Every so often, a political newcomer lights up the scene with their potential. Such is the case with Rebecca L. Sanin.
Sanin, 45, brings vast experience to the race as president and chief executive of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island. She also served five years as an assistant deputy county executive in Steve Bellone's administration. The Huntington Station Democrat understands policy, planning, and the importance of community engagement, and has expertise in a wide array of social services issues. Her skill set is as deep as her list of contacts and — more importantly for the county — she is a big thinker with lots of fresh ideas.
Sanin says the lack of affordable housing in Suffolk contributes to a range of health problems, so she see this as a public health issue and supports the conversion of vacant malls, strip malls and other empty commercial spaces. She also says that affordable housing projects that faced tremendous community opposition should be studied years after completion to see whether those concerns panned out.
Through her work with the Health and Welfare Council, Sanin saw the toll COVID-19 took in areas like education, public safety, opioid addiction, and on children in particular. She argues for public education campaigns and partnering with nonprofits to better connect those still struggling with needed services. Environmentally, she wants to reduce herbicide and pesticide use, expand the use of natural landscapes, devise a regional solution to Long Island garbage problem, and work with Republicans to get on the ballot a voter referendum to establish a funding stream for sewers and advanced septic systems.
Sanin also wants to analyze county government to see whether it can be restructured around its three basic functions — public safety, public heath and social services — and consolidate and/or share services with other municipalities where possible.
Her opponent is first-term incumbent Manuel Esteban Sr., a 46-year-old Republican from East Northport. Esteban is personable but lacks a record of accomplishment in his two years. He calls himself "the most important member of the Suffolk County Legislature," saying he is a swing vote — a mathematical improbability when Republicans hold an 11-7 edge. He also says he is an "emergency brake" on extreme legislation, but can't cite a single example of a bad bill he derailed. Esteban gets credit for being out in the community and talking to constituents, but he is miscast in the legislature.
Sanin might not have held elected office before but she is brimming with vigor, vision and leadership potential that would serve the county well.
Newsday endorses Sanin.