My coverage of the 2017 Long Beach Election continues with Joseph Naham, Green Party candidate for Long Beach City Council. Sit down and relax, because Joey (I know him as Joey) had a lot to say, including his thoughts on our community, the environment and bringing an economic resistance to our city by the sea.
Tell us about yourself.
Thank you Anthony and dedicated Sea By The City readers. My name’s Joseph Naham. I’m a husband, community activist and lifelong resident of Long Beach. I have a degree from SUNY Farmingdale in Horticulture where I learned about thousands of native and exotic species of plants and insects. I also have a bachelor’s degree in Sustainable Business Management. I spent half of my life living on the beach side, and the other half living on the bay and I have limitless value for the ecosystems that we are living amongst in Long Beach. I have worked to do what’s right for my community all of my life. I volunteered at Camp Anchor as a young adult to improve the life of children with disabilities. I worked at a local solar company for several years as an auditor and made a number of designs for local solar systems. I recently became OUPV certified and am going through the Coast Guard for the final certificate to be able to bring equipment by boat when the offshore wind turbines get moving. I have actively participated in oyster restoration programs in locations ranging from Reynold’s Channel to Southold. I managed several farmers markets, including in Long Beach from 2010- 2012. I was able to develop a local composting program, and worked to build community gardens in our community. I’ve been active in fighting to protect our Lloyd Aquifer from unethical pumping by New York City, as well as promoting plans to protect it from salt water intrusion. I have fought to make government transparent with respect to $50-100 million lawsuits, and our city’s tricky actions pertaining to the zoning board up to this election season’s Democratic fiasco.
Why are you running for city council?
I am a fourth generation Long Beacher, and I am running for city council as someone who understands that our city is more than just a tourist/resort community. Our community is more than just a city, we live on a very special and important barrier island. In the aftermath of Sandy I witnessed the graciousness of neighbors who pulled together and opened their homes up to help others (myself included) to get back on our feet. As other devastating storms impact other communities far from ours, we pulled ourselves together, (again myself included) worked in St. Mary’s boxing clothing, food, etc. with hundreds of others to truck down to Houston. So this sense of turning your emotion into devotion clearly isn’t in effect only when Long Beach is threatened. Being that our home is a barrier island, currently stressed with a number of topographical, environmental, and economical factors, I desire to achieve two things: Bring about an economic renaissance that will work to pay off the staggering lawsuits without pushing it down onto our children. Secondly, I want to turn this city into a leader of innovation that helps inspire communities who currently are, or will be in the future, at risk of flooding due to sea level rise and climate change. Our actions today are going to be invaluable to not only ourselves, but other communities across this nation and the globe. It reminds me of a quote from Anne Frank “What is done cannot be undone, but one can prevent it happening again.” The worse thing we can do is to continue to not act, and sit by and watch as our resources are drained to the point of chaos. It’s going to happen with an independent City Council, who doesn’t start campaigning for their reelection the day after they’re elected. If elected I will fight for all of you, and work to make this city a better home for all of us. I hope that you join me and the genuine Greens, who are the true independents for this City of Long Beach’s transitional Revolution. .
All candidates like to present glowing visions of the communities they are running in to have some impact. What is your realistic vision for what you would like to see Long Beach become over the next 5 to 10 years?
I would like to see the city of Long Beach with healthy drinking water in 5-10 years. I would like to work with Beach to Bay Civic, South Nassau Community Hospital board members, and other hospitals at bringing a 100 bed inpatient/outpatient hospital to Long Beach. (Briefly this hospital must serve patients with the following issues: cancer, pneumonia, asthma, COPD, diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, heart failure/CHF, stroke/TIA, heart attack, ED, and psych. This will take presentations involving leadership and the stakeholders in this community to present to the SNCH board that a Long Beach hospital would be profitable.
I realistically believe that Long Beach leaders can be forthcoming about all deals with respect to ethics and standards that Long Beach deserves. All matters of Long Beach government must be transparent.
I would work to keep the City of Long Beach not selling out it’s last two swaths of oceanfront land parcels to developers hungry to exploit it with 500+ unsustainable units. I would like to see Long Beach with safe streets for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists. I would really like to see more alternative energy use in homes and in vehicles, but more importantly the transfer of electricity from a centralized grid, to a community based grid. Residents, and businesses who invest in either solar or batteries are superior when it comes to energy expenses and reliability. In cutting away from a centralized grid, we remove the majority of tax and demand on the grid. I would like to work with local and state lawmakers to prevent any roadblocks from allowing green community based energy from becoming a reality within 1-5 years.
As a horticulturist, I can’t tolerate our avenue and boulevard malls. Changes in the malls could be made that would make them not only more beautiful, but also more environmentally friendly. Scientifically, turf suppresses root systems of trees, prevents water drainage, and costs precious resources to maintain. Xeric gardens are natural plantings which require virtually no maintenance, and would attract birds which prey on insects. These gardens could even act as dividing sites of cultivated plants which could be transplanted into our many planters around turn (On the street side, in a new bicycle barrier planter scape, and even hanging planter scapes). My objective point is the cost of resources, not to mention the lack of drainage the turf threatens the (old/new) tree plantings with salt water every flooding episode. I must stress too, that turf stresses the integrity of soil composition, and their are countless other impacts it negatively has on our ecosystem.
