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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    What’s Best for Brookhaven

    Many people, particularly those on campus, don’t even know that there’s an election coming up on Mar. 31, an election that will determine a new Brookhaven Town Supervisor – Stony Brook University’s township. Since our previous town supervisor was elected to the New York State Senate in November, the town supervisor position is currently vacant.

    My views on the subject might surprise some people: I’m a senior political science major who likes to write and think about politics, although I’m not registered with a party, I’ve never made a campaign donation and I’m – as far as most people can tell – relatively apathetic about politics. I don’t think of it as being apathy; I prefer to say that I’m “chronically unconvinced.” I’m just waiting for someone to convince me.

    I guess the bottom line is that, in terms of policy, I don’t know what’s best for the world or the country or Stony Brook University, and the fact remains that most of the problems we face today don’t have easy answers, despite what many politicians, activists and pundits will tell you. This, however, isn’t any reason to ignore politics. In fact, I would argue that it’s a reason to care that much more, to give that much more thought into whom you support and why you support them.

    In the end, I vote. Sometimes I weigh out the nitty-gritty policy options and come up with whom I think is the best candidate, and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes it’s easy: one guy is clearly dishonest, the other isn’t. Maybe one guy doesn’t seem like he’d really be able to unite people or maybe I think he’s just not intelligent enough. But because I don’t always know what’s best for the world, my decisions at the ballot often come down to something more primordial than this.

    Back to the election at the end of March. On one side, we have the candidate from Party A, the party that controlled Brookhaven Town until 2005, the party that gave Brookhaven national recognition as “Crookhaven” after some Suffolk County and Brookhaven leaders from Party A were convicted of racketeering, extortion, and bribery, much of it in connection with a chop-shop ring that stole trucks and chopped them up for parts, as well as an extortion scheme related to the infamous and enormous landfill located in Brookhaven.

    Party A controlled Brookhaven for many decades and although for much of this time you were probably either (a) not politically active or (b) not born yet, I have not heard very many good things about these days, days when your prospects of getting a job in the town were directly correlated with the party with which you were registered, the days when policy decisions were made in the Party A headquarters rather than town hall.

    In 2005, however, Party B gained a majority in the Town Council. At the same time, Party B’s candidate became town supervisor, promising reform and a complete turn-around of government. Now, I’ve lived in Brookhaven Town my entire life. Over the last 3-plus years with Party B in control, I don’t feel all that different-it’s not like one day we were all slaves to the Party A machine and the next day, the infallible light of Party B shone upon us, the asphalt was replaced with gold and all manner of sea and woodland creatures singing to the tune of a brighter tomorrow. Okay, so we have a higher bond rating than ever before, that’s a good thing. And as far as I can tell, the town isn’t stealing our cars anymore.

    So as far as I’m concerned, Party A (the Republican Party) has had its chance. Party B (the Democratic Party) it’s doing a decent job so far, and I’m willing to give them a few more years to clean up Party A’s mess.

    This is besides the fact that the Democrat in this race, Mark Lesko, is a Yale graduate who went to Georgetown University Law School and recently resigned from being a federal prosecutor in order to run for town supervisor. This is a guy who could pretty much get a job anywhere in the country, even in today’s economy. But for whatever reason, he opts for a mediocre salary in public service when he could be making a killing in some private practice somewhere.

    Yes, this is true of many politicians, but partly because of this, it’s pretty clear to me that Lesko is in this because he wants to be a public servant, not because he wants to be a politician. And while I honestly don’t know what policies are best for Brookhaven Town, on some level I trust Mark Lesko to figure it out.

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