Friday, 25 November 2011 00:00On Dec.13, two very important local elections will be held. Commissioner Ivar Segalowitz of the Great Neck Park District is retiring from the position. (Thank you, Ivar, for your many years of thoughtful and tireless service to the community.) Four candidates have filed to run for the position.
An incumbent commissioner at the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire and Water District will be facing three challengers for the commissioner position.
Both of these special districts provide vital, lifesaving and life-enhancing services to the communities they serve. Both have three-member boards.
Under state law, there is only one month between the filing deadline and the election day for special districts. Certainly the public gets weary of the robo-calls, the constant stream of mailers and the ramped up electioneering in other elections that stretch on for months and months. But at the other extreme, the one month campaigning period for the special districts places a heavy burden on the candidates to “get their message out” and on the public to become informed enough to make a decision about voting.
We have tried to get a running start on introducing the candidates to the public by reaching out to them as soon as possible to get basic information about them for our newspapers.
We have also been quite pushy about nudging for “Meet the Candidates” evenings to be organized. Too often, in these special district elections, coordinating the schedules of candidates, moderators, meeting places, and public access television, has been a Herculean task and the weeks just slip away without a debate ever happening. There is nothing like hearing candidates answer questions and seeing how they conduct themselves.
Unfortunately, the logistics of putting together these “Evenings” is more complicated in Great Neck now because our chapter of the League of Women Voters disbanded this past summer. Our League members were getting older and though, while just as impassioned about the need for non-partisan activities to promote informed public participation, their ranks were diminishing and younger women were not stepping up to take their places.
We are, however, fortunate that members from the Manhasset-Port Washington League will be moderating a Park District Meet the Candidates evening. The League is a trusted organization that has a history of conducting these evenings in a manner that is orderly, fair and strictly nonpartisan. The park district candidates night is set for Tuesday, November 29 at 7:30 at Great Neck House. It is being sponsored by the Great Neck Rotary Club.
Discussions are underway to plan a Meet the Candidates evening for the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire and Water District election. We will publicize the time and place as soon as we know.
So, nearly everything is in place. It will be up to the public to take an interest, turn out, ask penetrating questions, listen closely and decide how to vote. Or, if you can’t attend, tune in to Public Access TV and watch at your leisure with feet propped up and popcorn at hand.
Selecting public officials. It is a right. It is a privilege. It is a responsibility.
- Carol Frank