Times of Middle Country

Michael and Cindy Rawdin, Dix Hills residents, said they support Hillary Clinton for president. Photo by Kevin Redding

As Long Island residents get ready for election day next week, some are certain for whom they will cast their ballot, and others are still undecided.

sarahleanzaportjeffwSarah Leanza, Port Jefferson

Q: Who are you voting for?

A: Clinton. Not because I necessarily trust her like anybody else, but because he’s [Trump] a misogynist, crazy … I think he’s horrific. I’m a little nervous about her, but I think she has a lot of experience at least, and I think what is wonderful is Trump has created a situation that’s going to make her make sure she’s accountable. I think she’s going to have to be very careful while she’s in office because there are so many people behind him who are so angry, so that makes me trust her situation better. He was like a necessary evil, I think.

Roe Waltmann, Coramroewaltmanncorame

Q: Who are you voting for?

A: I like Trump. I think he’s very gung-ho and I really believe that he can do the things he says he can do — unless I’m naïve. But I don’t want Hillary Clinton; I don’t want a politician. I want somebody with new blood that’s not a politician.

Now, he’s become a politician along the way without him realizing, but I really think he can energize [the country, but] if he doesn’t get the Republican Senate he’s not going to do too much.

Even though in his mind he’s saying he could, he can’t. And my family wants Trump too because they want somebody new, and that’s how we all feel. I think he’s so energetic and he can revitalize things, and I know he’s going to surround himself with good people. But he should keep his mouth closed sometimes.

ericcorleyportjeffw

Eric Corley, Port Jefferson

Q: Who are you voting for?

A: Clinton, because she knows what she’s doing, and there may be some stuff I don’t agree with — probably a lot of stuff — but you have to think of all the people that are going to be brought in as a result of a Clinton administration as opposed to the people who would be brought in with a Trump administration. You look at all the things that have changed over the last eight years, not all of which are good, but so much has changed and that’s all the result of who we elected. We have to think beyond the personalities and beyond whatever is in the media, so that’s why I think it’s an easy choice.

Tommy Parris, Port Jeffersontommyparrisportjeffw

Q: Who are you voting for?

A: I actually truly haven’t decided yet. I mean, I was leaning more toward Trump initially. There’s not enough accurate information out there; a lot of the stuff that they’re putting out there is very vague, very generic. They’re not being too specific in their campaigns. Everyone’s spoon feeding everybody what they want to hear. They’re basically telling them “Oh yeah, we’re going to make more money, we’re going to fix the economy.” It’s all slogans and sales pitches. And coming from someone in sales, you can see right through that. What’s the plan that goes beyond that?

I like the fact that although Trump is not as delicate as he should be or as sensitive with the way he uses his words, he’s more transparent in the sense that you know who you’re dealing with for better or worse, so you can kind of know what to expect. With Hillary, she’s more quiet, cunning; you really don’t know much what’s going on. She’s a better politician when it comes down to it. I think it would be good to have a Republican state of mind back in the office just to kind of balance things out.

raymonddiazmountsinaieRaymond Diaz, Mount Sinai

Q: Who are you voting for?

A: Donald J. Trump, because of the political corruption and the political correctness with Hillary. It just kills me all the scandals and all the people covering up for her; it’s horrible. Trump says some mean things but would you rather have someone say a bunch of horrible things to your face and be your friend or talk behind your back? Oh, it makes me sick. I am such a die-hard Trump fan, and it’s not that I love Trump. We just need change. All the corruption in the government, and she’s just a liar.

Trump’s not the best guy in the world, but even if he does a horrible job, what’s wrong with wiping out the government for four years? Getting all the corrupt people out and starting from scratch.

mikebarbamalvernewMike Barba, Malverne

Q: Who are you voting for?

A: I’m actually voting for Gary Johnson, just because I don’t agree with Hillary [Clinton] on matters, and I don’t think Trump has enough political experience for it. He just talks a little too much for my liking, so I’ll be doing the alternative independent vote.

Although Gary Johnson had some slipups on his foreign policy, I still think there should be more than a two-party system in the country. In the United Kingdom, they have more than two, as well as a few other countries.

When conservatives and liberals are so far left and far right, it’s nice to have more of a middle ground and somebody who’s more bipartisan on a bunch of matters. Even though the independents realistically won’t win — him or Jill Stein — I think there will be enough independent votes that it will be a little more eye-opening for the country in general just to see “wow, maybe there should be a third candidate to be putting in.”

michaelcindyrawdinphotowMichael and Cindy Rawdin, Dix Hills

Q: Who are you voting for?

