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Meet the Candidates Night at Five Towns College

By Amy Guethlein

On October 14th, Five Towns College co-sponsored Meet the Candidates Night along with the League of Women Voters of Huntington. This event allowed voters the opportunity to learn more about the candidates and their positions on hot-topic issues from different sides of the political spectrum. The participants of this debate included Manuel Esteban Sr. and Susan A. Berland running for the 16th Legislative district, as well as Thomas P. Donnelly and Stephen C. Becker running for the Legislative 17th district.

This educational forum allowed voters to hear directly from the candidates about matters affecting their communities and the county as a whole. Because the debate was hosted here at Five Towns College, it gave college students an inside look at the role of county legislator and why it’s vital to participate in elections- even at a local level. Emily Granados, a recent Five Towns College graduate and current Associate Producer for BillOReilly.com, emphasized the importance of staying up-to-date in local politics and what this annual event does for the public:

"Meet the Candidates Night is a great way for the community to become more aware of their local politicians. As young students, it can be difficult to stay interested in government, but as we grow older, we see more and more of these issues affecting us. We need to stay active in all levels of politics because these issues can impact our entire lives."

Moderator and President of the League of Women Voters of Suffolk County Lisa Scott had each candidate give their answers on a number of topics affecting voters and their hometowns, such as the environment, mental health and care, gun safety, and the opioid crisis. The candidates also answered a question about how they plan on keeping our generation in Suffolk County. Thomas P. Donnelly’s primary focus is on jobs, with affordable housing acting as an extension. "Having the young folks being able to get jobs, whether it’s in the biotech industry, in the workforce industry, the trade schools, they’re all terrific programs that we work on every day- and I would add that the affordable housing is a component because a down payment is rough, but you have to add an area to bridge that, and I think the affordable housing fits that, but it’s gotta fit the character of the neighborhood," he said.

His opponent, Stephen C. Becker, stressed high taxes as the reason why young people are leaving Long Island. "Typically, it’s the government with the taxes that it takes from us that gets in the way and hinders growth. All the young people who are leaving here are going to places with lower taxes and with less intrusive government... So maybe we take a cue and see where they’re heading from, and we try to copy those places, so the businesses come back, the people come back, and there will be lucrative jobs for them here."

The 2021 Meet the Candidates Night was a necessary discussion about Suffolk County and the issues at hand. While each candidate has different courses of action and opposing viewpoints, the main point we can take away from this night is that no matter who is elected, they have the people’s needs and interests at heart and will do whatever it takes to improve our communities.

To watch the full debate, visit Five Towns College’s live stream at Meet The Candidates 10-14-21. Get out to the polls and make your voice heard on November 2nd.


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