I think we can all agree that year’s election is important. The presidential candidates truly present a stark difference in their worldview, and the looming shadow of COVID-19 may also impact on turnout and outcome.
By now, most of us have probably made up our minds as to who will get our vote. Some vote along party lines and will pull the lever for all Republican or Democratic candidates without even knowing who many of the candidates are and what they stand for. Some carefully scrutinize the candidates and split their vote based on who will deliver on local and regional issues.
My parents used to divide decision-making roles simply. My mother would make the smaller decisions, such as whether we should buy a new washing machine, and even where my brother and I should go to school; while my father decided the large-scale ones — about world peace, who should be president, if Israel should return territory to the Arabs.
Who will become the next president will affect us in many ways. But as pundits remind us, “all politics are local.” Those of you who vote Democrat and pull every lever straight down on party lines need not read further. But those of you who vote Republican the same way, continue to read.
I have been voting Republican for some years. Despite my preference, I don’t pull the lever straight down for the entire slate of candidates. I have found that some of the Democrats on the ballot are more in tune with local issues and are closer to my thinking and thus are worth considering. They listen to our community and share our concerns. You know what I mean.
Gregory Marks is running for New York State Assembly on the Democratic ticket against Incumbent Melissa L. Miller. I believe he will better represent our interests than the incumbent. I got to know Gregory recently and have been impressed with his sincerity and in-depth knowledge of issues affecting the Five Towns.
Security is probably the No. 1 issue for all of us who attend the area shuls and send our children to local yeshivas. A number of shuls have already received federal grants to enhance their security (thank you, Kathleen Rice, a fellow Democrat). But did you know that state money is also available for such crucial issues?
Gregory told me about the Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes Program, allocated by the NY State Assembly. It funds over $45 million annually to pay to upgrade security, such as special doors, armed guards, and many additional measures that help protect houses of worship susceptible for hate crimes. Gregory Marks wants to be in the assembly so we can access these much needed funds. He explained to me that one needs to be in the majority party in order to obtain the bulk of this funding. The state assembly is controlled by the Democrats and has been for many years. You go where the action is.
Gregory has met with many of our rabbinic leaders. He has affirmed his support for the Agudath Israel in its push to expand the Nonpublic School Safety Equipment Grant from 15 to 30 million dollars annually. This grant pays for walkie-talkies, intercom systems to screen outside visitors, external and internal cameras, central lockdown buttons, and an array of other costly equipment to insure our safety and the safety of our children.
Always a team player, Gregory has pledged to work with assembly members such as Daniel Rosenthal, Stacey Pfeffer-Amato, and Simcha Eichenstein to secure funding for our community. Presently, our institutions pass the costs for such vital safety equipment on to us. If state funding is secured, they will no longer need to do that.
Speaking with Gregory, a fourth-generation Five Towner, one feels his passion and commitment for the community he knows so well. His great-grandfather Benjamin settled in Cedarhurst shortly after arriving in America in 1921. Benjamin became an avid supporter of the Jewish people by helping to secure funds for the nascent Jewish community in Palestine and then the State of Israel. Continuing his commitment to his people, Benjamin became active with the Zionist Organization of America, rising to national vice-president. His children and grandchildren followed in his footsteps in community involvement and supporting Jewish issues. This is part of Gregory’s family legacy.
With a master’s degree from Oxford University, Gregory is well-equipped to follow the words of JFK, “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.”
For increased security in our schools, shuls, and day camps, vote Gregory Marks and let him secure the state funding to which we are entitled.
As for me, I will support and vote for Gregory Marks for Assembly on the Democrat ticket while I vote for Donald Trump.
I urge all of you to do the same.
Dr. Alex Sternberg authored the book “Recipes from Auschwitz–The Survival Story of Two Hungarian Jews with Historical Insight.” He is a lifelong student of Jewish history, focusing on the development of Zionism and the Holocaust. He teaches graduate studies and is active in several pro-Israel organizations.