It is now day 21 of the October 2017 edition of the Ultimate Blogging Challenge. Today’s suggestion was to discuss the election campaigns. This year is considered to be an “off year,” meaning that the elections are mostly local in nature.
Local elections generally attract fewer voters than national elections. In my opinion, this is hard to understand. Last year, I was writing about the toxic nature of the presidential election. I felt that the process of electing the president was a disaster and that the selection of candidates was abysmal. In short, I felt that the presidential election was a disgrace.
|Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray|
Local elections cannot and must not be the mini-me version of the presidential election, with the “electoral college,” that creates “winner take all” states, obliterating the votes of the minority. In the presidential election, if you live in a state that is not a “swing state,” your vote barely even matters. In a presidential election, it is easy and common to feel a disconnect with the two major political parties and with the candidates, who are completely inaccessible to the average voters, despite their constant presence in the news media. In a local election, every vote counts. Two years ago, Grand Island’s Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray was elected by fourteen votes, after the affadavit ballots and the absentee ballots were counted. Your vote matters.
It is the people who are elected to local office who have to be most responsive to their constituents. They have to be available to answer questions and to listen to concerns. They can’t hide behind fences and Secret Service. They are not going to be paid off by large corporations or other special interests. Our local officials are our neighbors and our friends. We see them in the supermarket or in the library or at the school play. They are a part of our day-to-day lives. We have to elect people who are both good listeners and good leaders. We also need to elect people with the experience and skills that will better enable them to deal with such crises as the impending loss of 30 to 60 percent of Grand Island’s trees as the result of the emerald ash borer infestation, the opioid epidemic, and the prevalence of domestic violence. I purposely did not ask the candidates to comment on issues but, instead, to tell me their personal stories. The upcoming candidates’ forum will be the best time for them to focus on issues.
I had the good fortune to be able to interview three of the four candidates for Grand Island’s town council. Because this blog is a labor of love, as opposed to a “real job,” I decided that I would interview only the candidates who had reached out to me. Hence, I missed one of the candidates, Pete Marston, who is a business owner and the chairman of the town’s planning board.
I truly enjoyed getting to know Jennifer Baney, Cyndy Montana, and Celia Spacone, and I was fascinated by their stories.
I believe that they are all good people who sincerely want to make a difference in their communities. I believe, also, that Grand Island is at a crossroads.
We have it within ourselves to create good change that will benefit current community members, as well as generations yet to come. We must elect people to office who want to create that good change, while also not busting the budget. Life is about growth and change; it is not about living in the past, and it’s not about remaining stagnant. It is up to the voters to decide which of these candidates is best equipped to help implement the changes that our community needs, both now and in the future.
|Celia Spacone with
Rep. Brian Higgins
In the past few weeks, I have also had the good fortune of being able to spend more time with Cyndy Montana and Celia Spacone. When I participated in Church World Service’s annual CROP walk, which combats hunger, both in the world and in the local community, I spent an hour and a half walking with Celia and sharing our perspectives of the world and of our community. There was a campaign event at Mallwitz’s, a local bowling alley, and I bowled with Cyndy, Celia and Celia’s mom. It was fun and relaxing for everyone who participated.
|Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray
with town council candidates
Celia Spacone and Cyndy Montana
On Wednesday, I went to Celia’s house for an informal party and a “meet and greet” with Brian Higgins, who is the Member of the House of Representatives for the 26th district of New York.
A candidates’ night has been scheduled for Thursday, October 26th, at 7 p.m., at Kaegebein Elementary School on Love Road. People are encouraged to arrive at 6 p.m., to have time to submit questions for the candidates, running for four town offices: two town council seats, town justice, and town highway superintendent.
It’s up to the voters to decide who to elect, based on the vision of the candidates, as they have articulated during this campaign season. Election Day is November 7th. Those of us who serve as election inspectors will hand out “I voted” stickers this year. Come to vote and bring a friend.
Stay tuned! There may be a few more candidate interviews!