Editorials

Councilwoman Tracey Edwards walking in the Cow Harbor Day Parade on Sunday, Sept. 20. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Supervisor

Edwards’ leadership is needed

As Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) steps down from his 24-year reign, Huntington faces a number of challenging issues ranging from gang violence to balancing smart economic growth with traffic and parking. It will take a tough individual to get the job done.

Two great candidates have stepped forward to fill Petrone’s shoes. While there is no doubt that Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci (R) is overall well-liked by Huntington’s residents, Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) has shown she has breadth of community support and the gritty determination needed to bring about change.

In her first term in town office, Edwards has spearheaded the creation of the Huntington Opportunity Resource Center and pushed hard for the revitalization of Huntington Station. There’s a master plan in place for the station. The mixed-use Northridge Project is no longer a vision of what could be, but a constructed reality prepared to open by the end of this year.

Edwards said she’s had an inside seat to the town’s affairs “long enough to know what to keep, what things need to change and what things need to be tweaked.” From our perspective, taking time to directly observe first before demanding change is a sign of wisdom.

If we have to choose one, we encourage you to vote for Edwards. We wish Lupinacci continued success.

Town Board

We choose Cuthbertson, Rogan

Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) offers the sole voice of political experience in the four-way race for two seats on Huntington Town Board. It’s clear by his knowledge of the area’s issues, the challenges in overcoming them, and familiarity with the town code.

Cuthbertson is running on the Democratic ticket with Emily Rogan, who is a political newcomer, but claims to have refined her communication and negotiation skills as a member of Huntington school district’s board of education when Jack Abrams Intermediate School was temporarily shut down and transformed into a STEM magnet school.

When listening to these somewhat “reluctant” running mates, it became clear to us that together the Democrats offer a blend of institutional knowledge and a refreshing new point of view. It’s a team with the right combination of governmental skill and fresh energy that is needed to push Huntington forward.

We appreciate the efforts of Jim Leonick and Ed Smyth in running for public office, but had difficulty fully understanding their future vision for Huntington. They took issue with town codes but didn’t fully know how the impact of the changes they proposed, which left us feeling uncertain. The future leadership of Huntington needs to be not only strong, but have a firm grasp on the details.

Ed Wehrheim is running for Smithtown Town supervisor. File photo by Rohma Abbas

Supervisor

We want Wehrheim to lead

It will certainly be a tough road ahead for whoever takes the seat of Smithtown supervisor this November after Pat Vecchio’s (R) 40-year reign at town hall.

But we believe Councilman Ed Wehrheim (R), who has worked in town government for more than four decades, will serve the role with a great deal of insight, familiarity, openness and forward-thinking leadership. He’s somebody who’s not afraid to shake things up, as evident in his shocking victory over Vecchio in September’s Republican primary, and could make for significant — and much-needed — changes in how Smithtown operates.

Getting his start as director of parks, buildings and grounds in 1971, and serving on the town board since 2003, Wehrheim is well experienced in bringing business developments to the villages and hamlets and helping to increase tax revenues to the town. He believes in righting the wrongs of how the government under Vecchio functioned, by moving ahead with stalled downtown revitalization plans, developing more residential housing, addressing the board’s lack of transparency between its members and making town hall a more approachable place for residents.

While we think Wehrheim is the right choice, we were extremely impressed by his independent opponent as well. Kristen Slevin, a young business owner with no government experience but plenty of initiative and energy to make up for it, is definitely someone to keep an eye on, and we hope that she considers running for town board or remains involved in politics in some capacity.

Town Board

Nowick, Lohmann a good match

The Town of Smithtown is on the brink of massive change, as the 40-year-reign of Supervisor Pat Vecchio (R) comes to an end, and a new board will have major decisions to make about how to move forward.

Councilwoman Lynne Nowick (R) has served one four-year term in town, enough to get an insider’s perspective, and speaks bluntly about the concerns of residents in terms of local roadways and parking. She was also one of the only candidates to speak out on the larger looming issue of opioid and heroin abuse in Smithtown. She also served 12 years in the Suffolk County Legislature, gaining invaluable experience that we expect her to continue to bring to Smithtown as a voice of change.

