Voters have spoken well and clearly in Shandaken and Olive.
Those newly elected to the town boards are all excellent choices,
and we wish them well in their future adventures in public
service. In both towns, the predominant issue was for general
change. In Olive, that need was expressed in a fairly modest
fashion via the seating of challenger and GOP candidate Peter
Friedel on the board. But it was obviously done effectively
enough to push some of the old guard into suggesting that
the vote ended up as it did because the ballots weren’t
in the order people expected. In Shandaken, there will be
a new Supervisor and three new faces on the board.
The big issues in Olive that will need immediate tackling
have to do with a widening of the town’s focus away
from its city-centric vision of recent years to a number of
key community matters that have to do with the changes effecting
the town from the outside world. The Olive of 2008 is a much
different place from the Olive that greeted much of the town’s
administration when it first took office. The question isn’t
simply about getting new deals from reservoir taxes, to pay
for better recreational infrastructure than most neighboring
towns, but about finding new ways to ensure all elements of
the community are getting the most out of Olive it can. More
people have to be made enthusiastic about their town government,
and lured into running for office.
The first big issue facing Shandaken will have to do with
the new board’s appointment of someone to fill out the
remaining two years of newly-elected supervisor Peter DiSclafani’s
term. This should happen at its first reorganization meeting
in January, which means discussions should be underway now.
Not an easy task, but might we suggest, as a starter, that
the four elected men welcome a woman into their midst, as
well as someone from the western half of town, the better
to provide the sort of balance Shandaken has been needing
in its administrative dealings for years now? Several names
come to mind… the key is that the appointment not look
partisan, and feels honestly unifying.
The election season recently ended was, by comparison to the
bitter and highly charged races of ‘03 and ’05,
mercifully brief and pleasantly quiet. Full participation
by all parties in the highly successful League of Women Voters
events was a positive shift. Hopefully, we won’t see
any after-the-fact revenge actions in either of our towns
when board appointments get made in a few weeks…
We do want to voice our grave misgivings about a last-minute
mailing in Shandaken directed at Jane Todd’s candidacy,
where information was presented anonymously. This kind of
communication, as Supervisor-elect DiSclafani immediately
expressed in an Election Day mailer, is completely unacceptable
under any circumstances… it amounts to rogue political
activity. Similarly, some last minute “joke” signs
around Olive played to the same mean spiritedness.
As the election results showed in both towns, such matters
are not necessary. Voters are not stupid.
We hope and trust we never see this type of communication
used against any candidate’s reputation again. When
people act as if an end justifies any means, our public life
descends to a level none of us can justify to ourselves or
our neighbors. Such does not reflect the public sentiment
we have observed that wants better, more open and accountable
Now… on to our school board. Anyone looking closely
at the figures being bandied about for changes on schedule
at Onteora? We’ll keep you informed… and see you
at the polls again in the Spring.