Michael: I’d only vote for Clinton. I know she’s imperfect but I would never dream of voting for [Trump] because I know him personally and he’s a disgraceful human being. I owned a website, GoTrump.com, that we opened in January 2006. We had it for 3 years with that “lovely” man. His staff was great, he was disgraceful … always.

Cindy: We brought him into the online travel industry. He wasn’t it in then in 2006. But because of his greed as well, we did not make a lot of money because Trump cut the biggest piece of pie for himself. We really know that Clinton is the brightest and most sophisticated and most experienced, and she’s an elitist. She’s intelligent.

Michael: She actually knows what she’s speaking about. The other one is faking it at all times. He didn’t even prep for the debates, which I found truly amazing. People are so desperate for change that they’ll vote for a psychopath. He’s really quite sick. The stupid things he says, the idiotic way he reacts, the fact that he screwed thousands of little guys out of their money. They’d go work at the Taj Mahal and just get screwed. He’s so unfit to be anything but a… make believe billionaire. He’s just a fraud.

craigmarcottwCraig Marcott, Huntington

Q: Who are you voting for?

A: It’s really an election of the perceived lesser of two evils in this case. My vote will be on the Republican ticket because I think he’s the lesser of the two evils in this one. It’s been incredible. Right down to the end, they’re just not stopping, between the email stuff on one side, the stuff on him on the other side. They’re two of the most defective candidates we’ve ever had. I’m voting more for the philosophy and for the Supreme Court justices. I don’t think our country can handle two more liberal Supreme Court justices that will rule the country for the next quarter of the century.

Image by Mike Sheinkopf
Image by Mike Sheinkopf

By Elina Mukherjee

In India, 8,431 miles away and 18 months earlier, the American election campaign was an obscure topic of discussion for me. Things would not have changed much to this present day had it not been so much of a ridiculous spectacle. From the outside, when you look at how a country like America would conduct its campaign, you expect suavity for that matter. But even to a layman, what would garner attention is the total brashness of the nature of the campaign and its controversies.

For one, Donald J. Trump has been the star of the show with his specimen of utter cloddishness and hard-hearted comments as a presidential candidate on topics related to Islam, his salacious comments on women and his brashness of belonging to the elite class. Where on one hand, many eminent leaders and visionaries root for peace and unity by bridging the gap between national mind-sets and borders, Trump, in his extremist self, is advocating the very opposite. Building a wall to prevent Mexican invasion of the country or putting an extra scan on Muslims who enter the States, to only name a few, stimulate the fire. What is unprecedented is the staggering number of Trump supporters who think him to be a fresh breath of air in the race for the White House. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has come out better, maintaining a dignified stance and prompting fewer furrowed eyebrows. But overall, this election has been nothing less than a mockery to the world of what America has come to.

Dividing in the name of religion is a potential peril. The unpalatable truth for the citizens is to understand the pressure they are under, bearing the tag of being the foremost nation in the world and always being looked up to, its leader should lead the way to a promising future because the world is in dire need of help. As an Indian, it is sad to see Indian Americans — or a group of Indians back home — supporting Trump primarily on the basis of their common abhorrence of Islam. However dark it may sound, a lot of us harbor grudges or hatred against other communities or peoples or sects. But, if a world leader starts encouraging people to express their grudges overtly, that sets a dangerous example. It unites people based on a wrong cause where the effect of such ill preaching is not limited nationally but tends to go worldwide. In order to maintain a good relationship with India, his camaraderie should be toward Indians in general and not Hindus particularly, as India also has the third largest Muslim population in the world.

Unlike American elections, Indian national elections do not have debates among the candidates. In India, and in numerous other countries in the world, candidates routinely attempt to bolster their position by slandering others, by trading insults. In a democracy, I reckon, having debates between candidates is a progressive step. However, going by the nature of the last three debates, its principal purpose seems to have been defeated for the most part.

America has always led from the front when it comes to being progressive. The cornerstone of much of Trump’s election campaign has been dissemination of negativity and animosity. Many of his proposed policies are regressive to say the least. As an outsider, I — and many others like me — fear that if America chooses divisiveness over integration, it would be a harsh moral setback for many of the developing countries.

Hillary Clinton’s lead in the polls at this point in the election cycle hardly guarantees victory. Image by Mike Sheinkopf
Hillary Clinton’s lead in the polls at this point in the election cycle hardly guarantees victory. Image by Mike Sheinkopf

By Dan Kerr

I did not vote for Donald Trump in the New York primary. His comments about women are loathsome, and I believe it is likely he kissed and groped women during his television career. However, his words and actions pale in comparison to how the Clintons have treated women throughout their careers.