We believe it would serve both the town and its residents well if she were to work closely with Conservative candidate Tom Lohmann. Lohmann speaks to public sentiment for a new comprehensive plan, improving traffic flow and also the need to address drug and gang issues. His experience as a former police officer and current investigator for Suffolk County lends a practical from-the-street insight much needed in the town.

It is our belief that this mixed team of Lohmann and Nowick could bring about the overhaul and revitalization Smithtown needs.

Conservative candidate Bob Doyle was similarly impressive with his ability to get directly to the heart of an issue and propose practical solutions for traffic, revitalization and violence issues. If he were to get elected instead of Lohmann, we are confident the residents’ best interests would be served. We hope Doyle and Lohmann will continue to work together after the election.

Suffolk County district attorney candidate Tim Sini and sheriff candidate Larry Zacarese during recent visits to the TBR News Media office. Photos by Kevin Redding

Suffolk County District Attorney

A fresh start for DA’s office

It’s no secret that Suffolk County’s District Attorney office is in desperate need of a culture change. The allegations-turned charges against Thomas Spota (D), who held the position since 2001, have created public distrust in a position that requires it. The district attorney decides who gets charged with crimes, and a lack of confidence in the integrity of the person leading that position creates a tangled web of problems Suffolk County residents shouldn’t have to worry about.

To that end, Tim Sini (D) has dealt with a startlingly analogous situation as police commissioner, which ironically features many of the same players, and he’s handled it as well as anyone could have asked. Real progress is being made on the gang front, and we think his experience in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, coupled with his time as police commissioner are more than enough to put to bed concerns from people like his challenger about his age and relative inexperience.

On Ray Perini (R), we were mostly satisfied with his defenses of two scandals from his past brought to light during this campaign. However, at a time like this, the mere hint of possible wrongdoing in the position of district attorney is enough to continue damaging public perception of a position in need of a fresh start.

With all that being said, we’re endorsing Sini for Suffolk County district attorney.

Suffolk County Sheriff

A new sheriff in the county

With two new candidates boasting impressive work backgrounds running for Suffolk County sheriff, Republican Larry Zacarese and Democrat Errol Toulon, it was difficult deciding who to endorse. After much deliberation Zacarese gets our endorsement.

We believe Zacarese has done his homework when it comes to the job as sheriff and his experience at Stony Brook University as assistant chief of police and director of the Office of Emergency Management will be an asset. His position there is a well-rounded one. He is involved in operations, planning, mitigation, response and recovery and working with the installation of and maintenance of the electronic security system for more than 250 buildings.

He has also met with those on task forces dealing with the gang problems on Long Island to ensure that they are well staffed and good relationships between federal and local agencies are intact.

We hope that Toulon will continue to pursue a career in politics. With a great deal of experience in law enforcement including at Rikers Island, we can see him serving the county in the future, perhaps in a role such as police commissioner.

Suffolk County Legislator District 5

Hahn handles county business

Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) has the experience to take care of business in the 5th Legislative District of Suffolk County, and we endorse her in her run for a fourth term as a county legislator.

Approachable and accessible, Hahn listens to the needs of her constituents.

The chairwoman of both the Environment, Planning & Agriculture Committee and Parks & Recreation Committee, she supports the county’s program to update septic systems, which will reduce nitrogen in our waters. In the past she has sponsored initiatives authorizing appraisal of lands under the Suffolk County Drinking Water Protection Program.

She has been a steward for our local parks by tackling illegal dumping by increasing county penalties and creating programs for children to explore local public lands with her Parks Passport program.

We were impressed with her challenger Republican Edward Flood, and we hope he will continue to pursue a political career. A lawyer who is the chief of staff for state Assemblyman Dean Murray (R-East Patchogue), we believe Flood has the potential to serve in office, and as a supporter of the group Long Island Needs a Drag Strip, he has good ideas when it comes to bringing in more tax revenues while creating minimal disruption to residents.

