Written by Karen Gellender Friday, 23 July 2010 00:00
While “community activist” is a title that anyone running for political office would like to put on their résumé, few people demonstrate the “active” in the title the way Francesca Carlow does. The co-owner of Trio Hardware in the Morton Village shopping center for 25 years, a store known for its philanthropic presence in the community, is a member of the Long Island Regional Planning Council, the Empire Zone Administrative Board, the Long Island Junior Chambers of Commerce, Safenet, POB Athletic Booster Club, Title IX, Student Advisory, POB Bond Issue Task Force, Friends of the POB Library, and PTA Council, has also served as the former president of the Plainview Chamber of Commerce, and currently serves as second vice president of the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce. She is also the recipient of the Lifetime PTA Founders Day Award.
So when Carlow says that she submitted her petition to run as the Democratic candidate for the 6th Senatorial District in order to help the people in her community, and not for her own political ambitions, even the most cynical would have to admit her history of putting her time and money where her mouth is makes it difficult to doubt her sincerity.
“I’ve seen a much larger percentage of our clientele, who I’ve known for years and years, who have lost their jobs due to the situation in Manhattan, the financial crisis, the downsizing of companies,” said Carlow, explaining the changes she’s witnessed personally from her Plainview store. “The economy has severely affected doing business on Long Island.”
Carlow was born and raised in South Hadley, Massachusetts, and came to Long Island at the age of 12, living in Roslyn. After graduating from Emerson College with a degree in communications, she worked producing multimedia sales presentations in Manhattan, both with Roger Wade Productions and later her own company, AV Source, before marrying her husband Bruce and moving to Plainview. Her two children, Danielle and Ben, graduated from POBJFK High School. Carlow has now been an active member of the Plainview-Old Bethpage community for 28 years.
While not initially interested in running for office, her belief that Long Islanders were being taxed unfairly, as well as dissatisfaction with the situation in Albany in general, convinced her this spring to start mounting a campaign for state senate.
“I don’t feel like we are represented up in Albany fairly. I feel that we do not have a voice- a clear, loud voice- that’s being represented up there. A career politician has been in office for 21 years; I feel it’s time we had a new voice- a business voice, not career politicians who are representing themselves more than the people of the district,” Carlow said.
She is critical of her Democratic opponent in the upcoming primary, Dave Mejias, whom she sees as another career politician. “Hearing that the hand-picked candidate for the democratic party would be leading us down the same path that we’ve been on for the last 21 years, I really felt I couldn’t sit back and see a career politician represent the people of this district, and have their concerns take a second seat to his own agenda,” she commented. Despite the fact that Mejias has served in the county legislature, while this is Carlow’s first campaign, she said that her business experience, and long history of involvement in the community, renders her the more qualified candidate.
When contacted in regard to Carlow’s statements, Mejias disagreed, saying that his record speaks for itself: “I have a record of taking on party bosses and political insiders, to defeat pay raises for legislators, to protect taxpayers, and pass tough laws that protect children,” he told the Plainview-Old Bethpage Herald. One of the laws Mejias was referring to, the Natalie Ciappa Law- which requires law enforcement to inform schools whenever an arrest is made for heroin possession and/or sale- is the only law of its kind in the nation.
Speaking of her opponents, while Carlow applauds the recent steps that Senator Hannon has taken against cyberbullying (which she feels is a tremendous problem), she is dissatisfied with his record in general, stating that after 34 years up in Albany and 21 years in the 6th district in particular, he has grown complacent in his position and now votes along the party line. “I don’t feel that he really speaks for the people of his district,” she said.
Carlow noted two things in particular she has already done to bring economic stimulus to the community before seeking office; starting a Keep it Here: Buy Locally campaign, and working during the 2009 US Open at Bethpage State Park to promote local restaurants and attractions to all the new people in town for the USGA event.
In addition to working to keep Long Island money on Long Island, Carlow said that other items on her legislative agenda would include making better use of local universities, working with North-Shore LIJ hospital (the largest employer in the area), and creating affordable housing to keep young people on Long Island.
“No one wants to live in the basement of their parents’ house forever,” she commented, referring to the difficulties faced by young people who would like to stay on Long Island. She referred to the statistics measuring the number of families, and young people in general, moving away from Long Island due to the high cost of living as “staggering.”
Despite the large variety of ways in which she has served the community for almost 30 years, Carlow takes special pride in her recent training with CERT (Community Emergency Response Training), which she completed in March, citing her belief that community officials should be a source of leadership and support in a crisis in every possible way. She also mentioned that the only current elected official in Nassau County who is also a CERT member is Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano.
“We did not have a vision for so many years; now it’s a very coined phrase, ‘visioning, a vision for Long Island.’ But we do need a vision, and we need new voices to speak for the people,” said Carlow. “I’m a family person, and I care deeply about the people in the sixth district; I work with them every single day.”
The primary is scheduled for September.