Growing up, my parents used to bring me with them to the local elementary school each Election Day. I still remember the joy of flipping the switches and pulling the lever that opened the curtain, casting my mother or father’s vote. I was raised to appreciate my right and responsibility to participate in elections as a good citizen, and continue the tradition now with my own children. I never took voting for granted, but it wasn’t until fairly recently that it became very apparent that elections really do have consequences, and every vote really does count. Now that I’m a mother myself, I worry about the future my children face and the community in which they will be raised, and elections matter to me more than ever. Finding and helping good people who share my strong values get into office has become a matter of urgency and a personal goal of mine.
I shifted my focus specifically to the topic of the Town of Oyster Bay politics in 2017, when I met one of the amazing candidates for Town Council, Eva Pearson. I attended Candidate Meet + Greets where Supervisor Saladino didn’t bother to make an appearance. It was here that I learned about the Town’s practice of appointing their chosen people to fill elected positions, and then running those people with an unfair advantage as incumbents. As I read about the criminal trial of former Town Supervisor, John Venditto, I thought for sure residents would show up to vote this corrupt bunch of politicians out of office. We came very close, but unfortunately a 20-year GOP machine was too tough to topple in that instance.
In 2018, I stepped up my political involvement even more. I was disappointed and discouraged, but I wasn’t giving up. I heard someone say, “If you’re not doing anything, do something. And if you’re already doing something, do more.” I took it to heart, and sought out ways to do more. Complaining on social media doesn’t count. We all need to be channeling our anger and putting our frustrations into action, doing all we can possibly do to make this world a better and safer place. I personally hosted diaper drives and teddy bear making sessions for refugee children; food drives for students who would otherwise experience hunger over school breaks; paint nights to decorate and fill care bags for patients undergoing cancer treatment, etc. Wherever I saw a need, I tried to fill it. I love the Margaret Mead quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Then I jumped all in after Parkland. As a mom of little ones (including a son who huddles with his nursery school classmates in a bathroom during lockdown drills and a daughter who must crowd behind a bookcase with 20 or so others), and a wife of a high school teacher who could potentially be put in the position of protecting someone else’s kids and not coming home to our own, I reached my breaking point. I have no tolerance for those who send thoughts and prayers, but do nothing else to solve a problem. As a politician, if you can’t or won’t do your job to protect and serve your constituents, my opinion is that you should step aside and make room for those who will work hard to make this world a better and safer place for all. I started a grassroots group and we spent the past year organizing, motivating, educating, and ultimately effecting change. We will keep at it.
This year, I’m turning my attention back to local politics. As a resident, I’ve been bothered by things like the cutting down of trees along South Oyster Bay Road, so massive trucks can pass through and pollute our neighborhoods. Recently, the Town of Oyster Bay changed its policy and no longer accepts glass or most plastics. It pains me to throw that stuff into the regular garbage. What kind of environment will we be leaving behind for our children? Plus, quality of life issues like roads in disrepair, because our taxes are covering legal fees for corrupt politicians rather than fixing potholes. But the final straw, and the issue that deeply offends me as a voter, was the most recent political appointment to the Town Council. Political appointments should be reserved for extenuating circumstances only. Instead, Town of Oyster Bay has made them a regular practice. The most recent resignation was a Councilwoman who lives in my town, Plainview. I may not have agreed with all of her votes on the Board, but she was always very responsive and helpful to our community. That’s what I’m looking for in a good public servant, and that’s the reason I crossed party lines to vote for her when she was up for re-election (of course, she too had been appointed in the first place). I was at the Town Board meeting when she stepped down, and I spoke up during the public comment section at the end. I asked Supervisor Saladino to please hold her spot open until the residents could vote on her replacement. He didn’t offer me any sort of response, and by the next meeting, her replacement was appointed. Moves like this chip away at our democracy and undermine our elections. I won’t stand for it.
I’m asking everyone who cares about this community, who is invested in making sure TOB is a good place to raise a family, to please join me in this fight and get involved. We must elect good people this year if we are to have any hope of cleaning up two decades of corruption. I will serve my community as Town Clerk fairly, honestly and with integrity. I will look for ways to help and respond to problems. I will streamline and modernize services to make them more accessible. Finally, I will be the kind of elected official you will be proud to have representing you and your family. Thank you for your support!