Suffolk County Legislator District 6

Safe in Sarah Anker’s hands

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) is focused on local issues.

Although legislative issues may reach further than that of the town, we appreciate the incumbent’s care and concern for her district’s constituents and the challenges they face, not just the ones that the county does.

We think she works diligently and closely with her constituents, making her the best candidate in this race. We commend her track record on issues like parks creation; protecting drinking water by prohibiting the acceptance of wastewater produced by hydraulic fracturing; and her work with Father Frank Pizzarelli and Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson to try to quell opioid addiction.

Some of the points her Democratic opponent Gary Pollakusky made about the county’s lower bond rating, $2.1 billion debt and $200 million structural deficit are all causes for concern, but Anker is just one member of a larger group, and should not be held accountable for all of its ills or credited with all of its successes.

Pollakusky’s campaign style tends to be rough, even bullying. We are also concerned about the merits of his business ventures and nonprofit organization based on the odd mechanics of the website and social media.

Anker has shown leadership, being able to see the problem, recognizing who can solve the problem, getting in touch with the right people, putting them all together in a room and stepping back and letting the solution evolve. She listens to people and sees if she can help. We’re all for that.

Suffolk County Legislator District 12

Kennedy should keep at it

As her first full term in the Suffolk County Legislature comes to a close, we feel that Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset) has proven to be a passionate, effective and caring leader for the 12th District.

Kennedy, a longtime nurse, is not afraid to go toe-to-toe with her colleagues from both  sides of the aisle, whether it’s regarding hikes in county fees or public safety projects, and seems to have the residents’ needs in mind with every decision she makes. It’s very clear she is rattled by the county’s current financial situation and is doing everything in her power to make sure families and constituents have the opportunity to grow and thrive. She has also done plenty of research on a wide variety of issues not only in her district but Suffolk County as a whole, and seeks to find a pragmatic solution to every one of them.

Suffolk County Legislator District 13

Trotta tackles Suffolk’s issues

It’s important, and rare, in politics to have a watchdog in the ranks —  a whistle-blower who’s not afraid to call out colleagues and issues for the greater good. And there’s perhaps nobody on the local level with a louder bark than Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga).

Trotta, a former county police officer, has for the last four years consistently fought in favor of making Suffolk County an easier and cheaper place to live for residents of all ages even at the expense of making enemies. He’s become the face of exposing corruption in the county, whether it’s egregious hikes in fees or the connection between campaign contributors and elected officials. He’s also on the front line of the debate against the Suffolk County Red Light Safety Program, which has been proven to increase accidents at busy intersections and seems to serve no other purpose than to collect more fees from residents.

His Democratic opponent Colleen Maher doesn’t appear to show any interest in campaigning and, as far as we know, is just a name to put on the ballot.

Trotta is brutally honest, a statistics and facts-based whiz and the very definition of a realist. He tells it like it is and actually backs up his accusations with ways to fix the problems.

As cynical as he is about the way the county runs, it’s apparent that Trotta still very much cares about the region and is rooting for it to turn around, especially for the sake of young people. He wants them to have an opportunity to grow and thrive here. And,  with him serving more terms as legislator, there’s a chance they will one day.

Suffolk County Legislator District 16

Bring Berland to the county

When it comes to Suffolk County’s 16th Legislative District, we believe that Democratic hopeful Susan Berland has the experience and community knowledge needed fill the seat of termed-out Legislator Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills).

Berland has shown her devotion to the Town of Huntington’s residents by working full time as a councilwoman for the last 16 years, despite it being only a part-time position. She demonstrates a fine-tuned understanding of the taxpayers needs on multiple issues: sticking to a tight budget while maintaining town services and supporting affordable housing projects while promising to fight for preservation of open space.

Her prior work experience as a state assistant attorney general will give her insight into tackling the area’s challenges of combating gang violence and drug addiction. Public safety remains another big task.

