On Sunday, Newsday's editorial page published its wish list for leaders in 2012: Derail Iran's nuclear program, nurture Long Island's economy, make progress in Congress and contain the federal budget, among other goals. Newsday invited readers to submit their ideas for a better 2012. We heard from residents across the Island, as well as elected officials and civic leaders. Here is a sample of the responses.
Take $ out of politics
I have one priority for our leaders in 2012: to take money out of politics and force our leaders to actually serve their constituents. Our system of government has been corrupted now more than ever by moneyed interests. Campaign finance reform must establish a foothold in the national dialogue.
Nearly half in Congress are millionaires, becoming significantly wealthier while in office. How can we expect our lawmakers to make decisions in the best interests of working Americans when most are so completely out of touch with them?
Greg Arnold, Nesconset
Focus on people
America is losing its love of people in exchange for the love of the dollar. We the people are the victims, humanity, a fantasy of idealism camouflaged in green.
I am my condo, I am my car, I am my shiny watch, I am my expensive shoes, I am my political party, I am what my advisers, consultants and lawyers want me to be. But really we are overlooked, overcharged, underpaid, uneducated, misled, losing hope and now angry!
Our leaders must become human again.
Hugh G. Delgado, Farmingdale
Stop drug abuse
Most of my community concerns have to do with the children. Our nation is threatened by the overwhelming use of drugs. There has to be more education of parents of young children in recognizing the signs of drug abuse. As a nation we need to stop drugs from coming into the country.
Josephine Kaufman, East Meadow
Our leaders need to address climate change. We are destroying the environment, and emitting more pollutants than ever. The natural balance of our entire ecosystem is at stake.
If we care about our children, we will make changes, and we will do it now. There is no time to waste.
We need to switch to alternative energy, which would create jobs and create a brighter future for all of us.
Glenn Koebel, Roslyn Heights
Set higher standards
What I would like to see done by our leaders to make the world a better place can be expressed in four words: Do the right thing. This is not as simple as it sounds, but I know that it is not anywhere as difficult as our "leaders" have made it out to be.
If people are hungry, feed them. If people are homeless, give them shelter.
If you are lucky enough to be elected to a public office, hold yourself to a higher standard. Don't let your decision-making be controlled by what would get you re-elected.
Michael D. Ramundo, Islip
Fix national gov't
Eliminate all subsidies given to oil companies, ethanol production and big farmers. Undo the Supreme Court decision that allows unlimited independent expenditures by corporations on behalf of political campaigns.
Allow a referendum on the 2012 election ballots to create term limits for people serving in Congress.
Negotiate a way to save Social Security and Medicare. Cut foreign aid 10 percent to fund Social Security and Medicare. Allow Medicare to negotiate prices with drug companies.
Lewis Perlmutter, Patchogue
Draw fair district lines
My wish is that the New York State Legislature does not gerrymander the Senate or Assembly district lines. During the 2010 election, former Mayor Edward Koch's New York Uprising campaign supported redistricting reforms. Most candidates supported the NY Uprising agenda, however, once elected, some legislators suggested that it would take 10 years to implement the changes.
It is my hope that towns, like Smithtown, are not redistricted for political reasons.
Richard S. Macellaro, Kings Park
Editor's note: The writer was a candidate for the State Assembly in 2010.
Expand legal justice
I'd like to see our legislative, law enforcement and judicial leaders pass and enforce loophole-free laws guaranteed to bolster the last three words of the Pledge of Allegiance: justice for all.
Additionally, every current law on the books would be strictly enforced, or else repealed. Otherwise-good laws that failed to demonstrate a deterrent effect should add stronger, and longer, penalties.
I'd also like to see some tough new laws that would apply "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth" to nonjudicial fields including banking, finance, the housing industry, advertising (including TV commercials for prescription drugs), and election-year campaign promises.
Richard Siegelman, Plainview
Build NY's bridges
Newsday is absolutely correct: The state's economy won't thrive without the infrastructure needed to support it ["Wish list for the new year," Editorial, Jan. 1].
Major projects like the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement are looming and one-third of all state and local highway bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Facing budget deficits and a weak economy, we must find innovative ways to complete necessary projects that improve our infrastructure, economy and quality of life.
That's why New York must use public-private partnerships to help finance and deliver infrastructure projects. Used properly, these partnerships can reduce the cost and risk to the state and enable more projects to move forward by stretching current public funding.
Editor's note: The writer chairs the State Senate Transportation Committee.
Develop the economy
I wish for a year where all Long Islanders can and will work together. Where residents of all ages -- community members, business leaders, elected officials -- can come together over shared concerns for Long Island's vulnerable individuals, environmentally sensitive parcels and most distressed neighborhoods. In recent years, sustainability has become a model of economic growth, and throughout the upcoming year it will produce positive change across the region.
My hope is to bring continued planning to communities in need of revitalization for downtowns and surrounding areas. My goal is to help equip Long Islanders with resources and to leverage investments for redevelopment.
Amy Engel, Bethpage
Editor's note: The writer is the executive director of Sustainable Long Island, which advocates for environmentally sound development.