Having just returned from the candidate’s forum at Haldane I am compelled to take a moment and raise a few points regarding this election as well as share some of the experience with the residents who were unable to attend. I must admit that I have been a bit surprised by the level of mudslinging coming out of the “BOFA” campaign regarding current board members and the running of all the Village Boards.
All of the boards, Village Board included, are filled with residents making an effort to serve their community to the best of their ability. They do this while continuing to juggle all the other aspects of their lives. In the years of living here and attending village meetings there has been an undeniable and substantial shift in the manner village government interacts with its residents. Things are far more open and engaged than ever before which most would agree is a good thing. The processes of administrating and governing are in constant need of improvement, but this small village does a lot with little resources.
Although it is election season, sadly we are not having substantial discussions regarding the best manner to move the village forward and strategies to address both the present challenges and the coming ones. Rather than discuss the complexities of large development projects in small communities, or how to implement the substantial grants to improve Main Street, the discussions revolve around finger pointing and newspaper hype.
Instead of substantial plans of action from all the candidates we have instead two candidates who have teamed up to run a campaign based on accusations and fault-finding. I think it is a detriment to both village life and productive administration of village business to give any credibility to issues that BOFA chooses to raise as cause for their candidacy.
Here’s a few points from tonight to show we all need and deserve more than these candidates offer. Despite repeatedly mentioning civility and “working together,” BOFA has demonstrated an extensive ability to be derisive, and finger point while providing virtually no solutions to issues they tout as problems for the village. At tonight’s forum I personally asked them to provide actual steps they intended to take to address the issues facing the village — here is what was stated:
- Put a document scanner into use at village clerk’s office
- Install cameras into the courtroom
- Use existing good relationships to work with other board members.
These are the only items they listed as points of action, when they have strongly criticized the handling of so many aspects of village governance.
Furthermore when another resident asked each candidate to explain what steps would be taken to address the village’s most pressing issues of sewer, water, and dams, the first response was to lambast the lack of action by the village. Only when directly challenged by an audience member to answer the question, did Michael Bowman say “form a committee,” and avoided explaining exactly how that would solve the issues.
Bowman also lamented that Cold Spring is not the village that he remembers from his childhood. As three decades have passed, there are very few places anywhere that resemble the places they were of 30 odd years ago. Actively touting “lived here all my life” as credential No. 1 of his door hanger is the outdated and divisive kind of rhetoric that I would hope to never come into play in an election. Just living in one place does not constitute a qualification for serving the broad constituency who live and pay taxes in this village. Choosing to advertise it as the top of the list of qualifications in your advertising media implies attitudes that have no place in our Village Board.
I believe board members who are looking to the future, not the past, best serve the village residents. Members who will rely on and utilize talents and expertise they have accrued through life experience to meet the challenges facing our village.
Lastly, accusing potential co-board members of unethical conduct over issues dismissed by the village attorney does little or nothing to foster good working relationships. How does someone who so readily slings allegations in an attempt for personal gain justify or even rationalize a claim that they will “work together?” And if Bowman winds up on the board with the people he accused of impropriety? How does his “good relationships” then further the village resident’s agenda?
Essentially all of this is to say that as residents we deserve and should demand better than this from our candidates. The time has come to move beyond these non-issues and empty rhetoric. We deserve candidates who are not quick to insult, and have more to offer than criticisms and condemnation. Our litmus for handling our taxes and guiding the village into the future should be much, much higher.