While we applaud the efforts of Republican candidate Hector Gavilla in his first run for political office, he needs to gain a better grasp of a county legislator’s role and how national issues translate the local level first. It’s difficult to understand his position on some issues. Gavilla said he was strongly in favor of cutting back on Suffolk police officers’ salaries while simultaneously stating that the government should spare no expense in protecting the public’s safety, also noting that he would increase police patrols.

The next individual elected to the county legislature will need a nuanced, detailed understanding of budgets, contracts and smart growth, and we think Berland fits the bill.

Suffolk County Legislator District 18

Doc Spencer can fix Suffolk

Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D) has served admirably in his role representing the northern portion of Huntington township in the county’s 18th Legislative District for the last six years.

Spencer’s background as a licensed physician has given him the insight and experience to successfully tackle several serious health issues. Spencer’s résumé includes raising the age to purchase tobacco to 21; banning the marketing of energy drinks to youth; prohibiting the sale of powdered caffeine to minors and more. In our conversation with him, Spencer demonstrated a nuanced understanding of the different challenges the county faces in addressing the opioid and heroin problem.

While his Republican challenger Dom Spada raises legitimate concerns regarding Suffolk County’s fiscal situation, it is a crisis that every elected official is aware of and has spoken about at length. No one is arguing against cutting costs, but the bigger challenge is reaching a consensus on where to make cutbacks and trim programs.

We believe that Spencer is an overall stronger candidate to address the county’s pressing health needs and build the consensus in the Legislature needed to fix the county’s budget woes.

Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine and Councilwoman Jane Bonner. File photo

Supervisor

Romaine an asset to town

An undeniable by-product of the heated and often circus-like 2016 presidential election is a booming pool of highly qualified and energized people throwing their names in the ring to run for political office. This phenomenon is perfectly embodied by the Town of Brookhaven supervisor race.

Incumbent Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) often begins speaking engagements with the line, “It’s a great day for Brookhaven.” It is our belief that the day he took office in 2012 was a truly great day for Brookhaven. His experience as a public servant and ability to create partnerships seamlessly with Democrats and Republicans alike make him an asset for our town. He’s willing to fight for what he feels is right for the people of the town. Period.

On the other hand, his challenger Jack Harrington, a Democrat and resident of Stony Brook, is a qualified, young candidate with obvious confidence and leadership skills. He too would be an asset to any community lucky enough to have him as a public servant. We hope this first attempt at political candidacy is just the beginning for him, and the Democratic party within the town and Suffolk County would be wise to keep tabs on him and keep him in mind in the future should he fall to Romaine Nov. 7. If candidates like Harrington continue to come forward and run for office, our local politics can only benefit.

Despite Harrington’s qualifications, he’s not quite Romaine. We proudly endorse Romaine to remain Brookhaven’s town supervisor for another term, and if he maintains his track record and values when it comes to protecting the environment and exemplary financial management, this probably won’t be the last time this publication stands behind him.

1st District

Cartright to keep things in check

Checks and balances in government are everything, on all levels. In the Town of Brookhaven, 1st District Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) since 2013 has been the watchful eye over a board that entering this cycle features four Republicans and a Conservative, as well as a Republican supervisor. This is not to say we have any reason to distrust the members of the Brookhaven board, regardless of party, but we’d like to think that can be attributed to the existence of not only an exemplary crop of dedicated and honest public servants but also due to the presence of a dissenting political voice.

This is also not to assume the town incumbents will all be successful in their respective re-election bids in 2017. However, should the status quo remain on the Republican side, we are confident that Cartright can continue on as the embodiment of a two-party system.

Beyond her mere existence as a Democrat, Cartright has been a champion for causes aimed at improving the environment and water quality in the district and townwide. Since her first term, she has been dedicated to advancing a Port Jefferson Station/Terryville revitalization project that we’d like to see come to fruition and has played a major role in the visioning project for the Route 25A corridor.

