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A bridge to productivity

March 31, 2010
Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Mountains of appreciation go to mayor-elect Clyde Rabideau for asking his recent opponent, Jeff Branch, to be his deputy mayor, and to Mr. Branch for accepting. Mr. Rabideau is a Democrat, and Mr. Branch is a Republican. Thank goodness for a bridge across that unnecessarily wide partisan divide.

It's more than a symbolic move, too. Mr. Branch will fill in as mayor at every meeting Mr. Rabideau cannot attend, and that could affect policy and productivity. It may not be a huge step, but it's a real one.

It's worth keeping in mind that this move shows smart strategy as well as good will. Mr. Rabideau's Democrats will be in the minority on the new village board and will have to work with the Republicans to get anything done. Why not do it in a way people like?

Mr. Branch's Republican majority could have won most decisions if he had refused Mr. Rabideau's offer, so his acceptance speaks especially well. But it's a smart move for him, too. It's hard to show leadership when you lost the mayor's race, but by working together, both parties can add to their lists of accomplishments. Otherwise, neither might have much to brag about next election.

Hopefully they'll co-operate more peacefully than Mr. Branch and Trustee Christy Fontana did at last night's brief meeting, when the former abruptly cut off the latter's attempt to have the board consider a late addition to the agenda, and the latter accused him of being "an arrogant son of a gun" on her way out the door.

Both parties actually have most of their goals in common, since most of what Saranac Lake needs comes down to practicality rather than ideology. This deputy mayor appointment bodes well for the village's future, and we hope personality conflicts don't get in the way.

Respectful policy debate can be constructive; it helps a community exhaust options at each fork in the road before moving forward down one path or the other. We hope, however, that these board members don't let short-term disagreements block long-term goals.

The comments people post on our Web site are often an example of unhealthy debate, but online readers were unusually positive on this story Tuesday, an indication that it is a development people have been eagerly waiting for. When these most brutal of critics praise you, it's a good sign you're on the right track.



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