In accordance with yearly tradition, the first Tuesday following a November Monday each year is designated as Election Day in the United States. Though Election Day 2015 didn’t feature any major National or Statewide contests, there were numerous local positions up for election in our community. In addition, despite its lack of media coverage in comparison to the presidential race, the elections for these local offices often have a more direct impact on us as our local governments make designs that affect our lives on a daily basis.
In the only county-wide race this year, incumbent Steve Bellone handily won reelection as the County Executive by a margin of 16 percentage points over unknown competitor James O’Connor. All legislative district races in Suffolk went to either incumbents or candidates from the same party as the preceding office holder. Among them is Steve Stern, the well-known and highly popular Democratic legislator of our legislative district, District 16. Stern managed to win his fifth term as legislator last Tuesday, pulling in 60% of the votes in his district against Republican lawyer Tim McNally. His noticeably impressive streak of popularity among the locals is what caused him to gain his title as the only legislator to two chair committees. In the race for 17th district legislator, which encompasses smaller areas of our district in Deer Park and Dix Hills, Incumbent Lou D’Amaro also easily defeated Republican challenger Janet Heller-Smitelli. The closest race of the night was by far the election in Suffolk County’s 6th legislative district, where Democratic incumbent Sarah Anker ended up ahead of her challenger Republican Steve Tricarico by just one vote. The fate of that election and the Democratic super-majority in the County legislature lies with the uncounted 459 absentee ballots that will be tallied up in the coming weeks.
On an even more localized scale, the Town of Huntington held elections for Town Board this year. These too were won by the current incumbents as Independent Gene Cook, who was endorsed by Republicans, and Democrat Susan Berland defeated Democrat Keith Barret, Republican Jen Thompson and Conservative Micheal Helfer. Democratic Incumbent Ester Bovina also handily defeated Republican contender Monica Padres for Reciever of Taxes.
Besides the single vote decider in the 6th district, no big surprises were really witnessed on Election Day as voter seemed to back Incumbents in most cases. The most shocking revelation came days after the election, as statistics showed this year’s election turnout was the lowest in over three decades. Only 19% of eligible voters cast ballots for the races that dictated who would run their communities. Many cited partisan gridlock, corruption and general dissatisfaction with the institution of government as reasons why they didn’t turn out to vote. These dismal numbers are yet another unfortunate signal of our nation’s crippled political system. Whatever their reason may be, by not voting these people are making it impossible to find legitimate representation in government for all of those in society.