By: Adam Mayer
What makes an effective elected official? Chiefly, I believe,is the ability to intimately understand the needs of his/her constituents and to effectively meet those needs through competent, ethical, vigorous, and robust representation. The need to understand the needs of our specific needs, as Orthodox Jews, is particularly poignant and it is with that in mind that it remains incumbent upon all voting members of our community to pay close attention to who we vote for and why.
As is known by now, Harvey Weisenberg, who is the representative for the 20th New York Assembly District (covering Inwood, Lawrence, Cedarhurst, Woodmere, North Woodmere, Hewlett, East Rockaway, Oceanside, Island Park, Atlantic Beach, and Long Beach) will not be seeking re-election at the end of his term this coming December 2014. After much political jockeying on the democratic side, Long Beach resident Todd Kaminsky, has emerged as the sole candidate on the democratic line. Running on the Republican line is Avi Fertig, a woodmere resident. The election will be this November.
Avi Fertig is an Orthodox Jew, a member of our community, a yeshiva tuition paying parent, and a long standing advocate for so many causes of importance to our community. In his current role as Special Assistant to the Board of the Town of Hempstead, Avi has proven himself as a highly capable advocate for our community. As part of his position, he has grown deep, bi-partisan roots with many layers of Government local through Federal and has an impressive attache full of accomplishments on our behalf. During the immediate days and months after Hurricane Sandy I can personally attest to the tireless efforts he put forth for all of our benefit and I am certain he did so because he genuinely cared – he did not need to do all that he did (and to which a lot of it was done without fanfare much to his credit). He went so above and beyond the scope of what was needed as part of his job and I will always remember that in our time of need he was a friend to be relied upon (which cannot be said for all electeds). I also look back on different and varying needs of the community, some small and some major, where Avi helped navigate through the bureaucracy of Government to get work done. Avi has also demonstrated fine political acumen in ably assisting all communities and all faiths in a fair and transparent manner which is why he was and is the singular Republican candidate, heartily endorsed by the Republican Party who, of course, represents all communities.
There are so many issues of critical importance to our community such as Yeshiva tuition relief, reimbursement for hundreds of millions of dollars that remain a debt unpaid by the state to Yeshiva’s, funding for special education and the handicapped community, rights for Orthodox Jews as they pertain to Shabbos and so many other facets, skyrocketing tax and cost of living costs in New York State, repair to Route 878 which remains wholly disregarded and to which the state has repeatedly failed to act, ethical and moral issues which go so directly against the grain of our most deeply held convictions; these are issues that matter and that effect our life on a daily basis. These are matters that one from outside our community may not hold as a priority and matters that for certain Avi Fertig will fight for on our behalf.
This past week there was an event to meet and greet with Todd Kaminsky. And while I am certain Todd is an upstanding family man with altruistic intentions, I am not convinced he is the right candidate for the Five Towns Jewish Community. Our community needs an elected official with particular acuity to the needs of our community and what better than electing a frum candidate with a strong track record of indeed being an effective, articulate advocate; a track record to which Todd Kaminsky frankly cannot claim.
Harvey Weisenberg was a strong representative for the 20th District who I have met on multiple occasions and he was always a Gentleman and a statesman and I will look back at him fondly. With that said though, he was not always the strongest advocate for the needs of Orthodox Jews and this is our opportunity to flex our political muscle and join together in a cohesive manner, with one voice, to vote for a candidate who will undoubtedly be a forceful and effective advocate for all of US. Lets not allow others to split our vote and dilute our voice for reasons I cannot and do not understand. We have an opportunity, a rare opportunity, to take a seat that has long not been ours and to make it ours. To make a solid block of two contiguous Assembly Districts one being the 23rd currently represented by Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder and the second being the 20th by hopefully Avi Fertig – both of whom are Frum Jews – is a powerful example of good government in action and can reap untold fruits if brought to bear. By not being party to partisanship and staying focused on what remains best for our community we have an amazing chance to take back a seat and make it work for us. It is very early in the campaign but a candidate not from our community somehow being best to represent our community is a preposterous notion. It is important that we keep our eye on the ball and pay attention to the best needs of our community on so many critical issues. We have so much to lose if we dont.
Adam Mayer is a resident of Inwood, NY. This opinion article is solely my own and has not been endorsed or encouraged by the Fertig campaign.