Grassroots Effort to Register Island Residents

Friday, April 18, Lynne Strong-Shinozaki Wants You... Register To Vote!

Updated 4 days ago David Stone
At the CBN/RI Senior Center Anniversary Celebration, Lynne Strong-Shinozaki posed with CBN Executive Director William Dionne and City Council Member Ben Kallos.
At the CBN/RI Senior Center Anniversary Celebration, Lynne Strong-Shinozaki posed with CBN Executive Director William Dionne and City Council Member Ben Kallos.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

For Lynne Strong-Shinozaki, the overarching goals for this initiative are clear: "If we want our children and our children's children to have opportunities, we need to act now," she urges. "We need people to remember their vote is a voice, and it matters."

Strong-Shinozaki is a familiar figure to many Roosevelt Islanders. She currently serves as Vice President on the Residents Association Common Council, but some of us know her better for her ubiquitous volunteer work for charitable causes.

When contributors send us photos of our neighbors pitching in to feed the needy or to serve at a party arranged for seniors, she's usually visible somewhere, too busy to look up or to mug for the camera. She doesn't put in the time just to be observed doing good.

Our recent, robust Cherry Blossom Festivals benefited from her skills as an organizer and her apparent inability to exhaust herself.

Which leads to her latest effort.

Get Out the Vote

Strong-Shinozaki took me aside while we were both enjoying the Carter Burden Network's celebration at the end of its first year in managing the Senior Center.

"Can you do something on what we're doing to get people registered to vote?"

Because key dates are imminent - the first sign up sessions are next week - we worked to assemble enough information to explain why this effort matters.

"We have smart talented people on Roosevelt Island who have not taken the time to register. We need all of them now," she wrote in a follow up email.

"What I have learned is that areas that have the highest percentage of voters get the ear of our politicians."

A deeper background motivation showed up when I asked what got her started on this campaign.

"I'm really concerned about what is happening in Washington right now. I hope to get people more involved."

That's far from a rare sentiment in New York, these days, but Strong-Shinozaki acts on her strongest feelings.

Legendary Speaker of the House of Representatives Tip O'Neil gets credit for the insightful truism, "all politics is local." It's never been more true than it is today for Strong-Shinozaki.

As much as the Washington imbroglio has frustrated us, when you drill down, you find inspiration closer to the hearts and feet of residents.

"I think we Ninety-Nine Percenters are ready for a government for the people again. The impact of cuts will effect so many in the very near future. It breaks my heart just to think about the injustice," Strong-Shinozaki lamented.

But she quickly shifted gears to get to her core concern: "Very shortly none of us will be able to afford to live in this wonderful community that we participated in making great."

Many Roosevelt Islanders have been set back on their heels by the sustained wave of change generated as residential buildings transitioned out of the Mitchell-Lama Program that built ours as an economically mixed community.

Only Westview remains under the Mitchell-Lama umbrella, but that is likely to change soon as an exit vote has already been overwhelmingly approved.

Strong-Shinozaki insists the answer is to turn voting into a power tool by getting more people involved.

"Hopefully, if get our voting power up, we will be able to effectively get housing protections that we need. Roosevelt Island was meant to be a mixed community. We are very close to losing that forever," she warns.

The protections she hopes to win still need refinement, but it all starts with forcing politicians to take notice through the exercise of voting.

What's next...?

Friday, April 18, Lynne Strong-Shinozaki Wants You... Register To Vote!

As Strong-Shinozaki said at the start of this article, "If we want our children and our children's children to have opportunities, we need to act now."

Step One: Register to vote.

Timing is ripe, now.

This fall, we vote to elect City Council Members, the Mayor and other City officeholders.

It may be a cliche, but that doesn't make it any less true: when we don't vote, we cede the results to those who care enough to get up and get to the polling places. And that's to a large extent how we end up with a persistent political morass that fails to serve the people being governed.

They can't hear us when we don't speak up.

You can't blame the results of the game if you don't play.

If Lynne Strong-Shinozaki can find whatever time it takes to encourage the unregistered - many of them new neighbors who've become New York eligible for the first time - to take the first step necessary to making Roosevelt Island politically stronger, can you find a few minutes to sign up with her troop of volunteers?

Where and when?

Next Friday, August 18th, a table will again be set up from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. at the Senior Center, 546 Main Street, easy on and off from the Red Bus route.

One last word from Strong-Shinozaki: "We hope to see you there!"

For Cat Lovers