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‘Campaign for Decency’ launched on the Island

COURTESY PHOTO Lisa Cholnoky,right, with Heights post office employee Joan Tehan late last month, preparing to mail 535 hand addressed letters to every member of Congress.

COURTESY PHOTO
Lisa Cholnoky,right, with Heights post office employee Joan Tehan late last month, preparing to mail 535 hand addressed letters to every member of Congress.

The massive amount of mail delivered daily to the U.S. Capitol for representatives and senators had a boost from Shelter Island late last month — 535 letters to be exact.

The mass mailing went out from the Heights post office from summer resident Lisa Cholnoky, announcing the launch of a nonpartisan “campaign for decency.” The goal is to bring civility back to political discourse through a grassroots effort that, Ms. Cholnoky hopes, “will catch on across the country.”

In each letter was a campaign-style button that reads, “Decency.”

Some of the pins sent to every member of Congress.

Some of the pins sent to every member of Congress.

Ms. Cholnoky said her campaign was spurred by the “shock” she experienced by people who “share their stories of broken friendships and families, divided because we’ve lost the ability to have civil discussions.”

The campaign and organization is, Ms. Cholnoky said, “a simple reminder of the basic standard of decency that every American deserves, regardless of their political views.”

Congressman Lee Zeldin’s communications director, Jennifer DiSiena, said Monday that Mr. Zeldin (R-Shirley) “has always worked across the aisle in a bipartisan fashion to find common ground however possible to better our community, state and nation.”

Marisa Kaufman, a spokeswoman for U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), said he “commends those who have helped mobilize and lead the various grassroots efforts in America and helped spur action on the critical issues we face across the country.”

Whitney Mitchell Brennan, communications director for  U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said, “Senator Gillibrand commends Lisa for speaking out and making her voice heard with her unifying message.”

The problem of a debased political debate is not just a national problem, Ms. Cholnoky said, but is alive on Shelter Island. She was part of a small, nonpartisan group that protested in the Center two weeks before November’s election against an unprecedented number of thefts and trashing of political signs around the Island.

Since the election, Ms. Cholnoky said, it’s been troubling to see neighbors who have lived across the street for years ignoring each other over political views.

“How much better off we would be if we could have the common decency to agree to disagree and move past our differences constructively,” the activist said. “Change begins at the grassroots level and we all have the power to change the conversation.”

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