Millerton’s election process was a great start for new board
The Millerton News Editorial
We all know that historically speaking, municipal elections don’t tend to draw huge voter turnouts — especially when they’re during the summer versus the prime fall election season. That’s understandable, as the second Tuesday in November brings with it months upon months — if not years — of anticipation that culminates with an Election Day jam-packed with politicians standing on stages covered from end to end with streamers and balloons as they’re interviewed by every news anchor and TV reporter known to man. The nightly news and internet stream constant updates on the latest poll numbers and election results, keeping the public informed of how voters leaned in the most hotly-contested races.
Depending on the year, some of the highest offices in the land may be at stake, or perhaps some of the most important positions in Congress or in the state or maybe in one’s county of residence. Whatever the case may be, November’s General Election is when the politically savvy really get their engines revving.
June, not so much. So when the Millerton Village Board voted to move its election cycle from March (also not a very popular time to head to the ballot box) to June about a year ago, chances remained high that voter turnout would remain low.
According to the Dutchess County Board of Elections, there are 515 registered voters in the village of Millerton, which has a population of 925 people according to the 2000 Census, which remains the last one on record (the results of the 2020 count have not yet been released).
Yet there was what was considered a pretty good turnout for this year’s Village Election, held on Tuesday, June 15, at the Village Offices on North Elm Avenue (Route 22), with 127 votes cast for Jennifer Najdek for mayor, even though the NOP candidate was running unopposed, and 102 votes cast for political newcomer and recent village transplant, Democrat Laurie Kerr, who was cross-endorsed by the local Republican Committee.
The election surprise was that former Village Trustee and former longtime North East town Supervisor Dave Sherman, a Republican, came in neck-in-neck with the recently reappointed village Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) Chairwoman and constant Village Board meeting attendee DeLora Brooks, a Democrat. The two trustee candidates tied, each garnering 83 votes at the Village Election, so a special Runoff Election was called for Tuesday, July 6.
The runoff also drew a good number of voters, according to those overseeing the special election. By night’s end, Sherman was the victor, earning 85 votes to Brooks’ 82. It was a tight, well-fought race and we are pleased that the villagers who voted took an interest in who will govern Millerton for the next two years moving forward. The policies set by the new Village Board will impact the community long beyond its members’ two-year terms.
That means about 167 of those registered to vote in the village actually showed up to cast their ballots in the July runoff, or about a third of all voters. Those who run the Village Offices said they considered it “a great election season.” We agree that’s a pretty healthy turnout.
What that says about how many people actually participate in the American electoral process, we’re not quite sure. Would we like it to improve? Certainly, there’s always room for improvement — but at least folks are getting involved.
Perhaps it’s also a sign that the community is satisfied with how the village has been run in the past number of years, and a vote of confidence that when former Mayor Debbie Middlebrook passed the torch to her then-Deputy Mayor Jenn Najdek to take over, she was confident the transition would be a smooth one.
We are among those who have faith that Najdek and her team of trustees have the wealth of knowledge and expertise, paired with the good intentions, fair minds and open ears necessary to man the Village Board and govern Millerton for the next couple of years.
We certainly wish them the best of luck moving forward, and if their reorg meeting held just last week was any indication, it seems like the board will operate efficiently, cooperatively and openly. For more on that meeting, turn to Page A2.