The Democratic View: Beyond Election Day


By Kathy Zahler

It’s hard to write this column for the week of the election when I don’t yet know the results – but you, the reader, will know them if you pick up the paper anytime from Wednesday on! So I’ll just start by congratulating the towns that really saw some inspired action this election season.

On the Democratic side, from Groton to Lansing to my hometown of Dryden, we saw more door-to-door canvassing, more sign posting (and stealing, unfortunately), more meet-and-greets, more mailings, and more direct connection to the voting public than in years past.

In Dryden, we had numerous people not on the Democratic committee stepping up to support our slate by walking in their neighborhoods with door hangers, answering questions about the solar projects, labeling postcards, pounding in signs, and so on. It was a level of engagement above and beyond what we’re used to seeing, and I’m eager to see how it translated into attendance at the polls.

Another new thing that happened this election year was crossover assistance between towns. Dryden had help from Ithaca and Caroline, neither of which had contested races this year. Lansing had help from Dryden. People seemed eager to get involved, learn each other’s issues, and pitch in.

There were numerous opportunities for people to meet their candidates, even in uncontested races. Not only that, but people actually came out for those events, asked questions, and participated.

I like to think that all of this foretells a new interest in participatory democracy. Wouldn’t that be nice? It would be a joy to have multiple candidates for open positions, to continue to forge cross-municipal connections, and to see more and more citizens spend some time considering their options before Election Day 2018.

Now let’s talk about 2018. What a busy year it will be! All of our state executives, from Governor and Lieutenant Governor through Attorney General and Comptroller, will be up for election. In the Senate, Kirsten Gillibrand will run for re-election to a second full term. Every single Congressional seat in New York will be up for a vote, along with all 150 seats in the state Assembly and all 63 seats in the New York State Senate.

Here at home, we’ll be voting in 2018 for sheriff and clerk countywide and for town justice in Dryden, Groton, Lansing, and Newfield. This spring in the villages of Dryden, Groton, Lansing, and Trumansburg, there will be an election for trustee positions, and Cayuga Heights will vote for mayor as well.

So there are dozens of places to plant your flag and get involved in election season 2018. To start you off, the League of Women Voters is moderating a Congressional candidate forum for the Democratic candidates hoping to run in a 2018 primary in the 23rd District. That forum will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, November 16, at The Space at Greenstar, 700 W. Buffalo St. in Ithaca. Although it’s a good-sized venue, interest is high, so plan to get there early.

Congratulations to winners AND also-rans on Election Day 2017 – just the fact that you stepped up to represent your fellow citizens is important and impressive. Please stay involved; we will need your participation more than ever as we move into the critical year ahead. Check the website ( to connect to your town or ward committee, and like us on Facebook ( to learn about local actions and events.

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Kathy Zahler is director of communications for the Tompkins County Democratic Committee.


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