BOFA Wins Both Village Trustee Seats

Absentee ballots a factor

By Michael Turton

Your vote counts. That’s one undeniable lesson to be taken from Michael Bowman and Cathryn Fadde’s win in the Village of Cold Spring election for two trustee seats on March 18 (Tuesday). Running as the “BOFA” team, Bowman and Fadde earned 398 and 395 votes respectively in defeating first-time candidate Donald MacDonald and incumbent Matt Francisco, who garnered 378 and 362 votes respectively. Mary Saari, clerk for the Village of Cold Spring, indicated that 1,411 residents were eligible to vote.

For 45 minutes after voting ended, reporters, a few members of the Cold Spring Fire Company and a handful of other onlookers waited rather nervously in the fire hall garage, while next door, election officials went about the business of finalizing the count. Tallying the votes using electronic voting machines provided by Putnam County took only the push of a button. However, the paper ballots used in absentee voting had to be counted manually, and only after the electronic count had been determined, in order to ensure that no one who submitted an absentee ballot had voted twice. Once that task was completed and verified, the final results were read aloud.

Absentee ballots made a difference

Absentee ballots played a much more significant role than in the 2013 election, when only 37 such votes were cast. In Tuesday’s election, more than double that number, 76 absentee ballots, were counted. Bowman and Fadde were the big winners, collecting 46 and 43 votes respectively from the absentee ballots, while MacDonald and Francisco collected only 26 and 23 votes respectively. Had those numbers been reversed, MacDonald and Francisco would have been the top two vote getters.

Candidates react

Immediately after the results were announced, Bowman told The Paper that he is looking forward to working with the new Village Board. “I think it was a very dark election,” he said, adding that one of his first priorities will be to “extend an olive branch” to those who opposed him.

Cathryn Fadde and Michael Bowman immediately after hearing of their victory at the Cold Spring Firehouse (Photo by Kevin E. Foley)

Cathryn Fadde and Michael Bowman immediately after hearing of their victory at the Cold Spring Firehouse (Photo by Kevin E. Foley)

Fadde said she felt that BOFA’s door-to-door campaign had an impact. “We talked to a lot of people, and we listened,” she said. “And we’re not going to let people down.”

MacDonald, who chairs the Zoning Board of Appeals, seemed unfazed by the loss. “This was the first time I put myself out there … and it was a wonderful experience,” he said. “I want to thank everyone who voted and all those who supported us.”

“I think it was great. It was the democratic process in action … and there was a big turnout,” Francisco said, just minutes after learning that he had not been returned to office. “I’m looking forward to getting back to private life,” he said, quickly adding, “but you’ll still see me at meetings.”

Vindication

The night was vindication for Bowman, who last March promised, “I will be back,” after being edged out by only nine votes by Stephanie Hawkins in his first run for the Village Board. Bowman collected 310 votes in 2013. In topping the polls with 398 votes in Tuesday’s election, he increased that total by 28 percent. In contrast, when Francisco was elected in 2012, he received 401 votes. The 362 votes he received in 2014 was a 10 percent decline.

The newly constituted Village Board will meet for the first time in early April. According to Saari, the current board will meet at least once and possibly twice before Bowman and Fadde are sworn in.


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15 thoughts on “BOFA Wins Both Village Trustee Seats

  1. As a relative newcomer to Philipstown (I moved here six years ago) I’ve enjoyed (and been dismayed by) my unique perspective of the policies and politics of our town and village. Seth Gallagher was elected as Mayor in the first village election I participated in as a voter, and I remember well the way my neighbors — sweet, protective folks who took good care of me (a newly single mom with a very young son) — and how they yelled after to me to vote for the other guy as I walked past them on my way to cast my vote.

    I didn’t think much of their attempt at coercion at the time. To be honest, I didn’t really care who won that year — I hadn’t lived here long enough to understand the nuances of the battle — and besides, I had grown up in a small, upstate New York town — a town where my father held office as the (Republican) president of our city’s Water Board for nearly 20 years — and understood that the genuine passion to preserve a town’s legacy trumped almost everything else during political races like that (and often for good reason).

