Choice Is Yours, Not Theirs
We think the time has come to shift the way the town is going
in a small but symbolic fashion. We think it’s time
that one of our incumbents goes, and someone new comes onto
the town board. We endorse Peter Friedel’s run for the
Olive Town Board.
Who he should defeat is not a choice we care to make. The
two candidates he is running against, Henry Rank and Linda
Burkhardt, are both good people, strong workers, caring individuals
who prove their love for Olive day in and day out. The town
board, as it’s existed now for four years completely
intact, and several decades in basic configuration, does a
good job… running basic town business through a series
of effective, community-minded committees, and looking after
all the legal rigmarole, from Olive’s endless lawsuits
with the city to its current attempts to get other towns to
help us in our battle against the Large Parcel legislation
that stunned us all a few years back. They do their work.
But it’s our belief that they’d still do their
work just as well with a fresh face, a new voice and corresponding
set of eyes, on the board. And therein lies the crux, as a
Shakespearean character would have put it.
Throughout the past election season there’s been much
talk about how those seeking political office would do better
to wait until some of the present board decides to retire.
Don’t shake the cart, in other words. Similarly, within
the current discussion about a spending plan for the coming
year, the idea of increasing salaries has come up as a means
of attracting better candidates for the positions to be filled…
as if they were jobs to be applied for to the current board.
Last winter, meanwhile, an entire town planning board was
let to resign based on a political rift. And replaced by appointment,
without open solicitation.
More recently, among the questions that came up in last weekend’s
Meet the Candidates event, which had poor attendance but dedicated
involvement by the town board, the subject of changing demographics
in Olive resulted in quite a few complaints about the people
moving into town and now making this their home. The lack
of political involvement by so many in town was seen as the
fault of everyone else but those in town government.
And I, as the press, writing about these matters, was characterized
on a couple of occasions as being little more than an annoyance.
All of these things have weighed in our decision to endorse
Peter Friedel here. We think it important that a new and different
voice get on the town board, even if that voice is really
not that new or different from those already there. WE also
think it important that the job of setting the town’s
political future not be left solely in the hands of those
who have already been running the town for decades. Because
that reeks of a political machine, and not the sort of democracy
that makes for the best kinds of community.
Olive is a more diverse place than it was 20, 30 years ago
when our current town board started setting itself in place.
It’s likely to become even more diverse in the years
Preparing for future changes, and even newer faces on our
board, should not be a scary thing. The basic problems Olive
faces, involving our continuous battles with New York City
and State, are never going to go away. But they will respond
to new tactics… and likely result over time in more
new benefits, like the various recreational facilities our
town boasts, and that others envy.
I doubt saying these things will win me any more friends in
town than I have already at this point. But having covered
Olive now for over five years, and dozens of municipalities
in these Catskills for over 20 years, I feel these things
need to be said.
Towns that refuse change too long grow stagnant, even with
the best people in charge. Or they end up facing difficult
Olive needs neither scenario, and with the choice of Peter
Friedel as a new face on the town board, what changes occur
will not be painful in any way. And they’ll make for
a good start when we get the chance to look back at these
fine years, and this fine board now entering its final days,
in the time soon to come.