Earlene Hooper is not, by any stretch of the imagination, media-friendly. She does not respond to phone calls from newspapers, rejects invitations to meet face to face and is very rarely seen in public. It is possible she merely does not see the Herald as worthy of her attentions, but Hooper is similarly taciturn with other papers. In an endorsement interview with Newsday, her response, presumably via email, to the question, “What legislation would you support or introduce to increase voter turnout?” was “Yes.” Not exactly convincing. This pattern extends back to the start of her career.
Being gregarious is not a requirement for public office. It is, or at least should be, perfectly valid for a politician to rest on his or her record and let legislative accomplishments speak for themselves. However, if Hooper is content to let voters dig up their own information about her, she must also be satisfied with what they find. A search on Hooper does not paint a pretty picture. Beyond basic bios, the first few mentions of Hooper detail a legal but shady “double dip” pension arrangement, a loopy comparison between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and King James, and several reports that in spite of receiving more than $60,000 over 2010 and 2011 in per diem reimbursements, Hooper was evicted from her $700-per-month apartment. (Hooper says her eviction was erroneous.)
Hooper performs overwhelmingly well in elections. In 2010 she defeated Republican Derek Partee, 20,666 to 4,220; in 2008 she drubbed a duo of Darren Bryant, a Republican, and Henry Conyers, of the Working Families Party, 31,629 to 4,538 and 990, respectively. But is this a function of her efforts, or merely the fact that she’s an established Democrat in a solidly Democratic district? Has Hooper earned these votes, or do they merely trickle her way because the Republican Party has given up on the 18th A.D.?
Elton McCabe is, of course, an unproven commodity. He ran unsuccessfully against Kevan Abrahams in the 1st Legislative District in 2009, holds an engineering degree from Southern Illinois University and works as an engineering inspector for the Town of Hempstead. A Gulf War veteran, McCabe served in Germany with the Army for 10 years. He is energetic and active in his community, and one of his pet issues is illegal housing. McCabe’s focus, if elected, would be to reduce crime and increase civic pride.
McCabe’s record and resume may not set off fireworks in the hearts of voters, but at least they don’t set off burglar alarms. Over 13 terms in office, Earlene Hooper has become not just complacent, but arrogant in her complacency. A favorable political climate may send her back to the Assembly by default, but voters should at the very least hold her feet to the fire by making this race close. They are being underserved.