This race for an open seat features two candidates who’ve been around, but one has learned a lot more about the workings of government along the way.
Republican Joseph P. De Stefano, 58, of Medford, a fire commissioner for 23 years and a dispatcher for the Suffolk sheriff’s office, says his experience has taught him to listen more and talk less. It’s a good mantra.
De Stefano understands the difficulty of getting bills passed as a member of the minority party, and says, for example, that he would work with Democrats on a package of ethics reforms. He wants law enforcement personnel stationed in every school building and supports renewable energy projects like solar and wind.
De Stefano understands how governments function, having collaborated with county and state officials in the sheriff’s office and lobbied in Albany on firefighter matters. Combined with his deep knowledge of the district — he knows the condition of its roads, which sewer drains flood, and where overhanging trees limit drivers’ sight lines — he would excel at constituent service, which often is where minority members make their mark.
Democrat Clyde E. Parker, 71, of Bellport, a retailer whose shoe and clothing stores here and abroad employ nearly 200 people, brims with passion. He identifies issues he feels strongly about — like education, the environment, sewers and the opioid crisis — but lacks ideas to solve them. He says corruption is a major problem in Albany but admits he’s not sure how to solve it other than making criminal penalties tougher. He rightly deplores the tribal political wars he says are destroying the country and says nothing can be achieved without unity. His earnestness is compelling, but his learning curve to serve in state government is just too steep.
Newsday endorses De Stefano.