Editorial: Fight or unite — Local leaders hold the key to our...

Editorial: Fight or unite — Local leaders hold the key to our future

DoD photo by Samuel King Jr., U.S. Air Force/Released

As this year’s local election season comes to a close, the TBR News Media staff congratulates our newly elected officials at the county and town levels.

There is much work ahead in the coming term, with many local issues and important public business to resolve. We look forward to working with our officials to bring these issues to the public’s attention.

To those not elected Tuesday night, we strongly urge you to stay involved in our deliberative process. Incumbents need strong voices and passionate citizens who can direct them toward representative policy decisions. The issues raised and discussions shared throughout the campaign were not for nothing, so continue to speak up.

Within a broader context, many Americans are losing faith in our democratic norms. So often, petty politics erodes civility within our democracy. The bickering among politicians can give way to gridlock and a breakdown of progress. Ultimately, when politicians refuse to get along, the people lose out.

At the same time, we are confronting simultaneous regional crises from municipal solid waste disposal, wastewater infrastructure, budget stabilization and environmental degradation, among others.

Right now, the stakes are simply too high to allow for inaction in the years ahead. If our local officials fail us now, our region could undergo irreversible decline. The result will be a further exodus of people away from Suffolk County in search of a better life elsewhere.

Averting these potential calamities is easier said than done. It will require our officials put the public good over party interest or private benefit.

Political extremists and tribalists from both ends of the political spectrum tend to attract undue attention from officials and press alike. We must begin to drown out these extremes as well, lifting the voices of the more temperate majority while advancing the interests of moderate, independent-minded citizens.

To be effective, our local officials must first learn to achieve compromise. We, therefore, hope for greater bipartisanship, civility and unity in the coming term. Our community and region depend upon this critical first step. Let’s put the people first.