2005-06-17 / Columnists

On The Beach

With Beverly Baxter Calling All Rockaway Republicans

With Beverly Baxter
Calling All Rockaway Republicans

BEVERLY BAXTER  As the weather heats up, so too does the political season; and with it comes a potentially ominous forecast. Lucky for us, there are several primary elections coming up, enabling Republican candidates to compete the old-fashioned way: by earning it. The petition process, whereby candidates garner enough signatures to be placed on the ballot, was launched on June 7th.

There are several important positions being contested. The first, of course, is the Republican Primary for Mayor between the incumbent, Mike Bloomberg, and former two-term City Councilman and Minority Leader, Tom Ognibene. The lesser known, but perhaps more important, races effecting Rockaway are for the District Leadership and the County Committee.

What’s at stake? Fair representation of our community. Of course, we all know who the Co-Democratic district leaders are in our area; however, if you go door-to-door and ask local Republican residents whom our Republican district leaders are, most will shrug their shoulders and offer a quizzical look. Perhaps the reason is one part geography, one part apathy, and yet another part mistaken identity!

 Rockaway’s Republican district leaders live over the bridge where they are geographically removed from the issues and concerns germane to Rockaway residents. Although we have extended our hearty Failte (welcome) to them, honoring them in our parades and inviting them to speak at our meetings, their attitude has been one of contemptuous disdain. It’s as if they’re saying, “Vote for me tonight and I’ll still love you in the morning!” or “see ya wouldn’t want to be ya” as they drive off over the bridge into that good night.

More than one year ago, a group of local Republicans got together on a winter’s night in a cold garage to smoke cigars and vent their frustrations with the local Republican Leadership, or lack thereof, in Rockaway. Among their litany of complaints was the fact that our current Republican leadership has been deliberate in its refusal to run candidates and mount formidable  campaigns against the Democrats.

Without a contest of dueling ideologies, Rockaway would continue to be neglected. What angered most local Republicans was that our leadership was hindering a healthy competitive process from which Rockaway could only benefit. It seemed to many that our local Republican leaders were dancing with Democrats and their alliance was hardly a graceful waltz.

The group decided that instead of passively complaining, they would band together and organize. A grassroots effort was born. They rolled up their sleeves and a momentum of their cause took off. It was not long before they were several hundred strong and moved out of the garage. They called themselves the Rockaway Republicans and began meeting regularly at the Belle Harbor Yacht Club. They hoped their numbers would gain the attention of the local leaders who would only benefit from their newly formed club. However, to their further frustration, the opposite happened. In fact, it took nearly an entire year before they would even return our phone calls inviting them to attend our meetings. The leaders felt threatened by our numbers and vowed to “crush” us. Although  their attitude added to our confusion, it galvanized our purpose and determination to continue. Since we had a viable and growing membership, all we asked of our leaders is that we be granted a Charter validating our presence and our right to represent our community’s needs on the County Committee. Rockaway has 94 Election Districts; yet ONLY FIVE of these E.D.s are represented on the County Committee by local residents. The remaining 89 are held by Republicans who reside in Howard Beach and points beyond and have little interest in Rockaway except to CONTROL the vote on the County Committee. It is unconscionable that Republican Rockaway residents would not be supported by the Republican district leadership in our bid for our 94 votes on the County Committee. We were told, “No. Rockaway doesn’t need a Charter. Rockaway doesn’t matter.”

With that, we resolved to look elsewhere. You should remember, when our representatives fail to represent us, we have a right to fire them. It’s called an election. Enter Eric Ulrich and Rosemary Duffy, a dynamic duo whom you will be seeing much of. They WANT the job. They are eager to WORK and EARN it. And unlike the current leaders, Eric and Rosemary have vowed, by way of certified mail, their signature of support for our application for our Charter. In fact, when they come to your door asking for your signature, spend some time talking with them. ASK questions. Interview them for yourselves You’ll be most impressed. In fact, you’ll most likely want to introduce Eric to your daughter! If you would like to become involved, you are warmly invited to join us at our next meeting on Monday, June 20 at 7:30 pm. at the Belle Harbor Yacht Club.

***Congratulations to Mary Dever Kelly and Michael Dever on the dedication of the Gerald R. Dever M.S. 180. I very much admire Mary for her unyielding commitment to Jerry’s legacy: Education. He was beloved by both colleagues and students whose lives continue to resonate his enduring effect. 

***Congratulations to Robert and Helen Endall of B. 124 St. on the birth of their daughter, Lauren Mary.

***My heartfelt condolences to the family of Jack McCann. He was a stunning and most gracious man who will be sorely missed.

See you, on the beach.

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