Incumbent legislators shouldn’t view election victories as endorsement from public
At a reception in late November, one of our Orleans County Legislators expressed appreciation to me for our spirited campaign and its lack of personal attacks. I viewed it as an indication that the 2013 local election was one that we could now put behind us and continue with “business as usual.”
A group of Concerned Citizens attended the November Legislature meeting to question the ongoing disconnect between our legislators and the people they still appear to feel they represent. When Adolf Genter rose to, once again, insist that selling the Orleans County Nursing Home was not in the interests of County residents, at least one legislator smiled and shook his head as if to suggest that Mr. Genter was sadly misinformed.
Countywide, the campaign we spent three times as much on as is normal in a county election resulted in convincing 46.3 percent of the voters to vote for an at-large candidate. Eight months of weekly Pennysaver ads, nine demonstrations of up to 65 people, attendance at Legislature and LDC Board meetings, and numerous letters to the editor failed to achieve our goal. That goal was to put four people on the Legislature who would vote to derail the sale and most likely make several other changes that would benefit Orleans County.
No doubt, some portion of the 53.7 percent who voted for our opponents countywide had been misinformed sufficiently to really think selling “The Villages of Orleans” was a good idea. Having spoken with several of them, I am convinced they honestly did. To say it was encouraging, as Legislator Johnson did, that people had “informed” themselves sufficiently to return four of five incumbents to office is flattery without foundation.
What really appears to have happened is that a majority got “played” in spite of a selfless effort by The Concerned Citizens of Orleans County to prevent the public from being conned. The year 2013 provided a perfect political “storm” for a legislature – which hadn’t done its “due diligence” – to pull off the “heist” of two centuries.
Frustration over events 42,000 people in Orleans County likely cannot control in Albany and Washington, to some extent, was reflected in voting locally. The sad part is that Orleans County voters can control what happens in Orleans County. A significant number of County voters appear to have prioritized registering their disapproval of Obamacare and the S.A.F.E. Act over their disapproval of selling “The Villages of Orleans.”
In case those two things didn’t provide a sufficient smokescreen locally, the three fliers full of lies voters received in the two weeks before the election certainly appear to have sealed the fate of one of Orleans County ’s greatest institutional assets. Though every one of us evaluates “information” based on its source, it went unnoticed by many that nowhere in the scary fliers was their source indicated.
At the end of the day, what are the 3,000 people who voted for Concerned Citizen endorsed candidates left to conclude?It appears to me that our legislators view this as a game.It is a game in which secrecy and deceit are used liberally to cover incompetence that costs taxpayers dearly.
The one “What, me, worry?” citizen who defended the Chairman’s grand experiment with the future of Orleans County is employed by Mr. Callard!That was a well-kept secret no one thoughtor knewto tell you before Nov. 5. Landfill interests have donated to the County Republican committee.That was just another oversight. In this game, if you spend enough money, tell enough lies, and have two great “smokescreen” issues, you can convince people to sell their souls and feel all right with it.
When all is said and done, you “win,” and that is all that really mattersto the people who continue to run Orleans County like a mushroom factory.
Gary F. Kent