It’s Election Day: Smile and Mark Yourself Present (Op-ed)
by Meir Sternhill
For the 93rd time in New York’s 245 years as a state, voters will stream to the polls in an extended election period which ends next Tuesday to both select a governor for the next four years as well as send a reminder to elected officials that they are here.
Election Day is more like a national roll call day. Votes are studied intensively by candidates to know in which neighborhoods they should campaign next time and by elected officials to know which areas deserve services.
And we must mark ourselves “present” by voting. Not voting is a mark of affirmation for whoever wins and their policies. As President Obama said last week, brushing off an old campaign he saw, “Don’t boo, vote!”
This election in New York, which is for state and federal offices, plus four referenda, has taken on a heightened interest in the Orthodox community. The greatest number of endorsements, including most of Boro Park’s mosdos, have gone to Zeldin, a Republican congressman from Long Island. Two, from Satmar of Kiryas Joel and Skver, went to Hochul, the Democratic incumbent.
The reason the frum vote is coalescing behind Zeldin is simple — anger at the regulations adopted in September by the state’s Board of Regents that add significant oversight on yeshivas and private schools. Although Hochul is not in charge of the Board, which oversees all education matters in the state, she has refused to call them out or publicly cite her support for yeshivas.
Many are also upset at Hochul’s defending bail laws passed four years ago that have led to a soaring crime rate. Zeldin is promising to change the law and fire Manhattan’s district attorney, Alvin Bragg, who has stopped prosecuting most crimes.
The role of lieutenant governor takes an extra focus, given that two of the last three governors got their seats when the boss resigned. Unlike the president and vice president, the lieutenant governor does not run on the same ballot as the governor, although they are a team.
The Republican number 2 is Alison Esposito, whose father was Police Chief Michael Esposito. Hochul has selected former Rep. Antonio Delgado.
State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, a centrist Democrat running for his fifth term, is being challenged by Republican Paul Rodriguez, a global financier.
Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat who has gone after former President Donald Trump but has intervened in anti-Semitic zoning laws upstate, is being challenged by Republican Michael Henry.
Sen. Charles Schumer, the Democratic leader of the Senate, faces Republican Joe Pinion, a little-known former television host.
For Congress, on the lower avenues of Boro Park Democrat Dan Goldman, who argued the Democrats’ case during Trump’s first impeachment trial, faces Republican Benine Hamdan, a Lebanese-American with conservative values and a supporter of yeshivas. For the upper avenues, Democrat Yvette Clarke has Republican Menachem Raitport as an opponent.
In the legislature, state Sen. Simcha Felder and Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein are up for reelection, though both do not have any real opposition.
In addition, there are also several judges on the ballot, as well as four referendums.
The four questions up for voters to decide would authorize the state to borrow $4.2 billion to combat supposed climate change, insert affirmative action into the state constitution, set up a “racial equity” office to battle racism, and establish a “true” cost of living.
Voting is not about the candidates. Less important than who you vote for is that you vote. If you can’t support either Kathy Hochul or Lee Zeldin, vote for a third-party applicant. Vote for a write-in. Just don’t not show your face.
The community needs you. You need you. Because you are the community.
Vote this time, and the candidates will want to hear from you next time.