Commack residents might not be aware that one of their own will have their name on the ballot for New York's U.S. Senate seat this November.
Commack native John Mangelli will be running as an Independent and the Common Sense Party against incumbent Sen. Kirsten Gillbrand in this November's elections. Mangelli accomplished his goal of getting on the ballot - no easy feat - but has higher aspirations.
"When I started this, the obstacles were enormous. I was told from the beginning there was no way I was going to make a difference, but I enjoy a challenge," Mangelli said.
A Commack North graduate, Mangelli said he was raised in town to a large Italian, blue-collar family. He remembers being concerned about the environment from a young age, particularly the waters of the Long Island Sound.
"When we went water skiing, there would always be stuff in the water. There would be oil slicks and stuff in the water, you never knew exactly what it was," Mangelli said. "I didn't understand why they didn't clean it up."
He took up and interest in politics, and studied foreign policy while earning his law degree at Thomas Cooley Law School.
"My father always said, 'Realistically John, the only way to make any difference in the world is to change some of the laws and regulations, or to implement them," Mangelli said.
Years later, and now a practicing lawyer, the Commack native found himself inspired to run for his first political office by both the disconnect between elected officials and the public and Occupy Wall Street movement.
"I wanted to get move involved. My way of doing it with my position is not to hold up a sign and protest, but to run for office. To have a voice and make difference that way," Mangelli said.
To start out, the newcomer in the political field said his goal for November 2012 was simply to get his name on the ballot. Mangelli first thought he would need to collect 3,500 signatures, and did successful. Then he found out, the requirements to register as a third-party candidate was actually 15,000 signatures collected throughout New York State - paperwork Republicans and Democrats aren't required to submit.
"I spent several weeks developing a plan, to find out you only had six weeks to do it in," Mangelli said. "I thought, "Now it's only six weeks, oh my God, how do I do it?"
Yet, the Commack native successfully enacted his plan as his name will appear next to incumbent Democrat Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Republican challenger Wendy Long this November. There are several other third-party candidates also running for the seat.
If elected, Mangelli said one of his first personal policies would be to take on the role of a senator as being an educator the public, and offering New Yorker the chance to directly vote on key public issues, such as Social Security or Medicare measures, how they would like him to vote in Washington D.C.
"I've felt that the politicians have lost touch with their constituents and are not listening to their constituents. They are ruling and making decisions based on special interests and campaign contributions... as opposed to letting people vote on the issues," Mangelli said.
The Commack native also wants to heavily pursue prosecution of fraud, to prevent taxpayers money from taken or wrongfully spent. Mangelli said he believes the prosecution of fraud would both create jobs with the investigation, lower corruption in the system, and help lower taxes.
"I've experienced the hardship many New Yorkers face. Taxes are just absurd, and what do taxes do," he said.
Mangelli also runs to his Long Island roots, and his first interest in politics, in looking to enact policy that would help protect the environment. His concerns include fracking occurring in upstate New York to reach natural gas deposits and the creation of green energy. A full detailed description of his platform can be found on Mangelli's campaign website.
The Commack native will continue to campaign hard in the run-up to November's election. Only time and voters can tell his outcome. Either way, Mangelli promises you can expect to see him back in four years - now that he's made a name for himself.