Editor's Note: The following is an original letter sent in by Patch reader Christine Zichittella-Heeren:
I attended the democratic primary debate on Thursday, Aug. 30 between Jennifer Maertz & Bridget Fleming, moderated by The League of Women Voters. There were about 35 people who attended this event at the Rocky Point VFW hall. It was a great event overall, but I walked away with mixed emotions.
First of all, I was so proud to see not one, but two women in the race. They are both well-educated, articulate and caring. I feel that either one of them would represent me well in Albany. Yes, they agreed on many of the main issues, but I think that's not a huge surprise with two people from the same political party.
I was happy to see the debate, for the most part, was respectful and productive. The candidates did disagree and argue. But, I never felt like they crossed the line or showed such horrible behavior that they would lose my vote. It's also hard to defend yourself when you have 1 or 2 minutes to respond to an accusation. But overall, the format lead to civil discussion (in my opinion) which is what I expected in a debate like this.
As I walked back to my car at the end of the night, I felt a sadness- for two reasons. First, because there were very few young people who attended. I wish school had already started and all the local Social Studies teachers required their students to attend (or at least get extra credit). Debates like this are a good lesson in civics.
I brought my 13 year old son with me. He really enjoyed being there. I think as parents, if we want our children to be productive members of society and have the ability to fight for their rights- our children must learn politics. Not just complain about politicians, but be part of the process and show up at events like this. It was two hours of my day and a 10 mile drive to the VFW hall. Not a huge sacrifice.
It was a bit disappointing to not see the room filled with people from different age groups. But kudos to those who did show up and participate. There was a young lady from Southampton, I believe, who asked a question about affordable housing. I could tell she was holding back the emotion when speaking about having her home recently condemned.
But I think the worst part of the night for me was walking away not knowing who to vote for in the primary on September 13th. In my heart either of these women would be better for me and my family then the State Senator currently in office. I just pray that voters in the 1st district here on Long Island educate themselves on the issues & participate in the elections!
I asked my 13 year old who he would vote for and he answered "They both did great. I don't know who I would vote for in the primaries." My response was "I know how you feel buddy."
Middle Island, New York