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Women at the Helm in a Time of Need

Wed, 11/08/2023 - 17:51


Election results after Tuesday’s late-night unofficial counts were posted had women Democratic Party candidates in winning positions on the North and South Forks. We are always pleased to see women in greater roles in government, and these results bode well for where the country may be headed.

Voters in Suffolk legislative District 2, which extends from Westhampton Dunes to Flanders to Montauk, overwhelmingly favored the Democrat Ann Welker to fill a seat being vacated by Bridget Fleming. In county District 1, another woman, Catherine Stark, a Republican with Conservative Party backing, defeated the Democrat Catherine Kent.

Western Suffolk is another story. Ed Romaine, a stalwart Republican from the old school, won as county executive over the Democrat David Calone and the Legislature will remain under G.O.P. control. This will put Ms. Welker and Democratic-run towns on the East End in a weaker position than they have been used to, now that Steve Bellone, the Democratic Suffolk executive, is leaving office.

The strong showing of Democratic candidates might be seen as part of a nationwide movement in which women voters have played a major part. An abortion-rights measure on the Ohio ballot won by a large measure. Top-tier races in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Kentucky all went to the side that put women’s reproductive freedom front and center in their messaging. Echoes of the violent attempt to overturn the 2020 election also still reverberate. In polling this year, a solid majority of voters remained critical of the January 6 Capitol riot. Even among registered Republicans, only about half approved of the mobs’ actions on that day. Here, where abortion was not specifically on the ballot, the results may say something about where voters’ minds are as we hurtle toward the 2024 presidential contest.

Voters also seem to sense a certain urgency, with struggles around the world calling for serious and sober leadership. Republicans who still support former President Trump and what he stands for are ascendant in the House of Representatives, with an inexperienced religious zealot having been elected speaker. These are the same people who want to hand Ukraine over to Vladimir Putin by blocking spending on military assistance. The United States Supreme Court was not only taken over by deeply conservative activist justices, but has tolerated stunning ethical abuses. A description of Justice Clarence Thomas’s scandals alone could fill this page and boggle the mind; a recent one involved a luxury RV financed by a wealthy friend, whom Justice Thomas only partially repaid.

It is exciting that the eastern part of the county will have plenty of women at the helm — in East Hampton, Southampton, and both seats in the Suffolk Legislature: Ms. Welker’s and, in District 1, Ms. Stark’s.

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