Her opponent, Republican James Canale of Port Jefferson Station, is an enthusiastic, young politician with his head and heart both firmly in the right place. We hope his first run for political office is not his last.

We have a minor criticism of Cartright going forward, which we discussed with her personally. In seeking comment from the councilwoman on stories, which are oftentimes directly related to work she is doing, she and her staff are not always able to connect, sometimes too late for deadlines, and sometimes not at all. To be a successful leader, communication with constituents is key, and constituents read newspapers.

We strongly support Cartright in her bid to remain in charge of Brookhaven’s 1st District.

2nd District

Bonner brings experience

While incumbent Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner’s (C-Rocky Point) opponent Democrat Mike Goodman has some understandable concerns with the future of life in Brookhaven, we feel Bonner is best for the job.

Her years of experience have helped propel her to her present position. Working as a legislative aid to then-Suffolk County Legislator Dan Losquadro (R) and as a councilwoman for the second council district for the last decade has given her a breadth of knowledge, experience and connections.

Bonner said she believes there will be a resurgence of downtown Rocky Point, and we hope she strives to make changes that attract quality businesses to enhance the area, modeling from Main Street in Patchogue or Port Jefferson. We also applaud her care for shoreline structures and her involvement in the Culross Beach Rocky Point-North Shore Beach Property Owners Association debacle, as well as for monitoring the dispute against a DDI Development house in Miller Place and speaking in favor of it publicly. The councilwoman cares about her constituents, about the environment and about making things better. She has also shown she has the leadership ability to get the job done.

We have no doubt her challenger also cares. We admire Goodman for throwing his hat into the ring, raising concern over key issues like the lack of jobs and affordable housing, and we encourage the town and Bonner to bring more ideas to the table, and even explore his ticketing system suggestion.

While we vote for Bonner, we also encourage the councilwoman to work with her challenger on his ideas and use him as a resource to create a better Brookhaven.

3rd District

Leave it to Kevin LaValle

As TBR News Media’s 2016 Person of the Year piece said, Brookhaven Town Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) is a councilman you can count on.

Unlike his challenger, the councilman knows more about the issues in the 3rd Council District on a local level and has worked closely with related groups to solve problems. His work helping the nonprofit Hobbes Community Farm receive funding is commendable, and his efforts securing large sums of money through grants is a smart way to get the job done without putting the burden of the bill on the town.

Democratic nominee Alfred Ianacci has no specific solutions and lacks knowledge of what the town is currently working on, pointing out in his list of concerns some things that are already being addressed by Brookhaven.

LaValle is a perfect fit for the position he’s in. Growing up in the community he serves, LaValle offers a unique perspective, knowing his constituents well and knowing the long-standing issues he needs to tackle. We have been pleased to see his growth in the position and expect that to continue should he secure another term. Confidently go with LaValle on Election Day.

Highway superintendent

All roads lead to Losquadro

The Town of Brookhaven highway superintendent has one of the largest responsibilities of any local elected official. It is the head of the department’s job to oversee literally thousands of miles of road, and incumbent Dan Losquadro (R) has done an excellent job of making that task more manageable during his first two terms.

He set out with the goal of streamlining and updating the highway department’s systems and mechanics to create greater efficiency in the way it deals with its upward of $100 million annual budget, and he has done a masterful job at achieving that goal so far. We think the town would benefit from two more years of Losquadro to allow him more time to play out his five- and 10-year plans, which he said he established shortly after taking office.

We commend his challenger, Democrat Anthony Portesy, for taking the leap into political candidacy, and his enthusiasm, drive and education make him an attractive candidate for other offices going forward.

This time around, go with Losquadro.

Cougars celebrate a three run standup double to tie the game at four

Athletic success was contagious on the North Shore this spring.

