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By Naja Cannon

The League of Women Voters Meet The Candidates night was hosted at Five Towns College’s Performing Arts Center earlier this evening. The event was their second consecutive year holding this panel at the college. The goal of the Meet The Candidates format is to educate voters about the issues in the campaign and provide voters the opportunity to engage with the candidates.

The candidates for Suffolk County who participated were Janet C. Singer and Robert Trotta, running for the 13th Legislative District; Susan A. Berland and Hector P. Gavilla, running for the 16th Legislative District; Thomas P. Donnelly and Michael S. McDermott, running for 17th Legislative District; and William R. Spencer and Garrett A. Chelius, running for the 18th Legislative District.

Naja Cannon interviews LWV's Dianne Slavin before the event. (Photo by Rashika Williams)

"I want you to know that these future legislators are working for you and they are responsive to issues that you are hopefully interested in,” responded LWV’s Chair of Voter Services, Dianne Slavin, when asked what she wanted students to take away from this night. Slavin stressed the issue of the younger generation getting more involved in the Suffolk County Legislature and emphasized what it is like to work for an organization like LWV. “It’s great because I’m always informed, and I get to meet great people,” she stated.

By co-sponsoring and hosting this panel at Five Towns College in Dix Hills, New York, the LWV provided student voters with knowledge about the role of the county legislature. Student, John Dalyrmple, admitted that he doesn’t regularly follow local politics but was interested in hearing the candidates’ plans to reduce opioid usage in Suffolk County.

Moderator Lisa Scott

After a welcome from Five Towns College President, Dr. David Cohen, panel moderator, Lisa Scott explained the rules before leading the candidates into their opening statements.

One question that the moderator asked that especially interested the students in attendance was how the candidates could create affordable housing for the younger generation.

To watch the full the event, click on the Five Towns College YouTube page.

Meet The Candidates Night can be described as an intense but very necessary conversation about Suffolk County. Each candidate was able to speak on issues that concerned them most and took advantage of rebutting topics where they didn’t agree. The overall tone was very respectful, even when responding to the views of their opponents.

In the closing, The League Of Women Voters encouraged Long Island residents to not only vote but to take advantage of early voting to help improve their community.

For more information on the League of Women Voters, visit their website.

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