This year's village elections are so interesting that it seems like half the letters in this week's paper were from out of town. It's not an easy choice, and I haven't actually made it yet, because I don't like closing my mind off to the possibilities. Voting is an art perfected by procrastination - you never know what may change someone's mind.
I like to ask questions which are unorthodox, because they provide a lot of insight. Like whether or not you'd be willing to wear a top hat if elected mayor, or whether you support a village militia. Questions like that tell me a lot about how a candidate views the job, or views the village. I know that I've only got one vote, but we all know how important one vote is in the Village of New Paltz, don't we?
I know that the clever voters are only voting for one four-year trustee spot, because they don't want their votes to counteract each other. I can't tell you which pairs of candidates would cause that to happen, but there are plenty of people closer to the pulse of the voters than I.
More and more I am finding that I trust candidates who have lived in New Paltz for more than twenty minutes (that's Dener minutes, each one equals a year). I don't care if the candidate's family hauled stones for Jean Hasbrouck, though; just because you're related to history doesn't mean that you have any knowledge or appreciation of it.
My bias towards age is in part fueled by two subpar trustees which we've elected in the past ten years. We've also had plenty of terrible trustees and mayors who were much older, so I don't completely trust my gut on this one. At least one young candidate strikes me as being completely unaware about village concerns and issues. Another seems quite the opposite.
I'd like to see the residency requirements monitored and enforced more aggressively. There's no reason for rumor or expectation of trustees not living in the village; we need a rule that can be tracked and verified so the situation can be dealt with. I'd like to add to that an attendance requirement. I don't care if the village board meets twice a year or 200, but trustees should be attendance for the vast majority of the time.
At the Chamber of Commerce forum I came to realize that village politics do not have to be dominated by people with engaging public speaking skills. This is a small town, so if we choose, we can elect someone who is shy, or suffers from stage fright, or whose reflective personality doesn't lend itself to quick, off-the-cuff answers. We also don't have to vote for one person because it will improve the chances of someone else being elected. No, we can actually choose to vote for the people that will put the best foot of New Paltz forward.
Sorry I don't have any endorsements, or even decisions, quite yet. Elections are just too important to rush.