Bill and Hillary Clinton represent what I call the Chappaquiddick wing of the Democratic Party. Under this umbrella, it does not matter how you treat women as long as you support abortion on demand and the appointment of liberal Supreme Court justices. For example, a senator from Massachusetts can leave a young woman to drown at the bottom of a pond, get re-elected, and go on to become “the Lion of the Senate.”

An attorney general from Arkansas can rape a nursing home executive, get elected governor and demand that a low-level state employee perform oral sex on him. The same sexual predator can then go on to become president, use a cigar to penetrate a young woman in the Oval Office, fondle and grope a recent widow who came to him for counsel, lie under oath in a sexual harassment case, get impeached and disbarred from practicing law in Arkansas and before the Supreme Court and go on to become “first gentleman.” It is also OK for Hillary to laugh as she won her first case in Arkansas, when she minimized the sentence of a 41-year-old man who so savagely raped a 12-year-old girl that she could never have children. If you are concerned about how to explain Donald Trump to your daughters, how will you explain the Clintons?

The Sunday New York Times included “I Live in a Lie: Saudi Women Speak Up.” It documents the oppression of women in Saudi Arabia. A March 8, 2015, New York Times article (“Hillary Clinton Faces Test of Record as Women’s Advocate”) disclosed that Saudi Arabia had given more than $10 million to the Clinton Foundation. While Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state, the State Department faulted Saudi Arabia for “a lack of equal rights for women and children,” and said “violence against women, human trafficking and gender discrimination, among other abuses, were all common there.” Apparently, the Chappaquiddick wing provides cover to “fight for women” while simultaneously collecting tens of millions from Saudi Arabia and the like-minded misogynist states of the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Algeria and Brunei.

Today in The Hill, Assistant FBI Director James Kallstrom (the man who headed the TWA 800 investigation) stated, “the Clinton’s are a crime family.” I am reminded of the climactic scene in “Godfather II” when Kate confronts Michael Corleone over her recent miscarriage. “Oh, Michael. Michael, you are blind. It wasn’t a miscarriage. It was an abortion. An abortion, Michael. Just like our marriage is an abortion. Something that’s unholy and evil … It was a son, Michael! A son! And I had it killed because this must all end!” For the good of this country, I believe the “unholy and evil” reign of the Clintons must end as well.

A few days before FBI Director Comey’s letter to Congress, Kimberley Strassel wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “This is how the Clintons operate; they do not change. Anyone that pulls the lever for Mrs. Clinton takes responsibility for setting the nation up for all of the blatant corruption that will follow.” The Clintons are the greater of two evils.

Greg Fischer, left, and incumbent State Sen. Ken LaValle, right, will compete to represent New York’s 1st Senate District. Photos by Alex Petroski

Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) has been a New York State senator for nearly four decades, and although he’s joked about retirement, he doesn’t plan on vacating the position just yet. That won’t stop Democratic challenger Greg Fischer from trying to unseat him Nov. 8.

According to a 2015 New York Public Interest Research Group Report, LaValle was ranked second of 63 legislators in words said on the Senate floor, second in bill introduction, fourth in those that passed the senate and second in those that passed both houses.

“It’s a record of relevancy that I think is pretty good,” LaValle said in an interview at TBR News Media’s main office when the combatants sat down to discuss their campaigns.

LaValle said he’s excited for the chance to amend the East End’s Community Preservation Fund, which is responsible for the preservation of more than 3,000 acres of vacant land on Eastern Long Island and also improves parcels of historic, recreational and environmental value. He also noted the $400 million in construction going on at Stony Brook University Hospital that will produce jobs for doctors, clerks and others.

Fischer is a business consultant who has a passion for economics, he said, and he sees the economy as the “most important issue of our day, especially for the district.”

“We’re constantly on this treadmill of tax and spend, tax and spend,” he said. “And even though I’m a Democrat and you hear Democrats labeled for that, my background is in business and my background is to find the best value.”

The candidates are in support of the two percent tax levy increase cap for property owners as a means to curb government overspending, though Fischer said he isn’t sure the policy goes far enough. “It’s only applying the brakes gently — it’s not fixing the problem,” he said.

Fischer is running on the mantra: “It’s time for a turnaround.” His platform is about reform, which he said would be a product of his background. He’s not a lawyer like many other legislators.

Fischer said he thinks new blood and a democratic representative are needed to be able to better address not just the district’s issues, but statewide issues.

“There’s so much we can do, but we’re moving so slowly,” he said. “I think that’s the danger. We all know where we’re headed. People want to move out of state. Students want to be accepted out of state so they can stay out of state.”

