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The right way, and the wrong way...
March 21, 2012 - John Stack
Congrats to Barb Rice and Paul Van Cott winning the village board of trustee seats. Upon reading the editorial page the last few days, two things became clear: Barb Rice would get the most votes, hands down (everyone likes Barb, she was a shoe-in), and Mark Gillis would come in last. What happened with Paul and Jeff I did not know (although in retrospect, it was going to happen). Why is this so? How did I know Gillis would lose so badly? Its because we live in the best village in America. In Saranac Lake, I don't think party affiliation is all that important. If Clyde Rabideau was a Republican, I think he'd still be mayor today. I didn't know Barb Rice a a Democrat until her name was put up by the Democrats. She would have won as a Republican.
This village is about belief in our village, loving our village and wanting the best for our village. That's why we have such a good village board. Although he lost, no one can deny Jeff Branch is fully invested in the livelihood of Saranac Lake. On the board now are three successful local businessmen – Clyde, Barb and Allie. People who walk the walk and talk the talk about Saranac Lake. Over the last couple years, one thing you really heard about the village board was how well they worked together. It wasn’t' about pushing a Democratic agenda or a Republican agenda, but a Saranac Lake agenda.
Why do I think Gillis lost? Because he's new to the area? Maybe a little, but I think that had a little different force than expected. I think the spitting match Mr Gillis got into with Mayor Rabideau sank his ship. Not only is Clyde a savvy businessman, and a savvy veteran politician, but he is very well liked by the community. No, not everyone likes Clyde. And probably no one agrees with everything he says and does. But, people know he is passionate about Saranac Lake, he does his homework, and he knows how to get things done. You don't pick a fight with a popular mayor 9 months into your life in Saranac Lake and expect to win. This is a town about good people, who want the best for our community, not to get into un-winnable political arguments. Even Allie's political letter for Branch and Gillis was mostly all positive. He pointed out accomplishments of the candidates, not the problems with the opposite contenders.
There are right ways to do things, and wrong ways. Back in the early 90's, I lived in Southern NY, Orange County. One of my best friends Matt was being sworn in as President of the local Town Republican Committee. His future wife and I were probably the only Democrats in the room. My early trepidation disappeared very quick at this installation dinner. I sat at a table with a buch of Republicans, and we all had a good time. They weren't there bashing the Democrats or calling names, they were talking about how they as a Party could make things better. It went well until a local candidate for Assembly got up to speak. He was one of those firebrand guys, leading the charge against the Democrats with torches and pitchforks. Although the first couple speakers were generous and congenial, he didn't get it. It was pretty awkward seeing him up there rant for a while, then as he realized he was NOT preaching to the masses, I think he realized he hadn't known his fellow GOP members. His talk went over like a fart in church.
I think this is the last time I really attended or saw a political party – Red or Blue – have a partisan meeting without any of the fuss or hubbub we see today. That is until the last few years here in Saranac Lake. I hope it stays that way, so we continue to hold that title of 'Best small town in America'!
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