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OpinionEditorial

This is an 'on' election year for governance of Long Island

Voters fill out their ballots on the first

Voters fill out their ballots on the first day of early voting at the Dix Hills Fire Department in Dix Hills on Oct. 26, 2019. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

This is what's known as an off year. That's because there are no federal or state officials other than judges on the ballot. No president, governor, member of Congress or state legislator.

But "off" is a misnomer, because many of the county, town and city races to be decided by your vote Tuesday are definitely "on" and being contested ferociously.  A lot is at stake. For some voters, a local race serves as a national referendum — on important issues, or on a polarizing leader like President Donald Trump.

Early voting has heightened the interest this year, but we don't know yet  whether it will increase overall turnout. More than 250,000 New Yorkers voted in the nine-day period, nearly 50,000 on Long Island alone. Figuring out what the numbers mean has added to the fun of pre-Election Day prognostications. Voters registered as Democrats  outpaced Republicans in Suffolk County. The reverse was true in Nassau, which led every other county in total turnout. Do those results foretell success for the leaders? Did the early voters come for convenience, or were they just impatient to flex their electoral muscles?

Either way, they've had their say, and now so should the rest of you. 

In Suffolk, voters can give County Executive Steve Bellone a third term, which would be a vote to continue to move forward on big sensitive issues like clean water and protecting the environment and smart development plans that will enhance Suffolk's future.

Residents of Hempstead Town can support efforts to continue to root out corruption, in three town board races and in the reelection effort of first-term Democratic Supervisor Laura Gillen, who upset the vaunted Republican machine in 2017. The ongoing federal investigation into questionable contracts with the concessionaire for town-owned Malibu Beach Club, including payments to Republican Party officials, likely would not have started if Gillen had not won two years ago. Hempstead residents also should understand that Laura Gillen is not Laura Curran, the Nassau County executive, and this town race is not about the county reassessment, as GOP candidates and mailers have claimed. And there is a bigger context in these races — state Republican officials say if they can retake control of Hempstead Town, the party can make a real run at regaining control of the State Senate next year. Yes, there is much at stake.

The candidates on this year's ballot will make decisions on zoning and building approvals, on bus service and parking spaces, on permit fees and red-light cameras, on after-school programs and addiction treatment centers — in short, on the things that affect our daily lives. You can vote on each candidate's stand on these issues. You can cast a ballot on principle — by denying your vote, for example, to those Suffolk Democrats who sought the Conservative Party line in a revolting scheme tied to doling out judgeships. Or you can simply recognize that participating is more important than ever.

The election is on. There are many reasons to do the right thing on Tuesday. Vote.

— The editorial board

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