The candidates for Nassau County executive face off tonight in a bilingual forum that will for the first time focus on issues impacting working-class communities of color.
Steve McFarland, the Nassau County organizer for the Long Island Civic Engagement Table, says it is historic that the candidates for the county’s top job will be so focused on questions related to how they will strengthen and support diverse working-class communities on Long Island.
“What it says is, politicians are waking up and recognizing that the real engine of growth in Nassau County is working-class communities of color,” McFarland says.
The latest polls show the incumbent, Republican Edward Mangano, in the lead over Democratic challenger Tom Suozzi. The forum kicks off at 7:30 p.m. in Hempstead.
Alexandra Sanjuan with Make the Road New York says working-class people of color on Long Island want to hear candidates speak to their concerns about affordable housing and fair wages.
“But the problem is a lot of people in Nassau (County) are working overtime, and they are not getting paid the right wage for their overtime wages, you know,” she says.
Sanjuan agrees that the 15 percent growth in the African American population in Nassau County and the 48 percent jump in Latinos over the past decade is a big factor driving politicians to pay more attention to working-class issues on Long Island.
“They really didn’t look at the Hispanic communities before,” she says. “And now it’s a huge percentage in Nassau, places like Hempstead, Westbury, Hicksville, Freeport, they’ve got a really growing-up community there.”
Tonight’s forum is co-sponsored by Long Island Wins, the Long Island Civic Engagement Table and Noticia.
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