By Ed LaVigne
It used to be that election season was called the “silly season.” This is where every difference between candidates, not only politically, but personally was magnified. Afterward, the winners got back to the business of serving EVERYONE in their districts. The elected officials listened to everyone and made an attempt to address their concerns.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem the case anymore. It appears every day now is the “silly season.” Every difference has to be magnified. Political parties are on a 24/7 recruitment drive. If you dare to disagree or challenge a decision, opinion or belief you are in the crosshairs. We as a community have an opportunity to change the direction produced by the “silly season.” We have an obligation as elected officials to attempt to represent everyone.
The election process is nothing more than a very long job interview. I have never told people who were interviewing me to hire me because the other applicants suck. If that word offends you, good. It is that same offensive dialogue that is constantly spoken repeatedly from all parties. ENOUGH!
If you are running for office please share your concerns. More importantly, share your SPECIFIC solutions to address those concerns. If your platform is to create jobs, how? If your platform is to cut taxes, how? If your platform is to address the mental health crisis, how? Illegal drug use? Immigration in our community? Infrastructure? Environmental protection? You get the point.
When I was hired to be Lansing’s town supervisor, there were many issues that made up my platform. Some of them were cost-effective governing, accessibility, inclusiveness and productivity.
n Cost-effective governing: People told me you cannot run government like a business. My response was you have a duty to respect the efforts hard working people make to be financially self-reliant. Taking their money in the form of taxes is the LAST resort. When people tell me that raising taxes is ONLY a few dollars more each year, my response is you should tell people you are SORRY. Sorry that more of their money has to be taken from them. Are you willing to think differently than the usual way of conducting governmental business?
In the current Lansing administration, every contract had been reviewed to look for cost savings. Some contracts were renegotiated, while others were paid in full at the start of the year at a discounted amount. Results were savings to the hard working taxpayers.
Two other examples: We implemented a retirement incentive. That concept was researched and implemented at the town level. Two employees accepted the retirement package. Their responsibilities are being absorbed and saving the hard working taxpayers $166,000 per year. We also instituted shared services. Two of our employees from the recreation department have obtained their class D licenses. This means they will be working on snow removal in the winter and park maintenance in the warmer months. This allows us the option of absorbing one position from the highway department. The results is more value for the same wage expense to our hard working taxpayers.
— Accessibility: What other local government official has an ongoing Facebook account dedicated to daily conversations and interaction? “Hey Lansing, What is on your mind?” This is an ongoing open town hall meeting that you can attend from the comfort of your recliner. It has turned out to be extremely useful to interact and inform the people of Lansing.
— Inclusiveness: When our local Drop-In Center had to turn away children because there was not enough room, this town supervisor met with the department head, the program director, a town board member who was one of the founders of the program, and resolved the matter. Another assistant was needed and for less than $5,000 per year the concern was removed. When you spend beneath your means you have the ability to resolve financial concerns quickly.
— Productivity: The residents of Myers Road were concerned with speeding, road safety and lack of shoulders on their road. Lansing’s town highway superintendent and town supervisor met with the concerned residents and developed an action plan. Storm drains were installed and shoulders created. Speed indicators were placed strategically and the sheriff’s department became more involved. This was all accomplished within two months this year.
We are diverse. Personally as Americans we share a common bond, but I hope we never lose the awareness of our diversity. One of my friends who belongs to the Democratic Party shared his wisdom with this Republican town supervisor some time ago. He said, and I apologize if the words are not verbatim, “democracy is like a bicycle, the wheels always have to be turning if you want to get anywhere.” I use that wisdom as a compass at my town board meetings.
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Ed LaVigne is the Lansing town supervisor.