Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Times They Are A Changin'

"Come Senators, Congressmen, please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway or block up the halls
We'll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
for the times they are a changin."
-Bob Dylan

An era comes to an end in Hempstead. The bright, cleansing light of the sun has begun to filter through the haze - a haze created by years of smoke and mirrors, benign neglect and an indifferent populace. A village on the brink of financial disaster. A failing school system. A bond rating just above junk. And taxes, taxes, taxes. James Garner, the eternal Mayor of Hempstead, is now history.

In the days of business as unusual, you-know-what hitting the fan wouldn't matter much to the more or less complacent electorate. Party line. Name recognition. Incumbency. You're in. Not any more. In a crowded field of five, Village of Hempstead Trustee Wayne Hall soundly defeated 4-term incumbent Mayor James Garner, 2334 to 1546. Who would have thought?

Well, officialdom better start thinking. The electorate, that small but stalwart group of people who trudge to the polls on the myriad election days we have on our island (and we have many, indeed), are rubbing the sand out of their eyes and beginning to awaken. Having been tethered to life support for over a generation, flat-lined on the EEG, we are summoning up the courage to pull the plug, to take a deep, life-assuring breathe and, yes, to think on our own. How extraordinarily refreshing!

On the streets of Hempstead, they weren't talking about political party. They weren't talking about incumbency. They weren't talking about cats and dogs. No, the talk on the street was dysfunctional government, a stagnating economy, broken schools, and TAXES.

Hopefully, the message of Hempstead 2005 will resonate - in Town Hall, at the County Legislature, and up in Albany. Yes, we know your names. True, many of you have become fixtures on the political scene (some more than figuratively). Okay, you've towed the party line. But neglect the quality of life issues that Long Islanders care most about - like schools and property taxes - and we'll remember to vote for the other guy.

In the words of Thomas Jefferson, "A little revolution now and then is a good thing." The people of our island are beginning to accept this notion. Call it changing dynamics or demographics, changing mindsets, or merely changing times, the revolution is at hand. Its a quiet revolution, but a revolution just the same. Long Islanders are taking up arms, stoic guards of the status quo no more, and voting for change. BULLY!

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