This political venue is certainly bigger than me. The level of animosity between parties is stunning. Why am I involved; a lifelong Republican running on the local Democratic platform in Hoosick Falls? Not many are asking that or where I stand on issues. This community certainly has issues worthy of debate.
Most notably, the town government is run by the current town supervisor. Now, this is not a personal attack on Keith Cipperly. Keith is not a bad man. However, the mantle of office has exposed certain serious challenges he faces of his own accord:
* Treating people with respect, especially if they have a different view.
* Taking criticism without a punitive response or bullying.
* Running town meetings according to public open meeting laws.
* Being divisive and non-collaborative.
Keith is a hardworking person. I suggest that his governance of our town board does not represent well, the spirit of the people of Hoosick. The ends do not always justify the means, especially when we seem to be more fractured and divided than most ever remember.
We have a proud tradition here. True, we are struggling economically and we need to be strong, smart and tough. But, we can also have optimism, collaboration, and fellowship.
Hoosick people are equal to any elsewhere. Our young people prove that every day and in every venue.
Recently, the town employees decided to unionize. They did this to protect themselves from a heavy handed supervisor who felt he would change their health care without telling or asking either them or the town board. This single act will likely make any of the recent claims of fiscal accountability less than moot. At the last town meeting, the board felt unsure about the ability to purchase an $8,000 lawn mower for the upkeep of the athletic fields. Their uncertainty was due to not knowing just how much the newly unionized town crew was going to cost. As a taxpayer, I can say that I am not happy to think that we cannot afford a new lawn mower. Fortunately, the good Village of Hoosick Falls is mowing the athletic fields for us.
I do not believe that these hardworking men really wanted a union. Unfortunately, they needed one to protect themselves from unfair and uncourteous treatment. Add in the disgraceful treatment of Bill Shiland Sr., a good, honest, public servant of more than 25 years. How does the public feel about the treatment of Mark Surdam? He continues to behave professionally and even with kindness as he is called names in public and behind his back. He is being openly slandered by people with less character than he in public while consistently and steadily working to bring some sense and civility to the Hoosick Town Board meetings. If you voted for Mark Surdam last election, you are being denied your representation on the town board because they have shut him out of regular correspondence.
If the supervisor and his supporters do not like what you have to say, they simply close the door. Talk to any of the people who up until recently were Town of Hoosick Republican Committee members. Add to this that Keith directed Charlie Filkins to stop videotaping the town meetings. Now he claims that we cannot afford to share town business on the public access channel.
We wish to have government of, for and by the people, not just the people we like or always agree with. This is what we, as responsible adults and citizens have as a duty to those who follow us. There is so much more to the people of Hoosick than fear, hate, division and economic challenge. We need better leadership here.
I am proud to stand behind Mark Surdam in this election. His character has shown through in the face of enormous adversity. He is a fine candidate for the town.
To again answer the question my wife lovingly keeps asking me: "Why are you doing this, David?" My answer: "I will pay forward the kindness shown a little Hoosick boy by names of families such as Pine, Baker, Seifert, Harrington, Laporte, Mahar, Cipperly, Martinez, Brownell, Bilson, Cottrell, Sura, Roose, Corbett, Leonard, McGovern, Bugbee, Holbrook, Stempek, Chapones, McGuire, Marsh, Magisano and others. My glass is full as a result of those kinds of people." Would some be fool enough to ask me whether I care what political party they belonged to?
What kind of community do the people of Hoosick want? What kind of town government? We need to come together as a community. Together we can do much for Hoosick. There are many who are relying on us to do so.
If you disagree with me, it is okay but feel free to discuss, debate, and voice your concerns; this is the U.S.A.
David A. Sutton is a Republican running on the Democratic ticket for a position on the Hoosick Falls Town Board. He is a member of the Hoosick Falls School Board.