Because, it would literally change the landscape, it would become a hot topic in the community about what to plant from all other passionate gardeners, and maybe even some other horticulturalists alike. I would be enthusiastic about entertaining all thoughts to beautify and naturalize our community.
I would also like to add some committees, and publicly invite neighbors to them. Focuses of these committees might range from public/safe transportation to health standards, and quality of life (mostly related to addressing possible mold germination resurgences in all buildings (City, commercial, residential, etc.) It’s my priority that we all live in our home city without fear that we are breathing in something toxic. So hopefully this committee would create a voluntary certificate that the establishment could produce if it clears mold testing standards.
Also, bringing a marine lab into the city, whether it’s partnered with a university/college, or the Town of Hempstead would better help cater to the environmental needs of both our eco-system, and our citizens.
Related to the last question, What would you say are the most important challenges that our city must address that are presently being ignored?
Of the challenges I posed in the previous question, the halt on overdevelopment is going to require the most sacrifice. I feel that it would be a gross failure of duty for any administrator or elected official who has the attitude that it’s plan to pay out the massive lawsuits is through a state bailout sometime down the line. I also feel that as citizens who elected the leaders who ultimately got us into this mess (and I’m one of you) we must agree to come together and genuinely discuss what sacrifices are going to have to be made to ensure we don’t pass these failures down to the generation who take over after us. This is our responsibility, and outside the box resolutions are clearly going to be the ones that gets us through this pivotal time in our city’s history. One of those resolutions may be a collective promise to not seek a variance for a one year period so a clear cut moratorium goes into effect and denies all variances to developers seeking to exploit this city for their own profit. This window would start from when the council passes the plan, and the zoning board approves it, and might be up to a year, or maybe a little longer. It will take a great conscious effort of the people of Long Beach, that we equally sacrifice, by not applying for a variance for a year, we theoretically could nip this in the bud. Should we dismiss this proposal? That is up to the people of long Beach, but I believe it’s important to not only personally consider, but publicly address all challenges, and all possible solutions.
Where we are at would be far bleaker if it weren’t for the active persistence of the Beach to Bay Civic Association. For the past four and a half years, they’ve been outspoken on the hospital while also actively assisting neighbors with water quality awareness, flood insurance seminars, that have been steadfast at holding our leaders accountable regarding a hospital in Long Beach. I have supported their efforts, and will make efforts to continue to reach out publicly to lawmakers, medical universities and stakeholders for an integral solution to finally satisfy this hurting community.
At the same time, it must be said that a number of the problems faced by our City are due to wider and long-standing State, and even national issues and problems. One of these problems is presented by the enormous power of wealthy real estate interests over localities such as Long Beach. The ability they have, under current law, to sue for huge amounts of money to pursue their developments in the face of widespread public opposition to them is disconcerting, as it is undemocratic. This power, until it is properly limited by law, has to be confronted by communities on a daily basis. I will work to empower our City to confront these types of special interests. Greens and others hope that the single payer health bill now being considered by the New York Legislature will be passed. If passed, this bill will save the City of Long Beach approximately $8 million annually in the cost of employee health insurance under the current system. This saved money–a significant part of the municipal budget– could be used by the City to stop overdevelopment and gentrification and create a healthier community at the same time.
If the event presents itself, what are the specific criteria that you will apply in the search for our next City Manager? What academic, experiential, residence, and political factors would you consider vital for the best candidate?
If elected I will be carefully searching for a City Manager who absolutely does not believe that it is acceptable to pass the tax burdens of $50-100 million lawsuits down onto our children. That is one important priority. I will be examining candidates on the merits of academics, experience, and most importantly on ethics, sustainable business management, and that they have resided in Long Beach for an excellent amount of time(It’s not about quantity, it’s quality). If we are faced with appointing a new city manager then this election is more important than any other election in the past seven years. The virtues that I respect are:: justice, courage and moderation, and I would seek these in the next City Manager as well. It goes without saying that I would not look for approval from a political party boss before I decide who my selection for the next City Manager would be. I don’t want there to be any allowance of a council person to either only consider, or negotiate a prospective city manager from a political agenda. And if there is a council person considering a city manager through such questionable behavior then I want all of the residents to know about it. Residents must know how this important office (as well as the Zoning Board of Appeals) works and how the city manager is actually picked if we are to avoid possible shady dealings and have transparency. I don’t want a satisfactory City Manager, I want an excellent City Manager.
If elected, would you serve your full term?
I would absolutely serve a full term. I will be so proud to represent the people and businesses of Long Beach with great distinction, purpose and patience.
Any additional comments you might like to add.
Thank you for providing this platform Anthony.
I feel that people like you, and LBMTY, Project 11561 all provide a greater service to everyone in Long Beach. It’s hard to take the local Long Beach Herald, (A publication I have contributed to since I was a child) seriously, when they don’t provide fair coverage of my campaign. When I ask the Herald why not, there answer is always a resounding “We only save space in our paper for the two parties, because it saves on our printing costs.” My family, friends, and yours truly hold you all as assets with higher principles of journalism than the Herald, and like journalists. Apparently they haven’t yet learned that there’s no added cost to add a paragraph onto a digital article.
There will be a candidates forum at Temple Israel on October 16th at 7:00 hosted by the Joint Civic Associations of long Beach, and another tentatively by the League of Women’s Voters on Oct. 30 at 7:00 at the Long Beach Library. In the meantime you can access my website JosephNaham.com, and join in the political revolution. Thank you!