GCHS students get political at special mayoral debate

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On Friday, the senior social studies classes and the Glen Cove Youth Bureau collaborated to host a mayoral debate at Glen Cove High School. The Participation in Government classes worked hard to research local issues to develop questions for Mayor Reggie Spinello and Councilman Timothy Tenke, while the AP Government and Politics students ran the debate.

Similar to the official debate, the candidates described their previous successes in their positions and how they are best equipped to lead the city.

Student questions

Some of the student-researched questions included:

In the past, the city of Glen Cove has experienced both Democratic and Republican mayors. They had different views on what would make Glen Cove a better community. Please explain the vision you and your council candidates have to meet the needs of our community.

Spinello said his vision for the city is happening right now. He has been able to provide services, while keeping taxes low. “You’re not tax payers now but you will be, and that’s good for your family, and that gives you piece of mind,” he said.

“I’d like to see Glen Cove be a much more inclusive type of a city,” responded Tenke. “This is not a city just for the really rich or the privileged people in Glen Cove but it’s for everybody. Everybody should be entitled to have access to their government.” He said he’d also like to see the downtown thrive with help from the Downtown BID, the Glen Cove Chamber of Commerce and the real estate agents, more bike paths throughout the city and the opening of Crescent Beach again.

Spinello responded saying he has worked with the Long Island Housing Authority trying to develop more projects for people in need of housing.

If you are elected mayor of Glen Cove, what issue would you make a priority and please explain why.

Tenke said he would like a much more open government. “People in Glen Cove don’t know what’s going on because they’re not told what’s going on,” he said. He also said he would like to see more activities for the youth in the city.

Spinello said the issues in Glen Cove are similar to issues in other areas. He said the Glen Cove Police Department helps people feel safe in their homes. As far as the youth in the community, he mentioned a grant the city received to revitalize all the ball parks. He also mentioned he live streams all city council meetings and encouraged the students to come down to the meetings. “We’re not in the planning and what I’d like to see stage, we’re in the action stage here,” Spinello said.

Tenke rebutted, saying Spinello is selling all of the land in Glen Cove and plugging the budget with sales of the assets.

Glen Cove has been listed as one of Long Island’s downtown areas with the highest potential for redevelopment. What current and future initiatives does your administration have to help Glen Cove reach its untapped potential and to become a destination town like Huntington and Sayville?

Spinello said he has already started this process with the Village Square Project and the Garvies Waterfront Project, all while keeping taxes low. He also mentioned he reduced the debt and got the city credit upgrades.

Tenke mentioned he has been elected six times to his position, which should say something about people’s trust in his judgment. He also mentioned the overestimation of building fees in Spinello’s budget. He would like to see the downtown become a shopping destination hub like it was when he was younger.

In response, Spinello said Tenke did not give an alternative to his criticisms on the budget.

Student responses

“I think Councilman Tenke had a better vision,” said Gurmehar Khurana, 17. He said one of his concerns is the need for more activities for the youth in Glen Cove. “They both talked about creating housing, but I don’t think that’s a problem because we have so much housing already,” Khurana explained. “I think creating, making Glen Cove a better place for the youth is the main issue.”

John Loftus, 17, also felt more drawn to Tenke. “I feel like Tim Tenke is a nice candidate,” said Loftus. “He just seems very upfront and he was telling all these numbers about the deficits and the assets and that resounds to me.”

Superintendent Dr. Maria Rianna said she was pleased with how the debate turned out. “It’s a wonderful opportunity that the city affords us to be able to provide students a real understanding of what they will be encountering in the future, as well as taking part in their community,” she said, “as far as the first level in the involvement of politics and the democratic system.”