Growing a Diverse Long Island: A Candidate Debate for Suffolk County Executive—Nov. 3


For the first time ever, candidates for Suffolk County executive will meet to debate about strengthening diverse communities on Long Island.

The event, “Growing a Diverse Long Island: A Candidate Debate for Suffolk County Executive,” will be cosponsored by Long Island Wins, and is being co-hosted by the Spanish-language newspaper Noticia and the Long Island Civic Engagement Table. Community members representing a cross-section of organizations will have the opportunity to question the candidates in the areas of economy, public safety, social services, and education.

Read more about the debate from the Long Island Civic Engagement Table:

November 1, 2011
For Immediate Release

Noticia and the Long Island Civic Engagement Table Co-Host “Growing a Diverse Long Island: A Candidate Debate for Suffolk County Executive”

What: A debate between the candidates for Suffolk County Executive, with unprecedented community participation
When: Thursday, November 3, 7-9pm.  Doors open at 6pm
Where: Central Islip Senior High School Auditorium

On Thursday night, community members from Suffolk County will have the opportunity to participate in a ground-breaking political debate in the race for County Executive. The debate, co-hosted by Noticia, Long Island’s largest Spanish-language newspaper, and the Long Island Civic Engagement Table (LICET), will feature candidates Angie Carpenter (R) and Steve Bellone (D). For the first time ever, this debate will feature direct participation from community members from an extensive range of grassroots organizations in Suffolk County, opening a dialogue that LICET will nurture in years to come.

Participants will present questions regarding the needs of Long Island’s diverse communities, with particular emphasis on the economy, public safety, and social services and education. This unprecedented debate—the last this year—will bring the candidates face-to-face with their constituents, offering voters the most direct opportunity of this campaign to hear both candidates’ agendas on the issues of most concern to Suffolk County’s diverse population.

In recent years, County Executive Steve Levy has used his position to scapegoat immigrants, while ignoring the needs of working people. During this time, hate crimes against Latinos—most notably, the killing of Marcelo Lucero in 2008—became widespread in Suffolk County, creating a climate of fear. At this Thursday’s debate, representatives of community organizations will signal their intention to engage with the new county executive—irrespective of which candidate prevails—to ensure that the county does not repeat the mistakes of the recent past. By allowing questions in other languages and offering simultaneous translation to those with limited English abilities, the debate will also provide a prototype for a new, inclusive politics in Suffolk County.

María Magdalena Flores, a member of Make the Road New York, noted: “For too long, immigrant communities have been excluded from the political conversation and used as scapegoats by irresponsible politicians in Suffolk County. This debate marks the beginning of a new era, when we will demand that politicians listen and respond to our communities’ needs.”

Elizabeth Granados, a member of New York Communities for Change, added: “For too long, Suffolk politicians have ignored the needs of our working-class communities. Now, as we face a foreclosure crisis and possible school cuts, this debate offers a critical opportunity to demand that the candidates listen to our problems directly and explain their plans to address them.”

Patrick Young, program director of CARECEN and vice-chair of the Long Island Immigrant Alliance, noted: “Suffolk politicians have used immigrants as scapegoats for a decade, without realizing the men and women they vilified were the fastest growing component of the electorate. This debate is a laudable recognition by Steve Bellone and Angie Carpenter that immigrants hold significant electoral clout that will only increase over the next four years.”

Featured community groups at the debate will include LICET members Make the Road New York, New York Communities for Change, the Long Island Immigrant Alliance, and the Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN), as well as other groups including the NAACP and the Long Island Progressive Coalition.

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The Long Island Civic Engagement Table is a new initiative to transform the culture of civic participation and government accountability in Long Island. The Table does this by nurturing grassroots participation and leadership in working-class communities, particularly in communities of color.  The Table seeks to work with these communities to turn the tide of anti-working class and anti-immigrant politics and build a common platform for working people.

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