Are voters tired of nasty elections?
It is interesting to see how last year’s bitterly divisive presidential election informed this year’s local elections.
Overall, the biggest trend we noticed was politeness. There were exceptions, but for the most part, people managed to get through the campaign season without saying anything that might prompt grudges. That is refreshing after last year’s clash sunk American politics to new depths of rudeness
The town of Franklin, for instance, has had some bruising elections in the past, but this one was notably cordial, despite an array of candidates with diverse backgrounds and political leanings. Residents seem to be building their new community center in spirit before they lay the physical foundations.
In certain pockets of the Adirondacks, there were surges of fresh engagement with local politics. For instance, the town of Jay saw a flood of candidates running for office, calling for changes in town board priorities. The town of Harrietstown saw a wave of new faces and candidates at its Democratic caucus but a poorly attended Republican caucus. In Franklin, it was the Republican caucus that saw unusually large turnout (although the Democratic caucus turnout wasn’t bad, either).
It’s noteworthy that the new Harrietstown Democratic candidates did not campaign in an aggressive manner that sometimes comes with movement to resist a new, disliked president of the opposite party. These local candidates got their names and backgrounds out there, put up signs and got their friends and supporters to write letters to this newspaper on their behalf. There isn’t too much to criticize about how Harrietstown is being run right now, but that doesn’t always stop challengers from going on the attack. We’re glad these didn’t. We think voters rewarded them for it.
We suspect that North Country voters, at least, have had their fill of of nasty politics for a while.
We hope the many candidates already vying for next November’s congressional election take note. We’d like them to focus their efforts on promoting themselves and saying what they would do in the face of American and North Country issues. To demonize the incumbent — or the challengers — is the cheap and easy path. It’s harder to explain how one would do things better — but that’s what voters want.
It’s a long, long campaign, like the 2016 presidential race was. We suspect voters don’t want to go through that again, on a regional level. But that’s up to the candidates.