By Howard Kopel
Writing a political endorsement tends to be formulaic. It is typically written by political associates with a superficial knowledge of the person they are endorsing. We are told that the candidate “hates taxes,” “loves to serve constituents,” is “involved in numerous community activities,” etc. You’ve seen it many times before, and it is not really all that enlightening. All of those things are certainly true of Avi Fertig, but that is not what I want to tell all of my fellow residents and readers of the Five Towns Jewish Times. This endorsement is going to be different. It really is personal.
I have a unique perspective on Avi. You see, I don’t just know him through our mutual participation on local politics. Living around the corner from each other in Brooklyn in the late 70s and early 80s, our families were friends. I had the pleasure of watching him grow from a studious elementary school student and mature into the fine young man that we have the opportunity to send to represent all of us in Albany—an environment not well-suited, in recent years, to enthusiastic proponents of suburban values and needs.
Avi had the unique advantage of being raised in a home where both parents were teachers, inculcating their children with the values of a robust education without neglecting the critical character components of derech eretz and Torah. This upbringing “took” in his case. Avi is a fine and erudite writer, who had a career in public relations and advertising, in which there is certainly the opportunity to make more money for his family. However, Avi has a passion for public policy and a burning desire to improve the world in which he lives and make things better for his neighbors. And so, with the encouragement and sacrifice of his devoted wife, Elana, who is on the faculty at Yeshiva of South Shore, Avi embarked on an uncertain political career, taking a pay cut, working with me and helping others as an aide in the Nassau County Legislature. He quickly distinguished himself with his quick and ready understanding of complex issues and suggestions for practical and effective solutions.
Today, Avi is an important aide to Senior Hempstead Town Councilman Anthony Santino, where he has further refined the ways of constituent service, learning at the foot of the councilman, who is an acknowledged master in the art of getting things done. Residents of the Five Towns and beyond know that when they have a problem, especially one involving a branch of government, even if it is not the one in which he works, they go to Avi. He actively cultivates connections and is therefore highly effective. While dealing effectively with citizens of all stripes, Avi does come from, and maintain, an orthodox background and, therefore, has a deep understanding of some of the unique issues faced by this community.
Avi has an invaluable and hard-earned perspective on the problems facing us here in the Five Towns and beyond, based on his experience. It would be foolhardy for us to miss the opportunity to put him to work for us, promoting our needs in Albany.
It is critical that we have a high turnout in this election. If, for whatever reason, you don’t get out and actually vote, the next time that you have an issue with government that is not resolved favorably, ask yourself whose fault that is. Make a difference, and let’s send a strong message to a state government that has, for too long, shortchanged the citizens of this area.
I will vote enthusiastically for Avi Fertig for our next New York State Assemblyman, and I urge all readers to do the same.
Howard Kopel is Legislator of Nassau County’s Seventh District.