Americans often complain of entrenched elected leaders, party machines and the overall political powers-that-be joining forces to give a Heisman Trophy-style stiff-arm to the electorate when it comes to who gets into public office — and who stays there.
Political primaries are one tool the public has to take a bit of that power back, because regular citizens — at least in New York, citizens registered with parties — get to choose who runs for office on a given party line.
Locally, party nominations up for grabs on primary day, Tuesday, Sept. 10, include the Democratic pick for Riverhead Town supervisor and Republican and Independence party nods for two open council seats.
While party leaders and incumbent candidates may hate primaries, it’s hard to argue against the positives they bring to the political process.
This year’s primary races have given voters a unique opportunity to get to know candidates they might not otherwise have heard much from — or about — until now.
And the dialogue during the races, including at the Aug. 26 primary debates, has pushed some real issues in Riverhead Town to the forefront. These include zoning and planning matters, and whether the town is headed in the right direction, in terms of development. Other questions concern the role of the Industrial Development Agency and whether it should exist at all. The idea of term limits is also something that seemed to be gaining traction based on some pretty hearty applause at the downtown debates.
As far as endorsements go, politically independent newspapers like the News-Review don’t typically endorse candidates in party primaries. The paper is in no position to say who would be the better Republican or better Democrat. That’s up to the club: registered party members.
But we do hope we’ve provided enough coverage and opportunity for readers to get to know these candidates, so that they can make an informed choice.