We boasted 13 boys lacrosse, 11 baseball, eight boys tennis, 13 girls lacrosse and 11 softball squads in the playoffs this season. Local teams like Comsewogue boys lacrosse, Ward Melville baseball, Ward Melville boys tennis, Smithtown East girls lacrosse and Walt Whitman softball reached the semifinals. Seven of those 56 postseason qualifiers went on to be crowned Suffolk County champions, including the Commack baseball team, which grabbed the program’s first title in 20 years, and Mount Sinai’s softball team, which won its third straight county final.

Ward Melville boys lacrosse and the girls lacrosse teams from Mount Sinai and Middle Country all nabbed Long Island championship titles, and all three won their state semifinal games. The Patriots and Mustangs won state titles. And after the Middle Country Mad Dogs won the program’s first county, Long Island and state semifinal games, the girls narrowly lost in overtime, after the nation’s No. 1 lacrosse recruit and New York’s new all-time leading scorer Jamie Ortega netted the equalizer with just 1:37 left in regulation.

Districts like Mount Sinai, Shoreham-Wading River and Ward Melville have been dominating team and individual sports, creating powerhouse programs. Besides posting playoff teams in nearly every sport, Shoreham-Wading River junior Katherine Lee won a myriad of titles across the track and field season. She became a part of history when she and three other teammates swept the top three spots in the 3,000-meter state qualifier run, and placed second in the state with a new personal best.

Port Jefferson sophomore Shane DeVincenzo placed sixth overall and fifth in the Federation at the state golf tournament. Northport track and field’s 4×800 relay team placed first in the state and Federation finals, and Huntington’s Lawrence Leake placed third in the state track and field finals in the 400 high hurdles. His teammate Kyree Johnson won a state title in the 400 dash and third in the long jump, and led the Blue Devils to win the Federation team title, toppling every public, private and parochial high school in New York.

A load of other talented track and field standouts across our schools placed in the county finals and state qualifier meets. We’ve seen more and more talent across every team and individual sport with each season, and our schools continue to sneak into national rankings, perhaps creating budding dynasties for years to come.

With the end of another successful season, we want to recognize all the hard work and dedication put in by our student-athletes, many of whom excel to a similar level inside the classroom, and their coaches who help lead the way. Every student needs some guidance, and it’s clear guidance from coaches this season helped bring these athletes great success.

To overcome any kind of competition, students spend years learning their chosen sport or sports, practicing skills and developing their physical fitness. It takes a lot of patience and positive thinking to not give up at one loss or the next, and trust that the years of sacrifice will pay off. We’re proud to have covered those wrapping up their high school careers who have represented our six paper’s various coverage areas with class and pride, and we look forward to seeing what the returners can do next year. Congratulations, and keep up the good work.

Lee Zeldin, center, announces his support of two House bills to help addicts and prevent others from using drugs. File photo by Victoria Espinoza

This past weekend 1st Congressional District U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) hosted town hall events in Riverhead, Farmingville and Smithtown. Ordinarily, an elected official meeting face to face with constituents shouldn’t be breaking news. When it comes to Zeldin, however, holding these town halls is noteworthy because of how hard some voters pleaded with him in the past few months to participate in an open forum as he did April 23.

Before these, he held a phone town hall, which left several constituents upset with the restricting nature of the conversation. Only a handful of questions could be asked, and were submitted prior to the phone call, with thousands listening in. And, of course, there was no face time.

We commend Zeldin for listening to the concerns of the people who elected him as their representative all day Sunday, knowing he would face many angry residents.

Firsthand accounts of the three meetings returned a mixed bag of reviews. Many were happy to have had the chance to hear Zeldin speak about issues important to them, though others were still unsatisfied because questions for some of the meetings were screened ahead of time and selected by moderators.

Holding three town halls was a great step by a congressman who is obviously liked in his district. Nearly 60 percent of the district selected Zeldin on Election Day. He proved he is capable of standing in front of a partially hostile crowd and contributing to a productive dialogue, while the 40 percent of voters who didn’t select him and have been behaving like “liberal obstructionists,” as Zeldin has dubbed them, proved they’re capable of participating in a civilized conversation completely devoid of danger to the congressman.

