Manuel Esteban, a Republican and Conservative, is challenging Democrat Susan Berland, the incumbent and majority leader, in the 16th District in the Suffolk County Legislature.
Born to an immigrant mother from Colombia, he had very few opportunities growing up in Astoria, but it was his hard work that enabled him to achieve success. Today he is a lawyer in New York, with numerous professional accomplishments to his credit, both in Suffolk County and abroad. Being fluent in both English and Spanish has allowed him to serve in both cultures with great ease.
Esteban, who lives in East Northport with his wife and seven children, has a full resume and a record of deep community service. Besides helping the local community he has helped raise funds for Fundacion Renacer, an orphanage in Colombia, and served as a lay Catholic volunteer missioner in Peru.
Esteban has also been active in community matters, including serving as chairman of the Town of Huntington Hispanic Advisory Task Force and having been an advisory board member of the Lower Eastside Tenement Museum.
Here's where he stands on some issues important to the area:
What is the solution to the many empty lots and offices around Huntington as a result of the Covid pandemic and other business stresses? Esteban believes that one way to revive the businesses is to get the community involved and start using services and supplies from the existing smaller businesses to prevent further devastation. In addition, he feels that businesses from other areas where rents are sky-high may be offered assistance to relocate.
Another issue is the condition of many roads in need of repairs. If elected, he would work closely with the county and engineers to determine if there is a way to divert traffic to limit more damage and at the same time undertake repairs. Of course, he notes, that boils down to funding.
As a lawyer, he is aware of the rise in crime, petty thefts, gang violence and vandalism but also white-collar crime and corruption in the county. Esteban feels that community education, advocacy for citizens to become more involved and watchful, and improved policing that involves a more culturally diverse police force that represents the community are good steps forward. He believes that 'legislation' is not always the best solution.
Another major topic of discontent in Suffolk county is the lack of affordable housing. Esteban feels that the housing problem has been a chronic issue and will take time to resolve. High rents and lack of land to build more homes are two key reasons which have made it difficult to solve the crisis. However, he reiterates, "We need smaller affordable units like studios and one and two-bedroom apartments for students, seniors, and folks who live alone or have small families. These units would be affordable and allow people to save money."
Asked what he believes would happen in the legislature if Republicans become the majority, Esteban replied, ‘I get along well with my Democratic colleagues and admire the programs they have invested in including diversity training, tax relief, affordable housing, etc, and I do not intend to change what is working.’ However, he added, ‘there will be some issues we may not agree on, but we must work in the best interest of the families and individual taxpayers.