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EDITORIAL: Villages hold elections


NEXT TUESDAY, MARCH 21, 2023, residents of the four villages in this county will elect the people who will govern their small communities. In New York State this is the closest we get to self governance. It should be a privilege and a duty of citizenship. The evidence suggests it’s not.

The combined population of the four villages in Columbia County works out to about 6,200 residents. That’s about 10 percent of the county’s total population. But glance at the results from next week’s village election, whether or not you live there, and it can show you the level of local civic engagement.

Some villages vote to dissolve and become a part of the nearest town. That decision promises economic benefits, including no village officials to pay. But the drawback of dissolution is that the dissolved village surrenders its identity. Faced with that option, voters elsewhere have turned out in force to keep their villages intact.

There are no dissolution proposals on the ballots of Columbia County and no one has made a fuss about the need for one here. There are also no contested races for mayor or for a seat on a village board … any village board.

It turns out that there are exactly as many candidates as there are seats for them to fill. In some other line of work that perfect headcount might sound like just what the public needs. But not in a democracy; it’s where debate and compromise can lead to better ways to serve the public. And there is always the possibility of write-in candidates.

That brings up another feature of village elections in the 21st century: there are no major party affiliations listed on the ballots. No Democrats, Republicans, Working Families or Conservatives. Candidates for village office can be enrolled in a major party, they just have to run for a village post on a “party” with a made-up name.

Don’t ask. It probably could be done better online, but we’re not there yet. So ignore the made-up names on the ballots and check out the people running for office.

So if you live in a Columbia County village and you’re eligible to vote, drop by the polling place Tuesday and cast your ballot. Don’t go because you expect big improvements. Go because you care about democracy, whatever the scale. Let them know you’re watching.
Election 2023

Village: Chatham

Mayor: John F. Howe

Village Board:

(vote for 2)

Peter Minahan

Brandon Gaylord

Voting site: Tracy Memorial Village Hall, 77 Main Street

When: Noon to 9 p.m.


Village: Kinderhook

Village Board:

(vote for 2)

James Mark Browne
Quinn Murphy

Voting site: Village Hall, 6 Chatham Street

When: Noon to 9 p.m.


Village: Philmont

Mayor: Brian T. Johnson

Village Board

(vote for 2)

Jason Detzel

Clarence “Skip” Speed

Voting site: Village Hall, 124 Main Street

When: Noon to 9 p.m.


Village: Valatie

Mayor: Frank Bevens

Village Board

(vote for 2)

Larry Eleby

Matthew Carter

Voting site: Martin H. Glynn Municipal Building, 3211 Church Street

When: Noon to 9 p.m.

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