Editor, The Spotlight:
I disagree with almost all of the conclusions asserted by Mr. Kenneth Bell, Jr., in his May 22 letter titled “Vote Result Makes a Point,” except for the title and his opening statement. I am a registered Republican, but am as close to an independent voter as one can be. I am an acquaintance of several board members and have had professional contact over many years with Mr. Clarkson. They are intelligent, reasonable people with the best interests of the town at heart. To accuse them of selfish motives is malicious and, I suspect, politically motivated.
The fact voters did produce a resounding defeat to the proposal to eliminate the elected position of highway superintendent does not logically lead to any of the further conclusions and implications he assumes.
Our government is not a pure democracy: It is a representative democracy. The input of the public was invited and taken into consideration over several meetings and, in this case, the idea presented was subjected to the ultimate test – a referendum. The proposal was a well thought-out idea to consolidate overlapping duties and departments, with a streamlining effect which had great promise to modestly cut costs. Every candidate for the board, including Mr. Clarkson, promised prior to election to do innovative thinking to try to provide necessary and desirable services at a reduced cost to stop the never-ending spiral of increasing taxes in this era of decreased support from the state and federal level. All will agree that this is a worthy goal even though the specific proposal was rejected. Now they are being chastised for the effort?
The nearly hysterical rhetoric by Mr. Bell (and previously by Mr. Hahn) serves no useful purpose that I can detect. To label the board’s effort an attempt to “manipulate and dictate” the voters into accepting their individual ideas is absurd. In board meetings, The Spotlight, The Times Union and Our Town publications, the supervisor floated and explained the recommendation that an elected highway superintendent position be eliminated and the duties be combined into the Department of Public Works, with reduced costs. It didn’t fly. Does that mean it was a bad idea? Possibly. I don’t think so, and voted “Yes.” Regardless, as Mr. Clarkson stated, “the voters spoke,” and I was in the minority. Does that make me wrong? Possibly. Could the conspiracy here actually be in the camp that was so well organized against it. Possibly.
Anyway, it’s over. Let’s drop the “dictatorship” labels, please and get on to more money-saving ideas.
Joseph Hart, Delmar