BRENTWOOD, NY – Candidates for the top elective office in Suffolk County will face off in a forum tonight that aims to shine a spotlight on how the county is serving an increasingly diverse population.
The incumbent county executive, Democrat Steve Bellone, will answer questions along with his Republican challenger, James O’Connor. Pat Young with the Central American Refugee Center says with less than a month to go before the election, the forum will put the focus on how well the county is reaching out to working-class communities and people of color.
“There’s going to be a lot of questioning of the county on its language access policy,” he says.
“We also want to see what’s going on with the Suffolk County Police Department, although the department has made some important changes over the past few years. There is still a lot to be done.”
According to Young, the debate comes at a critical time. Not only is it close to the election, but he says some of the anti-immigrant rhetoric being expressed by presidential contenders is finding its way into policy proposals in the county.
Young says the forum is sponsored by advocacy groups that deal with diversity issues “on a daily basis.” He expects the candidates will get plenty of questions about how well Suffolk County is doing in meeting the needs of a population that is growing in its diversity.
“The county is behind other large municipal governments in New York, like New York City, in specifically tailoring services to newcomer communities,” he says. “The types of services that help them fit into the community and help lessen tensions, so that’s something I think the candidates will be asked on as well.”
Photo: Voters will be seeking answers tonight at a candidates forum in Brentwood. Candidates for Suffolk County Executive will answer questions about language access, policing and other issues vital to communities of color. Credit: B1Capo/Flickr.
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