NEW YORK – It’s the most important public office in Suffolk County, and today the candidates running for county executive face off in a first-of-its-kind debate. Daniel Altschuler, an organizer with the Long Island Civic Engagement Table [a project of Make the Road NY], says most New Yorkers know that racial tensions have been running high in Suffolk County. What is different about this debate, he adds, is that most of the questions were thought up by civic organizations from a wide cross-section of political perspectives.
Altschuler expects the debate to focus on under-served communities.
“If we look at the Latino and African-American communities in Suffolk County, we are talking about roughly one-quarter of the population. We are including working-class communities of color at the forefront of this debate, to make sure that those voices are heard.”
Angie Carpenter, the Republican candidate for county executive, and the Democrat candidate, Steve Bellone, have both agreed to appear at the debate. It starts at 7 p.m. at Central Islip Senior High School.
Silvana Diaz, the publisher of Long Island’s weekly Latino newspaper, “Noticia,” says the distribution of financial resources in the county will be scrutinized.
“When you go through town-to-town – such as Wyandanch and Brentwood – compared to other towns on Long Island, you can see that lesser resources are being allocated to our communities.”
Diaz adds that the candidates for county executive will need to show they stand for a different attitude when it comes to public safety issues in Suffolk County.
“To ease those tensions in the communities and reduce the hate crimes, the Suffolk County police treatment sometimes needs to be changed toward the minority communities.”
The U.S. Department of Justice put the outgoing county executive on notice that the Suffolk County Police Department needs to be more responsive to communities of color.
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