Imagine that you're a Dryden political party, say the Republican party, that's facing a tough Town Board election:
You, the Republican party, had a really hard time finding candidates.
When you finally do have candidates, your Supervisor candidate, Cheryl Nelson, has a full-time job she'd like to keep on the west edge of Ithaca, and the new Town Hall is on the eastern edge of Dryden - a half-hour drive away.
Not only that, Cheryl reports to the County Planning Commissioner, and the largest project the Town Supervisor needs to lead is, well, planning and zoning - something the Town and County tend to have very different views about.
Her public works focus at her job shares territory with Town projects as well.
You could try to run on issues and experience, but there's a problem, actually several:
The opposing Supervisor candidate, Mary Ann Sumner, has the time needed to focus on the job.
Mary Ann and one of the Town Board candidates, David Makar, are incumbents with a reputation for getting things done.
Mary Ann worked hard to solve a zoning issue that was preventing people from building windmills to power their homes.
Mary Ann and David found development money the Town was letting sit around (without even collecting interest!) and moved forward with plans to use it.
They finally put into action a budget line that was supposed to help community centers, creating a process for distributing that money, something the previous one-party board just couldn't figure out.
All of the Democratic candidates have experience immediately relevant to the work of the board.
I can see where that might be intimidating. There is, however, another option that dodges all of these obstacles: assault your opponents' patriotism.
Have your Republican supporters ask leading questions at debates about the Pledge, God, and the POW/MIA flag. (Don't have your candidates push on these issues directly - personal involvement could backfire.)
Push hardest on the issue that is just plain false, claims that your opponent wants to remove the POW/MIA flag. If you repeat a lie constantly, enough people may think it's true.
Have your candidate claim the mantle of patriotism, announcing that "she considers herself patriotic and considers family values to be of the utmost importance."
That last step appears in this morning's Journal article profiling Republican Cheryl Nelson and Democrat Mary Ann Sumner, the two candidates for Dryden Supervisor.
The entire article is worth reading, though at least one of Cheryl Nelson's claims is misleading at best:
"On the conflict-of-interest question, Nelson produced a letter from the Office of the U.S. Special Counsel saying her employment is not an ethical problem and that she is eligible to serve."
That letter doesn't mean that there are no ethical problems with conflict of interest, only that there are no ethical problems involving federal funds. That letter says that she doesn't work for an office that receives enough federal funds for her to be ineligible to run, as specified by the Hatch Act.
Perhaps it's not surprising, but I find Mary Ann Sumner's comments a lot more useful for evaluating her strengths as a candidate:
While she wants to focus on farmland preservation and other efforts to retain Dryden's rural character, Sumner said, "bringing more business to Dryden is a high priority."
"It will happen whether or not we plan it. So, let's plan it. Let's take care to maximize the number of jobs available to Dryden residents and opportunities to buy local products from local retailers. Let's minimize environmental impact by encouraging commercial development in areas close to existing infrastructure and by promoting sustainable energy buildings and storm-water runoff controls," Sumner added.
During her time as a board member, Sumner said she worked with the conservation board to draft a law allowing construction of residential solar and wind energy projects and worked with the town board to pass the law; established working committees to help Republican Steven Trumbull, the current town supervisor, delegate responsibilities among town board members; and worked "extensively" with fire departments, eliminating the need for a paid fire coordinator this year and incorporating fire department board members into the Town Board Emergency Services Committee "to give continuity to town-wide planning for emergency services."
"I'm now working with the planning board, conservation board, building department and town attorney to assure that the proposed Stormwater Runoff Mitigation ordinance addresses erosion and sedimentation control to preserve our watersheds without undue burden on the town or on subdivision and building permit applicants," Sumner said.
I can see why the Republicans would prefer not to run against that. There's tremendous competence there, experience that has already produced great results.
Today's Journal also has a pretty good summary of the Town Board candidates' positions and background.
There's also a lot on the opinion page:
Joseph Laquatra of Dryden writes to support Mary Ann Sumner for Supervisor.
Karl Smolenski and Alita Howard of Dryden support Joe Solomon for Town Board.
Kathy Zahler of Dryden writes to support Mary Ann Sumner for Supervisor, and David Makar and Joe Solomon for Town Board.
Michael Davie of Dryden writes to encourage municipalities to support the SPCA's request for more funding for animal-control.
The Monitor records a DWI on Route 13 in Dryden.Posted by simon at October 27, 2007 9:54 AM in politics (local)