The Republican View: Listening to the People

By Mike Sigler

 

The campaigns are over, for now. I’m happy to say that I won re-election to represent the Town of Lansing on the Tompkins County Legislature. It was a hard fight, lasting six months.

My opponent went to thousands of doors, and outspent me more than two-to-one; he ran a tough campaign and I thank him for it. I also went to thousands of doors, but the registration numbers are not in my favor, so what was the difference? I can draw a lot of conclusions, but the primary one is I believe voters approved of our message.

I remember Ted Kennedy being credited with the quote, 50 percent plus one is a mandate. If that’s true then I have a mandate to fight to keep the salt mine open, repower the power plant with natural gas and end the natural gas moratorium in Lansing. This election was a referendum on those issues for Lansing. It looked like solar was the defining issue in Dryden for both sides and it came down to which side voters felt would move the ball forward on solarization of the town.

It’s these types of clarifying elections, where there are two sides putting out their ideas to defend and promote that give our society a better idea of where their neighbors believe a community should be headed. We’re not always happy with that direction, but it can’t be ignored that that’s what a majority of folks believe.
This is why I hope those of you reading this will stand up and run for office. That office can be school board, village office, town office, or in four years the county legislature. You’d be amazed at how much your town or village planning board decides what your town or village will look like. Become involved in committees. The county has advisory committees with open seats.

I know you’re busy. I have a daughter on swim team, a fiancée with two daughters, a full-time job, the Legislature job and I’m a landlord. I get it. Time is short and valuable. But I can tell you, the long hours are worth it. To be a part of the community in an intimate fashion like being on the planning board, school board and yes, county Legislature, makes you part of that community. You’ll work for your neighbors, your friends. Sometimes they won’t agree with you, but to fight for your ideas, to incorporate others and to help your neighbors be heard will make your community better.

And this is where we are now. Yes, 50 plus one is a mandate and in my race, those three issues were the driving force for most voters. They decided I was the best advocate for those and the best person for Lansing’s future progress in the county. However, 46 percent of people didn’t think so. It’s now my challenge to discover what issues they were voting for or against. I won’t be able to win over those folks who didn’t agree with the big issues or those who would never vote for a Republican, but for those with issues where we can find common ground, I think there’s opportunity.

I see the power plant wanting to repower with natural gas, but also adding the largest solar farm in Upstate New York; I see a century-old salt mine, run in a way by Cargill – with oversight by the DEC – to provide a valuable product we need locally, while protecting the environment, as examples where common ground was found and continues to be.

The solar issues looked like an area where there could be this kind of compromise, and maybe there has been, to the point where a majority of voters believe the town is on the right path, unlike the experience with wind power in Enfield. I’ll continue to reach out to those voters who didn’t support me; discover what drove them to the polls and work on their issues just as I work on the issues most voters in Lansing agree on.

We can build consensus, but that takes involvement. I campaigned on the idea that I show up. This is as true today as it has been the past four years. This was a high turnout election with about 45 percent of Lansing voting, with one of the town board seats being decided by less than a handful of votes. It may seem that voices are lost in a sea of disagreement, but the only way that happens is if folks don’t vote and don’t tell their representatives what’s on their minds. We are listening.

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Tompkins County Legislator Mike Sigler, a Republican, represents the Town of Lansing.