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Michael Miller

Viewpoint

By Michael Miller
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Train of Thought

1. This is being written 24 days before the General Election for county, city and town offices on Nov. 3. For some of us, these campaigns are literally over because thousands of Nassau County residents will have already mailed in absentee ballots by the time you read this…

2. As of last week’s campaign finance reports filed with the State Board of Elections, the four incumbent countywide officers, all running for re-election, have on hand in their campaign accounts $5.156 million. Let’s just call it 5.2 million dollars. Their four challengers have on hand in their campaign accounts $346,963. Let’s just call it zero million dollars…

 

3. In the previous 75 days, challengers were outspent by more than five to one, and that was before some incumbents began serious advertising last week, which is not reflected on the latest reports…

4. One of the major party candidates for countywide office has filed no financial reports, which means that they have not raised or spent $1,000. I imagine that we’ve had some Student Council campaigns in a few of our high schools that have spent $1,000. I suppose the only expenditures on behalf of the campaign are road signs provided by the party…

5. It takes real skill for challengers in a county of this size, statistical wealth and proven track record of generating vast campaign funds to raise this little money this close to Election Day. One might speculate that some kind of agreement has been made between the local political parties or others of influence to tacitly endorse opposing candidates, or at least give them as close to a free pass as humanly possible without actually making an official endorsement…

6. We have serious things to talk about in this county. We have big challenges, long range stuff and immediate future stuff. More than ever before in the very 111-year existence of this county, we need to have some kind of conversation, debate, coin flip or something about what this place needs to look like in order to thrive or even survive in a future that doesn’t look like the 1950s anymore. There appear at this moment to be exactly three campaigns in this county in which the Democratic and Republican parties are both actively trying to win. I know that other seats could change hands in this stressed political environment, but if that happens, the most surprised people on Long Island will be our local political leaders…

7. It isn’t just about fundraising, or hitting people up for money. That’s just one way to measure how serious candidates and their campaigns and their political sponsors are taking their responsibilities to the people and the ideas they are supposed to represent…

8. Candidates can win while being outspent, against highly organized political organizations, against significant enrollment deficits, against entrenched incumbents. It’s happened here. I’ve seen it up close, close enough to touch. A consistent, well-communicated idea can move votes, attract others. The stupid signs won’t…

9. There may even be time left to rethink things, fast, so that at least these candidates can walk away and say that they made a meaningful case at a critical time…

10. Even with only one side trying to win, if that’s the case, spending on local campaigns overall has been exploding for ten years. Yet participation has ebbed away. The political parties don’t learn or adjust, they just copy and repeat, and it isn’t working. Smart people who should know better…

11. Later this month, another friend of mine is leaving Long Island. She’s going to Charlotte, North Carolina. Born and raised here, successful professional, moving. Done with Long Island…

12. This week, one of the county campaigns is running ads on cable in which the main theme is “Let’s fix Albany.” That’s it? Albany? Really and truly?…

13. I have been ringing doorbells since I was a little boy. If you’ve lost me, if I can’t identify the relevance of your campaigns, if I can’t use something you’ve said to help me convince friends not to go to Charlotte, then a million Nassau County residents are at least as baffled…

14. Epic fail…

15. You can say that again.

Michael Miller is a freelance writer, designer and strategic consultant who has worked in state and local government. He lives in New Hyde Park.

Michael Miller is a freelance writer, designer and strategic consultant who has worked in state and local government. Email: millercolumn@optimum.net