2012-10-26 / Columnists

It’s My Turn

Having My Say
Commentary By Timothy Aaron-Styles

Styles is a community activist who lives on the east end of Rockaway.

The time has come for another crucial local election in, and for, Rockaway with the political contest to fill the Councilmanic seat vacated by James Sanders who was successfully elected to the New York State Senate. The needs of the community have remained the same over the years as Rockaway slowly and steadily moved toward progress and, hopefully, an eventual positive sweeping transformation.

Based on those seemingly consistent needs, the characteristics, qualities and qualifications of aspiring elected officials, for the most part, have remained the same.

Rockaway is a specific geographical location as well as a community of diverse ethnic, cultural and economically classified groups. As such it needs elected officials who are truly visionary and community minded; officials who are committed to the various macroconstituencies. They should be academically educated, culturally exposed and dedicated to the needs and best interests of both the segmented and integrated communities of the Rockaways.

In this new and changing world, national and local environments the qualifications of our leaders must be compatible with, and sensitive to realities associated with the changes– particularly those realities that are locally pervasive and significant. Those people who are elected to represent us within the corridors of City Hall need to be globally conscious as they create and implement policies for our families, neighborhood, communities and our city; which remains the international center and cultural capitol of the world.

The people we elect must be capable of comfortably and effectively functioning within the various socio-cultural contexts and dynamics that influence and make up our social and political reality.

One of the greatest obstacles to real, authentic and sustainable growth, progress and transformation is doing the same thing over and over, repeatedly, while proclaiming and even believing that that “thing” is something else other than what it really is. It is the syndrome best described as putting: “…old wine in new bottles.”

The stagnancy, complacency and mediocrity that permeate our society from top to bottom are preserved and fueled by organizational and individual adherence to sameness and status quo; to pouring old re-fermented, oxidized and maderized wine into chic, trendy, posh and catchy new containers.

The next person who sits in the City Council seat has to be someone committed to addressing both old and emerging issues in an innovative and progressive way. That person needs to be courageously committed to representing and standing up for new ways of thinking and doing (political) business.

The type of person needed to effectively serve Rockaway needs to be someone who can seriously entertain an idea like institutionalizing the rich, diverse, cultural history and heritage of Rockaway. Absent is the cultural institution that preserves perpetuates the rich social, cultural and economic aspects of Rockaway.

Rockaway was a place, where African- Americans, Italians, Irish and European Jews co-existed and their respective cultures intermingled, diffused and exchanged. Though historically there were clear lines of geographical and physical demarcation. For the most part the peoples of Rockaway lived together. For the most part they learned together. For the most part they played together. For the most part they ate together. For the most part.

And yet there is no museum or special collections housed anywhere on the Rockaway Peninsula that one can visit to witness and reminisce and learn and recollect.

It is as if the old mansions and businesses and communities and neighborhoods and joyful experiences and organizations never even existed except in the dark, cobwebbed memories of young folks turning and turned elders, sharing stories among themselves of times, places and people long gone.

Rockaway needs new political leaders who are trained and skilled in negotiating with people and businesses and organizations no matter what their differing platforms, agendas, interests or ideologies; leaders and spokespeople who will always consider and represent what is in the best interest of all their constituents and not just those who support them with resources. Leaders and representatives committed to restoring the professed idea of higher ethical and moral (dare I say, “divine”) principles and values in and through the political process and system as often referenced and cited in the documents of this country’s Founding Fathers. Fairness, equity and equal representation.

The next city councilperson needs to be someone who is young, yes, but mature in exposure and life experience; someone academically accomplished and yet accessible and fluid in their ability to reach and communicate with those lesser educated.

The next city councilperson should be one clear and strong in his/her own vision and agenda for something new, bold, innovative, exciting, encouraging, empowering, doable and sustainable.

Just as the next presidential election is one that marks monumental “crossroads” for the country – so to is the next City Council election. Our political choices and decisions will seal the fate of this nation, as well as that of the Rockaway peninsula. Our political choices, ballots and votes will determine what lies ahead for us and for our children; for our families, neighbors and community.

These are the worst of political times; they are the best of political times.

With this these things in mind, I throw my endorsement and support behind Jacques Leandre for City Council.

I believe that Mr. Leandre will bring the same competence, informed, independent, qualified, articulate and savvy perspective and approach to the office that former City Councilman James Sanders brought to the playing field when he was first elected.

And then some.

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