To combat that mentality, LaValle said he’s been conducting research on millennials, regarding whether or not they want to be homebuyers or renters, or drive a car as their primary means of transportation. LaValle co-sponsored legislation to allow municipalities to continue tax exceptions for first-time homebuyers of newly constructed homes as an incentive. He is also a supporter of New York State’s School Tax Relief Program, which lowers property taxes for owner-occupied primary residences. As chairman of the Higher Education Committee, LaValle said he’s also trying to address how to minimize millennial debt.

Fischer said he’s a proponent of free tuition for Suffolk County and New York State residents.

Fisher has run unsuccessful campaigns for Riverhead Town and local school board offices. He previously sued the Long Island Power Authority and conducted his own audits of Riverhead school district. More recently, he filed a lawsuit claiming Stony Brook University named its football stadium for LaValle after he secured $22 million in state funds for the venue’s construction, stating in his notice of claim that “It is ludicrous for sitting legislators (seeking re-election or otherwise) to have public structures named for them for the de facto benefit of their personal political careers.” Fischer asked LaValle’s name be removed from both the Nov. 8 ballot and the stadium. The arena was opened and named after LaValle in 2002.

Fischer said another issue he’d like to address is corruption in the courtroom, and added he’d like to see cameras allowed in state courtrooms.

“I think there needs to be more scrutiny of the judicial process,” he said. “We have a huge problem with corruption. There have been a lot of problems where the transcripts are changed after the fact, and things happen that are problematic.”

Fischer also said he believes legislation takes too long in New York, and cited response to the growing opioid abuse issue as an example. While LaValle said it’s his No. 1 priority — adding that many of his colleagues say the same — he believes increased penalties for dealers could put a dent in that problem.

Fischer said he understands enforcement sells, but added it’s only part of the solution.

“Of course we have to do some more enforcement, but it’s a mental health issue,” he said. “We have reasons for people doing these drugs — even in the suburbs — it’s despair. By the time you’re detecting use, you’ve already got a real problem going on. We have to have a whole new way of thinking about deterrence and really scaring children into the reality that, as a first use, you could have a dependency for life.”

U.S. Marine Corps veteran Gregory Moore and his wife Elissa watch their new roof being installed by All Pro Remodeling, with materials donated by Owens Corning. Photo by Alex Petroski

By Alex Petroski

It’s impossible to adequately thank military members and their families for their sacrifices, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

The Port Jefferson Station-based company All Pro Remodeling teamed up with manufacturer Owens Corning to provide veteran Gregory Moore and his family with a new roof for their home on Sandpiper Lane in Coram Nov. 1. All Pro supplied the labor free of charge and Owens Corning donated the materials as part of their Roof Deployment Project. The 501(c)(3) charity Support Our Troops assisted in selecting the Moores.

“I’ve heard of things like this, but it never happened to me,” Moore said. “I was always grateful for any veteran getting help, because there’s a lot of veterans in need that are too proud to say they need a roof, a car, or any help because we were raised like that — to be independent. So when things like this happen to me, it’s just amazing.”

Moore, 39, and his wife Elissa have lived in the home for five years with their two sons — Dana, 15, and Mason, 10. Moore served in the United States Marine Corps for eight years and currently works out of MacArthur Airport as a member of the National Guard.

He said his roof had several leaks and the family was already budgeting to repair it in the near future. Moore and his wife both recounted the moment he broke the news to her over the phone. Understandably, there were tears.

“It means a lot — it debunks all of the stories out there that we don’t appreciate our veterans, because we do.”

— Elissa Moore

“It means a lot — it debunks all of the stories out there that we don’t appreciate our veterans, because we do. There are a lot of programs out there that benefit military families. It shows that military families are appreciated. The sacrifices that are made, it affects not only the soldier, but the family as well.”

All Pro Remodeling owner Mike Hughes said he’s had this idea for some time.

“This is the first time I’m doing something like this,” he said. “I always wanted to, I just didn’t have the means. This year it worked out, so I was happy to give back and help a veteran.”

Moore said he has some plans for the money they’d been saving now that the roof no longer needs fixing. The couple plans to bring their son Dana to visit the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, and they’ll also be renovating a bathroom in their home.

“Thank you to Owens Corning and All Pro,” Moore said. It’s awesome. I’m very grateful for it.”

Owens Corning sales manager for the North East region Joe Russo embraced the importance of taking care of veterans.

“It’s something that makes me proud of my company, that they support military families,” he said. “They’re the ones that protect our freedom and it makes me feel good that we can do something like this.”

