Here's the Scoop: Nov. 4, 2009
Vote for your elders
Election Day in a small town. There’s nothing like a little mud-slinging to get one’s heart racing and make you feel alive! Here in Middletown, the whole thing has been pretty low-key this year. Ask most people who is on the ballot this year and often you’ll get blank stares.
I like to think that this lack of interest is the result of good government. Disclosure here: For those non-political junkies, I have been a member of the Middletown Town Board for a few years.
Fortunately, I’m not up for re-election this year. It’s a lot of pressure — even if many folks don’t know there’s a race. Unlike national elections where you pretty much support a particular political party, local races have neighbors running against neighbors.
The fact that voters usually know the candidates weighs heavily in the final vote count. Some voters have long memories. So do some candidates.
I heard a story recently about one fellow, many years ago, who was taking his first dip into political waters. He was pounding the pavement pretty hard in his bid for election and kept a small notebook with voters’ responses to his door-to-door campaigning.
The day after the election, this fellow arrived at a local business and was distraught. He had lost by a considerable margin.
“Those people all lied to me,” he lamented. He then pulled out the notebook and displayed a list of the promised “Yes” votes that he had tallied. This figure fell far short of the actual number of votes he received.
In relating this story, one political veteran astutely pointed out, “The only people you can believe when you’re out campaigning are the ones who tell you they won’t vote for you.” That makes plenty of sense.
No sore winners
As noted earlier, for the most part, elections in small towns and villages are relatively calm events. Still, nobody likes to lose.
The Middletown balloting this year involves just one contested race — three gentlemen running for two board positions. All are good candidates and there has been practically zero mudslinging. Each candidate just wants to serve the town and no matter who wins, the taxpayers should be pleased.
I must note, however, that one of the candidates did comment that one of his reasons for running is that, “The current board is too old.” He then pointed out that “Brian is the youngest member and he’s about (blank) years old.” Considering myself eternally youthful, I was quite disturbed by this candidate’s very exaggerated estimate of my age.
All things considered, if this is the worst comment that’s made, the Middletown race is indeed flying under the radar.
Step across the town boundary into Shandaken just a few miles to the east and the political climate is not nearly as tame. The charges, counter-charges, lies, boasts and other outlandish claims are kind of stunning.
My first reaction to watching the Shandaken battle is: “Really? Is half of what each side is saying true?”
Then I wonder, if I lived in Shandaken, would I even entertain the notion of running for the board? Stranger yet, what if I were crazy enough to dip into those shark-infested waters and somehow win? I can only wonder how quickly that would age me…