Green Party Hopeful Vies for Suffolk Legislature

[From Long Island Press]


Ian Wilder, secretary of the Suffolk County Green Party (left),
Cesar Malaga, Green Party candidate for Suffolk

By Timothy Bolge

County Legislature Cesar Malaga is a 73-year-old retired engineer from West Babylon and candidate for Suffolk County Legislature vying to become the first Green Party nominee to win a seat on Long Island, where only a handful of other third party hopefuls have done the same in the past.

Malaga, a Peruvian immigrant, president of the Hispanic American Association and a former member of the Long Island Rail Road commuter's council, is unabashedly progressive. Bolded on his online list of platform issues is donating half of his compensation to local food pantries and he supports the Occupy Wall Street movement. But he also favors more mainstream ideals like open space preservation, affordable housing and county workforce consolidation.

If elected, Malaga would join a small but growing club of minor-party Suffolk politicians who hold sway in stark contrast to Nassau County, where the bitter divide between Democrats and the Republican majority arguably mirrors the dysfunctional climate in Congress.

The 12-6 Democratic majority in Suffolk includes allies Legis. Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk), the former Republican East Hampton town supervisor, and Kate Brown (WF-Shirley), an Irish immigrant and former school bus driver. The pair is losing from their ranks Legis. Jack Eddington (I-Medford), the outgoing public safety committee chair, who is not seeking re-election.

But they are not alone east of the county line. Suffolk County Sheriff DeMarco is a registered Conservative Party member, along with 11 judges and seven town officials - although that's not surprising since Suffolk touts the most registered Conservatives in the state, with more than 20,000.

Same goes for the Independence Party elected officials. The head of the national, state and Suffolk party chapters is all the same: Frank McKay of North Babylon.

The East End also is home to the Independence Party%u2019s only state lawmaker from Suffolk, Assemb. Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor). Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, who is up for re-election, is also a registered Independence Party member.

Magala is not the only county legislature candidate who is running on a minor-party line alone. Joe Spinola, a former judge and registered Conservative, is running on the Working Families Party line after he lost the Democratic and Conservative party nominations in the primaries in the race against longtime incumbent Legis. Norma Gonzalves (R-East Meadow).

Both have an uphill battle. Magala is facing Legis. Wayne Horsley (D-Babylon), who has the Conservative and Independence party lines, and Republican challenger Edward Blankenhorn Jr. of Lindenhurst in the 14th legislative district.

The one thing working in Magala%u2019s favor is the fact that he did not have to petition to get on the ballot this year. Twice in past years he tried to run for office but lost petition challenges in court. But last year, when Howard Hawkins, the gubernatorial Green Party candidate, earned more than 50,000 votes, the party regained ballot status.

"When you don't have ballot status it's very easy to pick off a candidate," said Ian Wilder, secretary of the Suffolk County Green Party. Malaga is now one of more than a dozen Green candidates statewide outside LI.

"He's a rarity," Wilder said, touting his candidate's independence from the corrupting influence of corporate campaign donations and regular attendance at county legislative meetings. "Most candidates are not that familiar with the workings of the office they%u2019re running for."