Stony Brook University women’s soccer team drafted 4-year-old Rylie Laber. Photo from Stony Brook University

Kevin Redding

On July 4, 1939, New York Yankees legend Lou Gehrig stood before 60,000 fans at Yankee Stadium and confirmed his diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and closed his statements by saying: “I might have had a tough break — but I have an awful lot to live for.”

This sort of display of courage and determination in the face of great affliction is now being echoed by a 4-year-old girl named Rylie Laber, a student at Middle Country’s Bicycle Path Pre-K/Kindergarten Center, who loves to play soccer and takes great joy in learning new things in the classroom.

Those who know her best describe her as energetic, loving, happy, competitive and sassy, with a great laugh. Her spirited personality serves as the ultimate remedy for the rare genetic disorder she’s suffered from since she was 6 months old.

Stony Brook University women's soccer head coach Brendan Faherty places a cap on Rylie’s head after she was drafted. Photo from Stony Brook University
Stony Brook University women’s soccer head coach Brendan Faherty places a cap on Rylie’s head after she was drafted. Photo from Stony Brook University

Called Shwachman Diamond Syndrome, the disorder causes bone marrow failure, pancreatic insufficiency, malabsorption of food and vitamins, and growth difficulties. For most of her life, Rylie’s day-to-day schedule has consisted of countless doctor and hospital appointments, infections, taking medications with every meal, bruising easily, mouth sores, and a lot of dehydration due to fevers. Even two hours of mindless fun at Chuck-E-Cheese when she was only 2 years old led to a miserable three months of being sick with a chronic cold and fever.

But since late August, when she was taken under the wing of SUNY Stony Brook’s women’s soccer team through the Team Impact program, she’s turned over a new leaf and has something to consistently look forward to. In turn, her involvement as an honorary team member has made life better for her family, and the team itself has been impacted greatly by her fun-loving presence.

Rylie’s grandmother Mary Balint, who has full custody, which she shares with Rylie’s father, said that even with her illnesses, Rylie’s always been very cheerful and happy, and that’s only increased tenfold since joining the team.

“She is pushing forward and she absolutely loves her team,” Balint said. “Just last month she had asthmatic bronchitis and every day she was like ‘I’m not letting this stop me. I’m going to practice. I’m going to be with my team, I’m going to do what I have to do,’ so she’s definitely fighting through whatever she needs to fight through to stay with this. She’ll do anything for them. It’s just made her so much stronger.”

Because of how rare Rylie’s illness is, every other year she and Balint journey to Camp Sunshine — which provides retreat and support for kids with life-threatening illnesses and their families in Maine — for a medical conference. This is where Balint first heard about Team Impact, the organization that drafts kids to become members of local college athletic teams.

Initially, as Balint was looking into the program and submitting Rylie’s application, she was told that they generally didn’t start kids until they were 5, but that was until they learned that she had a special interest in soccer — which she’d been playing since she was 3.

Rylie Laber stretches with the Stony Brook University women’s soccer team. Photo from Mary Balint
Rylie Laber stretches with the Stony Brook University women’s soccer team. Photo from Mary Balint

That’s when the organization touched base with Brendan Faherty, Stony Brook’s new head coach of the women’s soccer team, who, along with the student athletes, took to her immediately. Rylie joins the Seawolves in the weight room, goes to practice and games, stretches with them on the sidelines, and kicks the ball. As Balint says, everything they do, she does. According to Faherty, it didn’t take long for Rylie to be herself among her new friends and teammates.

“In the beginning, she was a little bit shy,” he said, “but that lasted about five minutes. She’s super outgoing. She just wants to talk to everybody — goes from one player to the next — and she’s got a great attitude, and really cares about everybody in the program. … We try to spend as much time as we can with her. We went to one of her soccer games and she’s actually really good. She’s super aggressive on the field and she scores a lot of goals and just seems to really love soccer.”

In terms of Rylie’s impact on the students on the team, Stony Brook senior and teammate Lindsay Hutchinson said that Rylie was with them for almost the entire season, and every day the Seawolves spent with her was guaranteed to be a good day. The Stony Brook team even improved upon its record this season with Rylie by their side.

“She just kind of puts everybody in a good mood,” Hutchinson said. “Personally, it gives me a greater appreciation of life, because Rylie just walks around like the happiest child in the world, even though she has a lot of things going on — probably more than we realize. She clung to us right away. Every time she comes to see us, whether it’s at practice or a game, she’ll run right out on the field and give us all hugs.”

For Balint, it was always important that Rylie be kept in the loop as to what was happening with her medically, rather than try to mask it, and said that she knows a lot more about her illness than a 4 year old should. At school, she stays on top of all the medication she needs to take and makes sure that she’s using her own crayon box, to avoid coming in contact with others’ germs, and even a small cold could wipe her out for three weeks straight. Being on the team is Rylie’s incentive to keep herself in tip-top shape, especially since she’s going to be part of the team again next year.

