Guest Spot: Supervisor candidate Phil Cardinale on what leadership means

10/26/2011 12:59 PM |

The Bible tells us leadership is about “acting justly and walking humbly.”  It’s about honesty and integrity. It’s about accuracy and care. It’s about character, intellect, diligence and experience. It’s about competence and trust and service. It’s about devoting yourself fully to the task before you.

Leadership is not about pride and arrogance.

Woody Allen has said, “Life is 90 percent showing up.” So is leadership. Showing up is one of the challenges to which our current supervisor has not responded well.

Leadership is about being open and honest with the public — another challenge to which our current supervisor has not responded well.

Recall that this supervisor signed a no-bid contract with a relative of his campaign treasurer, often left government Channel 22 silent and black, ignored Freedom of Information Law requests, refused to schedule work sessions to discuss the town budget and waited until after his election to announce he’d continue to practice law while serving as supervisor.

Our current supervisor speaks frequently of “illusions of progress” during my time as supervisor.

What is illusory about adding $11 million to the town’s reserves from non-refundable deposits at EPCAL, successful litigation against LIPA, and careful fiscal management?

What is illusory about the fact that on my watch, Riverhead’s credit rating was twice raised to its highest level ever, and now our Town can borrow at lower interest rates with less expense to the taxpayers?

What is illusory about producing six Town budgets with tax increases averaging less than the rate of inflation?

What is illusory about giving back $20,000 of my salary to the town?

What is illusory about a 10 percent increase in police officers, creation of a town youth bureau, passage of the town’s first ethics code, preservation of over 1,100 acres of farmland and open space, passage of Master Plan zoning, passage of laws encouraging use of renewable energy and energy conservation, and adoption of a rental law, an accessory apartment law and a safe housing initiative.

My opponent speaks of “true leadership.”  What is more true than a leader who respects his fellow board members regardless of party affiliation, asks each to vote his or her conscience on a matter critical to the town and is rewarded by a unanimous vote across party lines, putting Riverhead first?  This happened often during my time as supervisor.

During my opponent’s time as supervisor, town residents have been treated to the spectacle of Town Board members accusing their same-party supervisor of immaturity (Dunleavy), paranoia (Wooten) and threatening behavior (Giglio, Gabrielsen and Dunleavy).

What happened to civil discourse between Town Board members?

Former Republican Town Board members Barbara Blass and Rose Sanders both recently endorsed me in this year’s race for supervisor. Leadership is about earning the respect of others by treating others with respect.

Leadership is about being a servant to the public, not their master.

Leadership is about awareness that rule of law and equality under the law are fundamental to democracy.

These are other challenges to which our current supervisor has not responded well.

Leadership is also about good new ideas.  How many good new ideas have you heard from Supervisor Walter recently?

Here are some from me:

•    A professional town manager
•    Designation as a first-class town
•    Sales tax sharing with the county
•    Annual review of discretionary tax exemptions
•    Competitive bidding for professional services
•    A regional association of Long Island supervisors
•    A smart growth comprehensive downtown re-development plan

How about this idea, which isn’t new but is certainly new to this administration?

•    Respect for fellow Town Board members and the public.

We must learn to respect people and attack problems; polarization doesn’t work. Cooperation does work by inspiring mutual respect and problem solving.  To solve our problems we must stop screaming at each other and begin talking to each other in a spirit of humility and hope.

Mr. Cardinale is a former Riverhead supervisor who is running as a Democrat for his previous post, now held by Republican Sean Walter. Mr. Cardinale is a Jamesport attorney. This piece will also run in the Oct. 27 edition of the Riverhead News-Review newspaper.

Mr. Walter has also penned a Guest Spot that will appear in this space at 1 p.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, Oct. 26.

Mr. Walter’s piece will also appear in the Oct. 27 News-Review newspaper.