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The ‘Career Politician’ Myth

If enough people say something dumb often enough, it begins to sound intelligent — especially in politics.

How often during campaign season does a candidate say, “Vote for me because I’m not a career politicians”? The implication is that anyone who has served more than one term in office is corrupt.

Only in politics has inexperience become a virtue. That does not mean new blood is not good or that a neophyte might not be the best candidate in any given campaign, but the prejudice against career politicians does not make sense.

In northeast Queens, many elected officials have served their constituents well for two decades or more. State Sen. Frank Padavan is being challenged by former City Councilman Tony Avella. Padavan entered government in 1968 as a deputy commissioner for the city Department of Buildings and was first elected in 1972.

Avella entered government more than 20 years ago as an aide to former Councilman Peter Vallone Sr. and later as an aide to former Mayors Ed Koch and Dave Dinkins. He was elected to the Council in 2001 and refused to run for a third term on principle.

Although we did not agree with all of their work, we respect both men. Their districts were well-served, and their constituents apparently agree.

The same goes for U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman, who was re-elected 12 times and first entered politics in 1978 as a state senator.

TimesLedger Newspapers welcomes new faces and fresh ideas in politics, but inexperience is not necessarily a virtue.

Should You Vote?

The election is less than a month away. In New York, voters will elect a new governor and state attorney general. Nationwide, voters will elect a new Congress with all seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 36 seats in the U.S. Senate up for a vote.

So it is not surprising that pundits are telling people it is their civic duty to vote. Maybe, but if you do not know who is running or what their platform is, your civic duty may be to stay home.

To help our readers become informed, TimesLedger Newspapers runs the Queens Campaigner, a website that collects political stories from TimesLedger’s various editions.

There is still time to become informed.

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