    I recognize the importance of history. And of experience. And I hold a deep appreciation for the unique intelligence of the archival knowledge of folks who make up governments in small towns like Cold Spring. I’m a terrible sports fan and so I’m registered Independent (because I never like to wear foam fingers and take sides, either) so I vote with my heart and my gut and can’t always tell you why.

    Though I’d never be a good politician, I’m a really good friend, and though my politics have always fallen very far to the left of my (very conservative) aforementioned father’s on issues such as abortion and gun control and fluoridated water, we love each other, so our differences of opinion about matters even as important as those, have never descended into personal attacks. First we are family. Then we are fellow community members. Then we are people. We’ve never even waded into the murky pit of where enemy lines fall.

    I guess in some cases, like in Cold Spring though, some folks insist on separating themselves by party lines.

    This election…THIS ELECTION…one that has been contentious and ugly and rude from the very start…was decided, in the end, by 20 votes — or 17 in the case of the second place winner — (though bloatedly reported in the PCNR as a “big win”) — has divided our community in the most divisive and unkind way possible. It’s outcome has met my gravest fear, and conceivably injured our beloved town’s soul in a manner that may never heal.

    I’m sad for that. For the broken soul of this adopted town of mine that I’ve grown love; a town that my son calls home.

    This is a town that carries a physical beauty that still manages to take my breath away, despite this endless winter. I miss its evening light when I’m away, even after a half a decade of watching the sun set over the river. We are blessed to live in a village of unequaled allure; a community that causes my NYC friends (who refer to it as “Brigadoon” when they visit) to comb the real estate windows on Main Streets searching for houses they can afford as second homes.

    Will its magic be gone tomorrow? We we turn our heads away from one another’s when we pass each other on the street? Will we become an “us” and “them” place like that island that Dr Seuss’s Star Bellied Sneeches inhabit?

    In the coming days it’s not going to be the significance of who won tonight that matters (and, to be completely transparent, I cast my votes for the other two guys), but a necessary choice of these two newly elected officials to find a way to try and bridge the monstrous gap that remains between those 20 votes; to try and heal the very critical injuries this election cost the members of our very small town. Everyone is bloodied from the fight. And everyone is tired. It is up to our elected leaders to help to stave off this seemingly never-ending divisive and blood-letting fight.

    20 votes.
    17 votes.
    That’s it.
    It could have gone either way.

    I hope our newly elected board members recognize that nearly half of the vote casters tonight voted for the other guy. It’ll be important for both of them to remember that often during the coming two years.

    I fell a little out of love with Cold Spring over these past few weeks, but I want to find a reason to be in love with it again. Yes, spring is coming. Eventually Dockside will be green and Breakneck will be packed with hipsters and cars will be fighting for parking on Main Street.

    It is my hope that, in the meantime, we can, as a community and a people, find a way to come together as the beacon of beauty and hope that so many from the outside come to bask in.

    • I agree, this election has been ugly, rude and just all around saddening. This is not the Cold Spring that I grew up in and don’t blame you for falling out of love with this quiet little place. I’m glad it’s over (happy to see Mike and Cathryn have won) and I too hope that Cold Spring can recover soon.

      At some point during the campaign Mike referenced the days when you could have a beer after the meeting with the very people who just brought an issue to the Board. It used to be that way in Cold Spring and it would be nice to see Cathryn and Mike bring Cold Spring back to those days.

      Let’s hope the 2015 elections are little more neighborly – like they used to be.

    • Christine, thank you for capturing the sentiments of many, if not everyone, in Cold Spring. Our elected officials, once elected, represent all of us. Their job is to find common ground so villagers can continue to enjoy each other and our superb surroundings. Well done.

    • I agree, there are many folks in the village who insist on separating themselves by party lines. Thank goodness Michael and Cathryn see beyond that. Their common goal is to unite the community and dissolve the divisiveness of the last few years. The election cycle has been vicious and unbearable, but throughout it Michael and Cathryn have remained calm and they played fair, even while enduring the mudslinging and dishonesty toward them. Yes, almost half of the village voted for the other guys, but more than half of the village did vote for Michael and Cathryn. The great thing about this is they have two years to prove to the half that did not vote for them what they can do for the village and that they are here to serve all. Congratulations to Michael Bowman and Cathryn Fadde!