“Sometimes, I sort of use it as a bargaining chip,” Balint said. “If she won’t do something that she has to do, I’ll say to her ‘you think your team would like that?’”

In fact, the team has such an effect on her that she’s even developed a variety of superstitions once it’s game time.

“She has to wear the strings out of her shorts,” Balint said, “and she’s gotta wear her red jersey to school and white jersey to the game. Right before every single game, she runs to the coach with a package of Scooby Doo fruit snacks and he has to eat them. It’s been her little superstitious tradition now.”

Democrat Peter Magistrale and State Sen. John Flanagan battle each other, and Independent Stephen Ruth for the right to represent the 2nd district Nov. 8. Photos by Desirée Keegan

St. James resident Peter Magistrale, 24, is taking his first swing at elected office, challenging New York State Sen. and Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) to represent the 2nd district.

The candidates met and discussed why they think they could best represent their constituents at TBR News Media’s main office.

Magistrale (D) said he is running for office because he wants to tackle political corruption.

“I see government at all levels as a tool for powerful people to get what they want,” he said. Magistrale said he wants to focus on ways to reform campaign finance and laws to protect children in sexual abuse cases, among his other platform issues.

“I don’t believe in vigilantism. I don’t like red light cameras, and I voted against them.”

— John Flanagan

Flanagan said he’s proud to be the first majority leader from Suffolk County, and proud of the legislation he has helped pass, including a package of bills to combat the county’s opioid abuse problem and restoring funding taken from school districts by the Gap Elimination Adjustment. Flanagan has served in the New York Senate for 14 years, and before that served in the New York State Assembly for 16 years.

Part of Magistrale’s campaign has been dedicated to supporting the Child Victims Act, which is legislation that would eliminate both criminal and civil statutes of limitation for child sexual abuse, and provide a one-time, one-year window in the statute of limitations to enable victims whose claim was time-barred by the current arbitrary limitations to revive their claim.

“A child who’s sexually abused cannot come forward after they’ve turned 23,” Magistrale said. “That’s not protection. That’s protecting financial interests who do not want the law changed. To say that the current law protects children — it does not.”

Flanagan agreed this is a serious issue, but did not agree with how Magistrale wants to approach the issue.

“There are significant protections in the law right now,” he said. “This is a one-year opener that could bring cases going back 40, 50, 60 years. We have statutes of limitations for very cogent reasons and no matter how emotional a subject may be, witness availability, evidence, all those things have a salutary effect in terms of what happens.”

Stephen Ruth, referred to as the Red Light Robin Hood, is also running against the two candidates for the 2nd district seat, but did not respond to request for comment. Ruth is an outspoken critic against the red light camera program on Long Island and has been arrested for tampering with red light cameras.

“I don’t believe in vigilantism,” Flanagan said of Ruth’s actions. “I don’t like red light cameras, and I voted against them.” The state senator said that while this program was first suggested as a safety issue, it now seems like more of a measure to increase revenue.

Magistrale said he agreed with most of Flanagan’s sentiments.

“I think there is a good enough reason to look at if the red lights were shortened,” Magistrale said. “Shortening a yellow light is just as dangerous, and I think we ought to have an investigation to find out if they really were shorted or not.”

“A child who’s sexually abused cannot come forward after they’ve turned 23. That’s not protection. That’s protecting financial interests who do not want the law changed.”

— Peter Magistrale

The candidates found some common ground on education, and agreed the system is in need of improvement.

Magistrale said he believes Common Core has lost the consent of the citizens.

“We’ve had opt out rates, from grades three through eight, over 50 percent …what does that say?” Magistrale said. “Having standardized exams that reinforce memorization is not a way to create free thinkers. In a time in our history where crimes are being committed in the highest places of government, we need people who will ask questions, not be obedient.”

Flanagan said he’s had many hearings and meetings on the subject throughout the state.

“This is one subject area where I know more than frankly anybody in the Legislature,” he said. “I don’t like the exams … but all those tests are overwhelmingly mandated by the federal government.” Flanagan said despite the problems with Common Core, changes on the federal level need to be put in place to improve the current system, rather than tearing it down and starting over.

