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Letter: No more back room deals

Editor, The Spotlight:

Supervisor John Clarkson and the other Town Board members are now evaluating potential candidates to fill the vacancy created by Councilman Mark Jordan being elected as Town Justice. New York State law permits the Town Board to appoint a qualified individual to fill the vacancy for a period of one year. This fall, a special election must be held to give our citizens the opportunity to select their representative to serve the balance of the two year term.

When I ran for town board two years ago as Sam Messina’s running mate, I gained a greater appreciation of the challenges facing our town. Dwindling cash reserves, projected increases in spending, and a deteriorating infrastructure have created a serious economic condition. We live in a wonderful community and are fortunate to have so many talented citizens who have a wealth of public and private sector experience. We should use this talent to our advantage and prepare for the future.

All interested candidates for the Town Board seat should be considered and evaluated on their ability and knowledge to contribute to solving our community’s problems. Rather than an open and fair process, Supervisor John Clarkson has made up his own rules. This is peculiar since the very reason that he ran for office was that the electorate did not have a choice due to a “back room deal”.

Supervisor Clarkson mandated that all candidates pledge not to seek re-election this fall. Let’s be clear about his reasoning. This was an adroit maneuver to raise the public’s ire against Jack Cunningham being placed on the board through a political move. Cunningham could have then run for re-election in the fall and challenge Clarkson for Supervisor in 2013. Last week, however, Jack Cunningham dropped out of the race.

Now it is time for Mr. Clarkson to remove his arbitrary and capricious rule, which is unfair to candidates and the town, and has no basis or standing in law. This is not a criticism of the qualified candidates who have come forward, but rather the process being used to fill the vacancy. Allowing Mr. Clarkson to handpick the candidate, smacks of the same back room deal that was opposed by the Spotlight in an editorial last summer. It so infuriated voters and it, in fact, prompted Mr. Clarkson to run for Supervisor.

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