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Amenia forum offers chance to Meet the Candidates

The Millerton News Editorial

The Millerton News is so pleased to be sponsoring a Meet the Candidates forum, which the impartial New York State League of Women Voters (LWV) will be moderating, on Wednesday, Oct. 6, at 7 p.m. at Webutuck High School.

The LWV, for those who aren’t familiar with the group, is “a nonpartisan political organization, [which] encourages informed and active participation in government [and] works to increase understanding of major public policy issues,” according to its website, www.lwvny.org.

The Oct. 6 event will afford voters in the town of Amenia  the opportunity to hear first-hand what those running for office have to say about why they want to serve their community. 

Considering how hotly contested the races for the two open Town Board seats are, with six different candidates running from four different political parties for those coveted four-year term seats, not to mention the two candidates vying for the two-year term, town supervisor position — this year’s election in the town of Amenia guarantees to be an exciting one. 

It also has the potential to change the balance of power on the Town Board and alter the course of history for who knows how many years.

What that history will ultimately entail promises to impact many things: town-wide property values and/or perhaps at least a renegotiation of property values at the Silo Ridge Field Club; lawsuits and/or legal challenges filed against the town, its assessor, some of its employees and some of its departments by the Silo Ridge Field Club, employees and/or principals and/or residents of Silo Ridge Field Club; future residential and commercial development in the town of Amenia; recreation and senior programs; protection of the Assessor’s Office and of all property owners paying Fair Market Value; development of affordable housing; creation of a wastewater system; economic development in town; the opting in or out of commercial cannabis establishments; and so much more.

What we are especially excited about is that we’re working with the LWV, which has a long history — a 101-year history to be exact — of moderating debates and political forums to get people involved in the electoral process, ever since the suffrage movement began.

As recent president of the New York State LWV Dare Thompson explained, it all started back with Susan B. Anthony, the “mother” of the women’s rights movement who fought for suffrage in the mid-1800s. The New York League started working to educate voters more than a century ago, focusing on the presidential debates; other Leagues go back even further than that. 

Thompson said in the world of televised presidential debates, there is no way the LWV would be able to compete with the moderators who manage today’s political spectacles.

“I hear people say, ‘I wish the Leagues would do it,’ but it would be very hard to do it fairly with the parties having as much control of the process… and we would be much more boring,” she said honestly. “There’s no question: We wouldn’t be able to do something that would make for good TV for people, I kind of suspect.”

In fact, the event like the one being held at Webutuck High School on Oct. 6 will not technically be a “debate,” said Thompson, but rather it will be a “forum.” 

A forum is defined as “a place, meeting or medium where ideas and views on a particular issue can be exchanged.” A debate is defined as “a formal discussion on a particular topic in a public meeting or legislative assembly, in which opposing arguments are put forward,” according to the Oxford Dictionary.

That means the candidates won’t be arguing the issues among each another, but rather they will be introducing themselves and their platforms and then making closing statements. Audience members will be able to submit questions, which Thompson will ask during the forum as time permits. She said she is aware of the pressing concerns of future development in the town, and will try to include that issue among the evening’s questions. 

Her main objective, as always with the LWV, is to be transparent and fair, and to keep to the very strict timetable for all of the candidates. In fact, Thompson described the League’s forums as “unpleasantly controlled,” adding that “we’re almost boring in our effort to be fair.”

What more could a voter ask for when checking out potential candidates running for a Town Board on a weekday evening in a high school auditorium? Seriously, though, we do hope Amenia residents attend — we promise it will be informative and worth your while.

Be aware that all COVID-19 safety regulations will be strictly followed. For details, read this week’s front page.

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