With the unofficial campaign season now underway nearly six months in advance of Town Board elections, it is time for a conversation that I and others have had dozens of times by now to come out into the open.
When the Town Supervisor – the principle opponent of smart growth and Town/Village cooperation and a likely candidate for reelection – is a fellow Democrat, what is a good Democrat to do? Every indication is that Wes intends to run again. Everyone I have talked to assumes that he will run on a third-party line if denied the Democratic nomination at its caucus.
See the problem? By challenging and defeating the incumbent at the caucus, the Democrats would be creating a three-way race. With the two known Republican candidates for Supervisor – Patti Lavigne and Corrin Strong – both on the right side of the smart growth and Town/Village cooperation issues, that three way race would be certain to split the smart growth vote in a way that favored Wes.
By allowing Wes to have the Democratic nomination and creating a two-way race between him and the Republican nominee, the choice that confronts the community would be more clearly and neatly framed and Patti or Corrin’s chances would be improved.
The cost of this is that the Democrats would be giving their nomination to someone who has embraced Big Box and governmental sprawl, undermined efforts to plan our growth, silenced public opposition, and held all facets of town and village cooperation hostage to his agenda, all to the dismay of a good many of his previous supporters.
An additional consequence of not putting forward an alternative candidate is that Wes would be certain to claim his nomination as an endorsement for his actions and as evidence of the marginal standing of his opponents. On top of all this, there is no guarantee that either Patti or Corrin will receive the Republican endorsement.
This is the classic rock and a hard place.
What I know is that we desperately need a new administration and a new direction in the Town. The damage done to this community by the reckless pursuit of Big Box dreams will take some time to repair, far longer if Newman Development Group builds its Lowe’s. The repairs can’t begin without a new administration.
This November’s elections provide a long overdue opportunity for the community to be heard. Without the potential distractions and distortions presented by state and federal elections, we have a real opportunity for the election to serve as a referendum on how to grow and govern.
What I don’t know is what a good Democrat should do.
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