Friday, October 16, 2009

Candidate Forum

The Schenectady County League of Women Voters will be sponsoring a Rotterdam Candidate Forum on Tuesday, October 20th at the Rotterdam Branch Public Library. The event is scheduled to begin at 6:15 pm and is scheduled to end at 8:15 pm.

This is an event I have attended several times in the past as a voter. I’ve always found it beneficial in some regard. This time, of course, I will be there as a candidate. I hope my views can offer the same benefit of helping voters make their choice.

I like this event because it tries to assemble all the candidates for office in one place, gives them each an opportunity to briefly lay out their message, and provides those in attendance to ask the candidates questions.

Nearly the entire Town of Rotterdam Town Board is being contested, with races for Town Supervisor and 3 Town Council seats. This year the event takes on even more significance because of the inclusion of the No New Tax Party slate of candidates. Voters will get to choose from 3 candidates for each slot instead of the usual two.

It’s a great opportunity to get better informed on the important issues facing the town and the vision each candidate has for addressing them. I hope you’ll attend.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Taking Stock

With 3 weeks to Election Day, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on a few things. Becoming a candidate for office and subjecting myself to the rigors and scrutiny of campaigning has reinforced my distaste for many aspects of status quo politics. But that reinforcement only reaffirmed that I took the right path when I decided to get more involved. From the very beginning for me, it’s been about “changing the game” rather than “playing it.” I’ve been fortunate to be able to remain true to the unorthodox approach I set for myself when I jumped into the mix so my integrity is still intact anyway. (I’ve offered other early reflections in a guest post on Poli-Tea a few weeks ago.)

By the way, I succeeded in winning my primary in September for the Republican ballot line, knocking off the hand-picked candidate chosen by the party. I’m told that has significance because with a major party line “I might be able to win.” I find that pretty amusing. I don’t attribute the same significance to securing that ballot line as others do. I think the independent No New Tax Party ballot line we created is more powerful than it gets credit for. If elected, I hope that’s where I garner the votes.

Here’s how I view the significance of winning the Republican primary. It’s a giant win for the credibility of the No New Tax Party candidate slate. It’s proof that our message is resonating with voters. It’s proof that message and effort can trump party boss agenda. In addition, it was good strategy because it eliminated one of our opponents earlier. In the end, labels shouldn’t matter. Whoever gets elected is supposed to represent all the residents, not a select few.

That last sentence brings to mind a question posed to me at a recent Rotterdam Business Association dinner we were invited to speak at. The questioner essentially acknowledged and appreciated the alternative choice the No New Tax Party candidates would provide voters but wanted to know how we’d be any different at being able to get along with each other or someone else in order to actually facilitate solutions. It was a great question. In one swoop, it encompassed all the hope and promise our slate of candidates offered while also introducing the entrenched underlying doubts and fears about politicians promising change. Being able to overcome differences and produce results is always the wild card factor. I answered the question the best I knew how in the moment and I hope it sufficed but I haven’t stopped asking it in my head. Just the fact the question was posed demands one goal must be being able to consistently put aside partisanship and simply produce the results that are needed. In the end, it all comes back to shedding labels for real and working for the public good, not that of some special interest. For me, the question itself now serves as a constant reminder of that obligation.

Our third party involvement in this election has already impacted policy and actions of the other candidates. The current administration originally sought to unilaterally impose a new town-wide tax district. The No New Tax Party candidates were the only ones to take an early position against it and publicly oppose it. Our outspokenness contributed to sending the issue to a future public referendum to decide the matter. The No New Tax Party candidates advocate a 0% tax levy increase for the next 2 years. That entire notion was originally dismissed by the current administration that said that approach was both impossible and irresponsible, yet they eventually followed that with a tentative budget proposal that yields no tax increase. (Isn’t it funny how it suddenly becomes possible in an election year?) Our other opposition adopted a campaign flyer banner of the Tax Cut Team. It seems like the major parties want to be more like us all of a sudden. That tells me we’ve been listening to the voters better than they have because we were there first and we were there early. Win or lose, we’ve definitely been successful in shaping the discussion. But we were never in it to simply have influence on the dialogue. We’ve always been in it to win and affect the change people want. In 3 weeks, we’ll find out.