This was a first step by both sides, but more work is clearly left to be done before midterm elections in November 2018. Let’s keep the ball rolling and keep the dialogue open.

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Schools are not immune to intolerance and violence, and school district administration shouldn’t be turning a blind eye and leave hate crime behavior unanswered.

Last week, several parents were up in arms at a Rocky Point board of education meeting due to a lack of communication between the school and parents. One mother reached out to administrators last month when her daughter found a note on her desk that had been covered in animosity. On the Post-It were various obscenities, a swastika and Adolf Hitler’s name. Robin Siefert’s 9-year-old daughter, the only Jewish student in her fourth-grade class at Joseph A. Edgar Intermediate School, has been crying every day as a result of the event, according to her mother. Another student was also called the N-word after he did well during a basketball game. The student, in the latter instance, was reported but bragged to the other student that he hadn’t gotten in trouble.

The fact that a school district had been confronted with evidence and no serious action was taken to find out who the student is that left the note, and no disciplinary action was given to the student using the N-word is concerning. This type of behavior is not conducive to a harmonious student body and does not set a good example or precedent for future issues.

As Siefert noted, there are no strict guidelines for the school to follow, so the district is already at a disadvantage, but that gives the district the opportunity to create new protocol and react proactively to these incidents.

Since the children are in elementary school, this also raises concerns about parenting. Elementary students are young and malleable, whatever opinions they have can often be tracked back to their family.

According to an Anti-Defamation League report April 24, “the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the country was 86 percent higher than the same period last year” with about 541 attacks and threats between January and March.  With hatred and intolerance widespread following President Donald Trump’s (R) campaign and election, there’s a growing issue, and we shouldn’t be emboldening these children, but pulling out the magnifying glass and scrutinizing these behaviors and coming up with ways to solve the problem. We need to keep kids safe. We need to keep families safe.

Congressman Lee Zeldin. File photo by Victoria Espinoza

President-elect Donald Trump’s (R) cabinet appointments to this point have raised some eyebrows, but we had a perfect solution for one of the departments which was still in need of leadership as several selections begin the confirmation process this week.

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) seemed like a no-brainer to serve as the secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Although Trump nominated David Shulkin, the current undersecretary for health of the VA, when he addressed the media Jan. 11, we think Zeldin’s name should be kept in mind for the position should any snags arise in Shulkin’s confirmation.

Trump has met with or considered about a dozen people to run the second-largest federal department, according to The Washington Post, prior to landing on Shulkin.

Although it has been proven to be one of the toughest segments of government to run and run well — with accountability, budget management issues and more plaguing the current administration — you don’t have to look far to see why Zeldin would have fit the bill.

Zedlin, a veteran himself, has been fighting to expand disabled veterans’ access to adult day health care in and away from home, even helping construct a new veterans health care clinic in Manorville. He also created the PFC Joseph P. Dwyer peer-to-peer support program to fight PTSD and veteran suicide rates, helping those who return from combat ill prepared to handle the physical and mental scarring. Zeldin was in strong support of the No Veterans Crisis Line Call Should Go Unanswered Act, which mandates that crisis center responders be available to answer a dedicated phone number 24 hours a day, seven days a week. President Barack Obama (D) signed it into law in November, after the bill garnered unanimous support in the House.

In 2016 Suffolk County joined the ranks of only a few select regions in the U.S. to bring an “effective end” to veteran homelessness, according to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, and Zeldin worked with many groups who helped achieve this status.

He’s a member of the Veterans’ Affairs and Foreign Affairs committees and continues to serve as a major in the Army Reserves.

Zeldin has also been a strong supporter of curbing the drug crisis plaguing the country. The congressman strongly endorsed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, to combat Long Island’s heroin hitch, signed into law by President Obama this past summer. Zeldin is also a member of the Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic.

All of these achievements were reached in Zeldin’s freshman term as a congressman, and we believe his input in this area should be valued going forward no matter who holds the cabinet position.