      • With all due respect, I think it is valuable to acknowledge that the ugly cut both ways in this election. Matt and Donald themselves ran as clean a campaign as Cathryn and Michael did. But the broader circles of partisans on each side really went above and beyond and in so doing sullied the good names of the candidates they advocated for. That happened in both directions, across multiple media platforms, and seemingly without end. I think that is what Christine is really talking about.

        I don’t hold it was all partisans. You yourself, Donna, were a tireless advocate for M&C, and you did so with constant grace. I do not think the same could said across the board.

        I do look to the next two years of Cathryn and Michael’s service. I look for them, as I have said directly to Michael before, to rise above it. Not just from the attacks of their opponents, but also from the shrillness of some of their supporters.

        • Thank you Chris. Even though I support Mike and Cathryn I do commend all the candidates for putting themselves out there and I do feel all four care very deeply for the village. I know that Michael and Cathryn will make it one of their top priorities to reach out to those that were opposed to them and listen to their thoughts and ideas. I hope everyone can work together and from this point on be civil toward one another. It seems that’s already begun (at least if you look at all the local Facebook forums). Let’s hope it continues.

    • Thank you, Christine, for a most thoughtful analysis. I couldn’t have said it better.

    • Very nicely stated Christine. I hope that you had the opportunity to vote. Now it’s time to let the healing begin.

  2. Christine, thank you for taking the time to write that. As a 15-year weekender in the village (thus no voting privilege), I feel very much like you do. I grew up in a small town like Cold Spring (I would guess that’s what drew most of us “newcomers” here in the first place), and have many relatives and friends with much more socially and politically conservative leanings than I have who I love and get along with just fine. It’s been very painful to me to watch the downward spiral of civility and consideration that’s occurred in this community over the past few years. So unnecessary, so small-minded, so manipulative. Stomach turning.

    It’s also hit me at a transitional time in my life, and I’ll soon be saying goodbye to Cold Spring. The train trip from Grand Central that I have loved so much has become emotional torture for me as I remember all the happy days I’ve spent here and won’t be much longer. I hope that my exit will open the door for someone else to discover the joys of Cold Spring, and I hope that they will enjoy more peaceful times. But that will require people with wiser wills and stronger voices to stand up to the egomaniacs who are intent on dividing the village without falling into the trap of partisan tit-for-tat.

    And please tell your NYC friends that their piece of Brigadoon is currently available at 8 Furnace Street!

  3. Bravo Christine. This one was nasty on both sides, no matter how often one side or the other pat themselves on the back for truth, honesty, and cleanliness of campaigning. Let us see how both sides can come together to bridge the deepest 20-vote gap anyone can remember.

  4. Congratulations Mike and Cathryn! Thank you to Donald and Matt for putting themselves out there and running.

    Coming together as a community isn’t just up to the victors – although they have a great platform for helping set the tone — it is also a choice all of us needs to make and can only be measured in actions and words (verbal or written; attributed or “anonymous”). Here’s hoping everyone does their part.

  5. Regardless of the outcome, the extremely low voter turnout is discouraging for the ideal of interest in local elections.

  6. Thank you, Christine! I congratulate Michael and Cathryn, and I thank Matt and Donald for their past and continuing service to the community. I thank everyone who sticks their neck out for public service.

    It is time to heal. It is time for neighbors to be neighborly. Let the outcome turn to collective hard work, decency and respect. Our government is ourselves, and it couldn’t be any more apparent than in a community like ours.

  7. I would like to commend the residents of Cold Spring for their activism, involvement and passion that was exhibited during this election. Some people have commented that things got down and dirty, but I don’t think that was the case at all, especially compared to some of the stuff that I’ve seen in Put Valley and other towns. There was a robust, open debate among the candidates. They all worked hard trying to connect with voters and get their message out. This kind of civic involvement has become all too rare these days as most people simply can’t be bothered to take part in their government. Bravo, Cold Spring!