While our new governor, Andrew Cuomo, was giving his first State of the State speech Wednesday, he suddenly reminded us of another politician we know.
No, it wasn't his father, former governor Mario Cuomo, although there are obvious similarities, especially in how easily and charismatically they address the public.
What struck us was the echoes between Gov. Cuomo and Saranac Lake's mayor of the last nine months, Clyde Rabideau.
Partly it was that the Enterprise was in the middle of publishing Mr. Rabideau's "State of the Village Report" as a series of three Guest Commentaries. But it wasn't just that the elected executives were doing the same kind of thing; it was how - and why.
Both Mayor Rabideau and Gov. Cuomo described the state of things accurately and frankly, with refreshingly little lofty rhetoric. Both laid out organized, detailed plans for dealing with problems, plans that sounded doable rather than dreamy. In the governor's case, we say "doable" with reservations: first because New York is in a much deeper hole than Saranac Lake, and it's harder to believe it can be rescued anytime soon; and second because Gov. Cuomo hasn't given us all his plans yet. More will follow when he rolls out his budget proposal. We're curious to see how he would fulfill his promise of closing a $10 billion deficit without raising taxes or borrowing.
Otherwise, though, both Mayor Rabideau and Gov. Cuomo seem realistic. In place of idealism, they bring energy, hard work and deep backgrounds in government affairs. It all boils down to commitment; they put a lot of specific goals on the line to live up to.
They also bring the strength of their personalities, which have some things in common. Both men are natural leaders. They seem to hurl themselves into the work of governing and flat-out love it. They seem to adore getting their hands into the workings of a village or state or city and getting it to run right - to borrow a mechanical metaphor from Gov. Cuomo's hobby as a muscle-car grease monkey. And he made it clear in his speech Wednesday that if the state gets back to running fairly smoothly on his watch, he wants to see how fast this baby can go - to leave other states enviously eating New York's dust.
The same could be said of Mayor Rabideau's big plans to make Saranac Lake the "Capital of the Adirondacks" with a "Walk of Fame" and a Mayor's Cup Regatta. But nevertheless, his State of the Village Report was more about replacing sidewalks and retaining a major bio-research employer than those high-flying ideas.
These are not the kind of politicians who want to preside over a state; they want to run it. And they have special talents that fit that vocation.
That doesn't mean they can't blow it the way Gov. Eliot Spitzer did, or hit political gridlock and see their lovely plans go nowhere. Ability aside, people won't follow a leader if they don't agree with him on the issues, more or less. But a good leader and a reasonable public can do much good for society. Maybe New York and Saranac Lake are ready, and maybe these leaders are level-headed enough to keep up the good work for several years. We'll see.