Zeldin supported Trump in the presidential campaign, and said he sides with the Republican on many issues in our in-house candidate debate; so it seems like a Trump decision to pick Zeldin would have been fitting. As for our editorial board, we saw it as not just fitting but a strong and wise choice.

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The memorial sits above the USS Arizona, a sunken battleship, in Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. File photo

There are moments in American history that change the course of our democracy, and our lives. Several have come out of a clear blue morning sky.

Dec. 7, 1941 in Hawaii began with just such a morning..

But it was not just “a date that will live in infamy,” in the words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (D), which he used to begin a speech to Congress and the American people the day after the surprise bombing on the naval base at Pearl Harbor. It was also a day that marked a major transition for the United States of America.

“I think December 7, 1941, is perhaps the most important day in American history,” Paul Sparrow, director of the FDR Library in Hyde Park said in an interview aired on CBS Sunday Morning television last weekend. “It is the transition day when we shifted from being an isolationist nation to being a global superpower.”

Roosevelt initially did his best to keep the country out of World War II. The Great Depression had taken a toll on the American people, and the memory of the destruction and lives lost in World War I still lingered.

When faced with the mass destruction that took place at Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt knew he had to make a swift and decisive response to an attack he called “unprovoked and dastardly.”

Roosevelt’s rallying cry was met with an immediate response from a unified and committed nation. America retooled, fought and took on a leadership role in the world it has maintained ever since.

Seventy-five years later, we might be experiencing another total policy realignment. Will the new administration, with its America-first doctrine, lead us back to pre-Pearl Harbor isolationism? One of the most important parts of American tradition since 1941 is our willingness to lend a hand to other countries and support them. Though it remains to be seen what values our new commander in chief will maintain, we must not forget our history.

Mount Sinai’s girls’ soccer team celebrates its Suffolk County title win. File photo by Desirée Keegan

Success isn’t given, it’s earned, and our North Shore teams this fall have earned it.

Our student-athletes aren’t just building character through lessons of teamwork, or gaining strength and endurance, or learning about winning and losing — they’re leaving legacies.

Port Jefferson’s varsity girls’ soccer team celebrates a second consecutive state championship. Photo from Port Jefferson school district
Port Jefferson’s varsity girls’ soccer team celebrates a second consecutive state championship. Photo from Port Jefferson school district

Some teams may have seen their losses as failures, but we can’t forget the history that was made this season. Centereach’s football team made the postseason for the first time since 2002; Ward Melville’s field hockey faced off in the state finals for the second straight season; and Mount Sinai’s girls’ soccer team made it to the Long Island championship after claiming the program’s first county crown.

Newfield’s soccer team also made big moves this season. The boys played in the county finals for the first time, and the girls, who were part of a developmental league in 2012 — designed for weaker teams to play competitive games without the possibility of postseason play — won 11 games this season and made it to the Suffolk quarterfinals. Smithtown East’s girls’ volleyball team had a near-perfect season. They lost just one game heading into the Suffolk finals. Northport made it back to the girls’ soccer county finals after two seasons, getting over the semifinal hump. And Ward Melville’s football team will be playing in the county finals for the first time in three decades this weekend, after upsetting No. 1-seed and previously undefeated Lindenhurst last week.

And then there was total dominance by teams like the Port Jefferson’s girls’ soccer team, which brought home back-to-back state titles after its third-straight almost perfect season. Kings Park’s girls’ volleyball team cruised to its sixth straight county and Long Island titles, and plays in the state finals this weekend, and Smithtown West’s boys’ volleyball team, which brought home the school’s first county and Long Island titles this year, will also play in the state tournament this weekend.

We have fully enjoyed covering our sports teams this season and are proud of their success. Of course it’s fun to watch and write about victory, but it’s also gratifying to see the student-athletes in our coverage areas working hard to make their communities proud.

We also would like to commend all of the hardworking coaches — who are volunteers, in some cases — for their dedication to bettering our youth. With so many opportunities available for kids to stray down the wrong path, it is a breath of fresh air to see our athletes thrive.

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