to me at the start of this blog.

Ms. Valerie Cartwright who is Councilwoman of the 1st District of Brookhaven highlighted the need for community-based engagement. Also, I thought it was quite the point that she made in disagreement with Mr. Dan Pernico regarding the local politicians involvement in all facets of government, not just a limited focus on local details. As the saying goes, “The whole is equal to the sum of its parts”.

I was encouraged by the remarks from Ms. Cindy Morris who is running for Town Clerk. She expressed a desire to carry forward and develop the work that current Town Clerk, Donna Lent, has done. Ms. Morris also brought up great ideas about transparency and more accessibility to Town info (for example putting Town Meetings on Facebook Live). Also, Mr. Dom Pascual who is running for Suffolk County Legislature had an interesting focus on environment and was one of the few candidates who seemed to truly value local civic involvement. Also, Mr. Kevin Hyms highlighted the importance of the PTA, which stood out among the candidates.

As a young man myself seeking to play my part in healing our communities on Long Island, I was rather encouraged to see young men and women on the panel. Each of them spoke with boldness and clarity, and with passion they spoke of an advancing Brookhaven that will make life more affordable and delightful for the up and coming generations. I think of Mr. Anthony Portesy who is running for Highway Superintendent and he made sure to mention the horrendous potholes in our roads. Mr. Josh Slaughter who is running for County Legislature caught my attention because of the passion and clarity with which he spoke, and Mr. Mike Goodman who is running for Councilman was very humble and was gracious in answering some points of interest as I had the privilege to catch up with him at the end of the meeting.

I hate to end on a bad note, however rather than saying critique is bad, we should rather view it as opportunity to examine ourselves and grow into the future. That being said, two candidates that left me rather discouraged were Mrs. Jane Bonner who is running for Councilwoman of the District 2, where she currently serves, and Mr. Lawrence Zacarese who is running for Suffolk Sheriff. Please allow me to explain. Mrs. Bonner attacked the notions that Long Island is unaffordable and continually made faces and mocked the notions that there is corruption in Brookhaven. My honest thought was that this is akin to the idiom, “She like the ostrich has buried her head in the sand”. Mr. Zacarese in his response to recent immigration issues affecting regions of Long Island made a false matter of fact statement that would leave one thinking there has never been error in the deportation of individuals who may not have been involved in crime and/or could live at liberty with laws if given the proper opportunity to do so. As someone who has worked within various efforts to reduce violent gang involvement and crime, I know very well that some young men had begun to make necessary changes in their lives, which usually involved changing their social network, and then suffered deportation regardless. Do we believe in the notions of rehabilitation and correction? Why make the work of social workers among others seem so vain?

I appreciated the work of Mrs. Maryanne Johnston and ABCO in hosting such an opportunity for us to “Meet the Candidates”. I must say this. In my going forth to various civic meetings across Long Island I do hope to see more of the younger generations in attendance. Stand up and be counted. The civic leaders and those who have been in attendance, need to help add value to new issues and the concerns of the younger generations. I was a bit flabbergasted when I heard Mrs. Johnson say that other cards have too many other issues and she made the ultimate decision in what questions to ask. And yes, while I understand I was not involved in the bringing about, the setting up, or any service to this meeting, however the buffeting of Mrs. Cindy Morris when she brought up a point that referred to Mr. Jack Harrington (who is running for Brookhaven Town Supervisor) was unnecessary. I do understand that in order for Mr. Harrington to have had a thing to say (meanwhile he is away serving in the U.S. Navy Reserve), it should have and would have been appropriate for him to write and request opportunity tp be present through letter. My point is though that Ms. Morris simply referred to him and made a point, there was surely no need to shut her down and say “No surrogates” numerous times.

I do pray that these thoughts will be received well. I know that I speak upon the frustrations of many and that alone meets the intended goal. I leave us with an anonymous quote that inspired my day and I’m sure it will inspire many days to come:
“We can’t see the future, so we’re ceaselessly stepping into the dimness of the coming hour, the twilight and obscurity of tomorrow”.

Sincerely,
Pastor Michael Miano
The Blue Point Bible Church

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