There are, in public life, few instances of true leadership, government officials today being more likely to check the latest polls rather than their own conscience, before making a decision.
We have in our midst, however, one public official whose selfless dedication to serving those who elected him should not be allowed to exist unrecognized.
We're talking about Republican County Legislator Richard Nicolello, who, in recent weeks, has been championing the cause of the residents of Carle Place despite the fact that in the long run it may well cost him politically.
The issue that has brought this all about is the future development of the Nassau County Hub and a proposal to create a new Carle Place train station that would connect to a proposed people-mover serving hub businesses.
When Legislator Nicolello first heard of this proposal, on the day a draft report on the hub was formally adopted by the Long Island Regional Planning Board, he didn't stop to test the winds of public opinion. No, he knew intuitively that this proposal could adversely affect the residents of a community in his district and he candidly informed the planning board of his objection to this part of their proposal.
Not content to let the matter rest, Nicolello then secured a copy of the report and studied it in great detail. This analysis helped confirm his initial fears. He then held a public hearing on the hub study in order to let the public weigh in with its own opinions on the matter.
Now, what most people don't realize is how tough a political spot this stand has put Nicolello in. According to most members of Nicolello's own political party, the development of the hub is "hot wired," meaning that it is politically sensitive given that Nassau County Republican Party Chairman Joseph N. Mondello is counsel to the law firm headed by Mort Certilman, chairman of the Nassau Veteran Memorial Coliseum Privatization Committee, an organization with a keen interest in seeing that the hub be developed in a very specific way.
In recent weeks, even Newsday has weighed in against Nicolello, essentially calling him an obstructionist and a nitpicker.
"Obviously we made some notice," he said recently when asked about the Newsday editorial. "We upset some people... but sometimes, that's what this job is."
To our sensibility, County Legislator Richard Nicolello is just the kind of public servant we wish we saw more of in local government. He is a man who has shown both personal and political courage in recent weeks, courage exhibited, we are proud to say, on behalf of the men and women and children he serves.
We hope in the weeks to come that local residents will support their legislator just as vociferously as he has supported them.