Congressman Lee Zeldin and challenger Anna Throne-Holst face off in the 1st Congressional District, which many have called a ‘surrogate race’ for the presidential election. Photos by Alex Petroski

By Kevin Redding

A clashing of opinions on almost every issue gave way to a tense debate between an incumbent Republican congressman and a former Southampton Town supervisor as the race for the 1st Congressional District seat enters its final stretch.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who graduated from Albany Law School before serving in the U.S. Army Reserve, was first elected into the House of Representatives in 2014 and seeks to maintain that position Nov. 8. He must first win re-election, however, against Democrat Anna Throne-Holst, whose work in local government has been guided by a “people over politics” platform in an effort to make government work for everyone.

The candidates sat down at the TBR News Media office Oct. 27 to square off on a variety of pressing local and national topics, like the environment, veterans issues, Planned Parenthood and the presidential election.

Zeldin has accomplished plenty in his 21 months representing the district, which encompasses most of central and eastern Suffolk County, and takes pride in his willingness to work with absolutely anyone, regardless of party.

“Everyone is entitled to and wants clean air and clean water, and whatever we can do to advance that is important.”

— Lee Zeldin

He has worked hard to help veterans suffering from PTSD, secured the repeal of the saltwater fishing license fee, and fought to block the federal government’s proposed sale of Plum Island.

Throne-Holst has built and run organizations mostly geared toward educational and essential services for families in need of support, worked at the U.N. Department of Peacemaking, and wants to utilize the work she’s done abroad to fix what she calls “thorny foreign policy decisions that we are dealing with.”

She’s committed to providing a service to families and young people in the community who she said have been sorely underserved. She said Congress is at an all-time low approval rating and has not done enough to deal with the critical issues the country is facing.

Before the candidates focused their discussion on the environment, there were accusations from both sides regarding the Environmental Protection Agency.

“All due respect, I think it’s important to note the things where funding has either been slashed or not put forward,” Throne-Holst said. “When I think about things, like the EPA, that he voted to decrease funding for … and the kind of funding that supports programs that are crucial to our residents here in district one New York, and that have been mired in partisan politics in Washington, that is part of what I think is troubling.”

Zeldin refuted Throne-Holst’s statements.

“My opponent repeatedly states that I voted multiple times to defund the EPA,” he said, demanding specific bill numbers from Throne-Holst. “That is not truthful. When there was a vote to cut EPA funding by 17 percent, I voted against the cut. My opponent didn’t read the bill. There are ways to improve the EPA and strengthen the relationship between the EPA and Congress and the American people.”

Zeldin introduced a Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act alongside Congressman Steve Israel, and said the health of the Sound would be an important issue if he secured another term.

He talked specifically about his involvement in raising money for the National Estuary Program, which provides grants to states threatened by pollution and overuse, and his proposals in relation to Plum Island.

“Everyone is entitled to and wants clean air and clean water, and whatever we can do to advance that is important,” Zeldin said.

Throne-Holst spoke more broadly about the hazards of climate change, an issue Zeldin has questioned the legitimacy of in the past, and sea-level rise. She said there isn’t a single homeowner or business owner in the region immune to climate change. She said the federal government has a responsibility to lead the way in putting together a climate change resiliency plan, district by district.

The debate turned even more contentious when the focus shifted to their respective stances on Planned Parenthood.

Zeldin, who voted for a bill that would halt funding for the organization for a year, was asked whether or not he believed it should be defunded.

“I believe in a woman’s right to choose. I don’t think it’s a question of a personal experience. I think it’s a question of respecting the civil rights of every American.”

— Anna Throne-Holst

“I respect the position amongst American taxpayers who do not want their dollars to go toward funding abortions,” he said. “I certainly have a sensitivity and respect for both sides of this issue … but the idea that it can be legal for someone to be able to decide to get an abortion in the eighth month or ninth month, that is something that I very strongly disagree with.”

When pressed for clarification on the organization’s funding, Zeldin said “as far as funding abortion services, yeah [it should be halted].”

Throne-Holst called their views on the issue a very clear line in the sand.

“I believe in a woman’s right to choose,” she said. “I don’t think it’s a question of a personal experience. I think it’s a question of respecting the civil rights of every American. The idea that government has any role to play in making that decision for anyone goes against any provision of humanity.”

Zeldin has publicly supported Republican nominee Donald Trump in the race for the White House in the past, though he said we have two flawed options for president, referring to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton as well. He offered no defense for Trump’s well-documented controversial statements, including the Access Hollywood leak wherein Trump boasted about sexually assaulting women.

He said he sides with Trump on many issues, like improving foreign, tax and immigration policies and defeating “Islamic Extremism.” He said he agrees with Trump more than he agrees with Clinton.

Throne-Holst accused her opponent of going on CNN numerous times to defend Trump in the past. She said there is no excuse for overlooking the statements Trump has made and “allowing this man to be the supreme leader of this country and be the role model for our children.”

