Vote Bennett for change

Published 8:52 pm Saturday, September 8, 2012

To the editor:

It is time for change in the local government of Suffolk. In order for the climate in the city to improve, the change must begin at the very top of the ladder, in the office of mayor.

The mayor is the leader of the city government, the one who sets the tone that in turn influences the attitude and outlook of others on City Council. Generally, if the mayor embraces a policy of transparency, inclusiveness and respect for all citizens, those on council tend to follow that trend.

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However, if the mayor exhibits a preference for closeted proceedings, retaliatory practices against those who dare offer legitimate criticisms and a tendency to exhibit an attitude of contempt, unconcern and disrespect for the general public, then that attitude often permeates the entire council.

Even in cases where some members may feel these practices are not ethically or morally acceptable, there often exists a tendency to just “go along to get along.”

It takes a person of strong character to be able to stand under the withering pressure of a group that is constantly referred to as the “team” and to demonstrate, by personal example, that he was not voted into office by his constituents to be a “team player,” but as an independent thinker, a voice for the people who put him there to represent their best interests.

Leroy Bennett has exhibited the strength of character that enables him to stand for what he believes, even if it means standing alone. I have personally observed his actions and demeanor during many council meetings, and I have never failed to be impressed with his display of respect and concern for those who do not have an opportunity to speak on their own behalf.

One such issue has been the levying of the enormous recycling tax of $17.50 per month on the shoulders of city residents. Councilman Bennett, realizing that many of the constituents in his borough and, indeed, the city, would find it a financial burden to come up with the additional “blue trashcan tax” each month, stood bravely and voted against that fee.

His fears of the financial burden this onerous tax would inflict on many citizens proved to be founded. Many seniors on fixed incomes, as well as young families struggling to make ends meet, have beseeched him to diligently seek some measure of relief in this area.

He has committed to revisit this issue in order to seek a means of relief for many in Suffolk who are experiencing hardships due to this tax, if he is elected as mayor.

These are a few of the reasons I will vote for Leroy Bennett for mayor on Nov. 6.

Mamie Martin-Ross