Staff members from the Sachem Public Library’s Community Services Department pose with Lidia Bastianich after the event: from left, Patrice Prawicka, Debra Vigliotti, Lauren Gilbert, Anne Marie Tognella, Lidia, Lorraine Silvering, Barbara DiPalmo, Karen Brady and Wendy Schlactus. Photo from Annemarie Tognella
The chef speaks to the a large audience at Sachem Public Library on Oct. 30. Photo from Annemarie Tognella
The celebrity chef speaks to the a large audience at Sachem Public Library on Oct. 30. Photo from Anne Marie Tognella
Teen librarian Kyle Quenneville gets his signed copy of Bastianich’s new book. Photo from Annemarie Tognella
Teen librarian Kyle Quenneville gets his signed copy of Bastianich’s new book. Photo from Annemarie Tognella

TUTTI A TAVOLA A MANGIARE!

Approximately 375 fans of celebrity chef, author and restaurateur Lidia Bastianich attended a talk and book signing event at Sachem Public Library in Holbrook last Sunday in honor of Italian Heritage Month. Lidia signed copies of her latest book, “Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Great Italian Cook,” and posed for pictures with attendees both before and after her talk.

Lidia spoke about growing up in Italy and moving to the United States at the age of 12, how she got started in television with the help of Julia Child, going into business with her children and how important family is to her. She described some of the differences between Italian and Italian-American cuisine, how proud she is to be from “the two best countries in the world” and answered some cooking questions from the audience. The crowd was thrilled to meet her and enjoyed her personal anecdotes.

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Rafael Celanti gets a shot on goal off a corner kick. Photo by Desirée Keegan

By Desirée Keegan

Rafael Celanti started off this season as a center midfielder, and after the decision to move him to center forward, the sophomore’s coaches — and the rest of the Newfield boys’ soccer team — are reaping the benefits.

Nick Gomez heads the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Nick Gomez heads the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Celanti repeatedly came through for his team after the change, and helped the Wolverines make history. He scored early for his second game-winning goal of the postseason in a 2-0 victory over previously undefeated Hauppauge (15-1-3) Oct. 31, which sent his team to the Suffolk County finals for the first time in school history.

“He’s been a superstar,” Newfield’s 12-year head coach Jamie Santiago said of Celanti. “He’s doing everything a center forward does — he holds the plays up, he scores goals, he’s so elusive there. We wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for him.”

Celanti scored in the eighth minute of the contest when he blasted a shot into the bottom left corner.

“I saw the center back coming inside, and he backed away and thought the goalie was going to pick it up, so I ran and got to it first,” the sophomore said. “I’m speechless. Newfield never made it this far and I’m happy to be part of it.”

The Wolverines battled through its 16-1-1 season tallying nine shutouts with a handful of come-from-behind wins. Senior center back John Alves knew what it would take to get the Wolverines further than any Newfield team had been before.

“I told the boys it’s going to be a battle, but it’s just going to be another game of soccer,” he said. “I told them we need to settle down and play our game, and we scored early, which helped our emotions.”

Anthony Mauri screams in celebration following the semifinal win. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Anthony Mauri screams in celebration following the semifinal win. Photo by Desirée Keegan

After several pushes made by Hauppauge to even the score, sophomore center attack and midfielder Nick Gomez put the game out of reach when he headed in a free kick by senior Mike DiDominico.

“It’s an indescribable feeling,” he said of the team making history, adding he was also thankful that his coach didn’t listen to him when he asked for a substitute to get him off the field right before the free kick. “It felt great to make it in and extend the lead for my team.”

Santiago said he was proud of his team’s achievements this season, which so far include nabbing the League III title and making it to the Class AA finals after not making the semis in 17 years.

“These guys have been through so much all season long,” he said. “There’s been peaks and valleys of emotions and to be the first team to make the finals is historic, and I couldn’t be more proud of everyone and their effort. It’s a joyous occasion for all of us.”

Santiago also credited Alves, the team’s leader on the back line. Sophomore goalkeeper Loui Chen made several diving, quick-reaction saves to maintain the clean sheet. He finished with eight saves.

No. 3 Newfield will face No. 4 Brentwood in the finals at Diamond in the Pines in Coram Nov. 4 at 7 p.m.

While Santiago said Brentwood is a program the Wolverines aspire to be like, Alves said his team has the right mindset to continue to make history.

“This season’s been a war, and we’ve battled the entire time to come out on top,” he said. “The emotions are crazy right now. I’m happy to finally do something for the school — put ourselves on the map. I tell my teammates to fight for the person next to you and play as hard as you can, and I’m confident we can continue to battle to reach new heights. We’re here to play.”