Diving Into Politics Is Like …



I am thinking this week of all the people who are willing to seek and serve in a public post, from the School Board to town and village boards to the county Legislature. I don’t think we appreciate these folks enough.

I have thought this for a while, it’s not a new belief. But I think my views have intensified this year, a year with so many difficulties.

Note, I do in fact mean we should appreciate the candidates of both parties. Of varied views. At all levels, beginning with perhaps the most local of all, our schools. Look at the challenges our school boards faced in the past year alone: The normal issues of finances, and staying within the tax cap. Whether voters would support the budget and capital projects school leaders envisioned, and some voters didn’t. And then, bam, the pandemic slammed in, with its attendant tremendous responsibility, and the possibility that staff members or students would become ill, perhaps gravely so. That people still want to run for our school boards is something of a small miracle. What an assignment, in pandemic time.

Then our town and village boards. Some are non-partisan, but we know that’s only partly true. In any case, this year, from Cold Spring to Carmel and Kent, big changes are afoot. We will see extensive turnover on at least some boards after the November vote. Voters have clear choices, as charges and counter charges fly. Perhaps the best example is the Town of Carmel, where there is a Republican primary that is something akin to a political gunfight. My goodness. And this is only the primary, my friends.

I am imploring you, vote in these elections. The primary is June 22. Attend the listening sessions or forums the candidates or others have. Several of our communities face big decisions, ones that will determine their futures — our futures. Don’t stand by and whine later about the decisions made. These leaders — most of them responsible, thoughtful people — are willing to be out there, to put up with a lot of grief. It’s not too much to ask that we do our part in choosing them.

Until next week.

This column is my opinion. You are free to disagree.

I’m Douglas Cunningham, and I’m the editor of the Putnam County Courier and the Putnam County News and Recorder, in Cold Spring. Reach me at 845- 265-2468 (usually in the office at least part of Saturday and Sunday) or by email at

Letters are always welcome: 500 words or less, Word document or plain text, local topics, and local writers preferred. Please include the word Letter in the subject line. Send to NOTE: There is only 1 week left for political letters ahead of the primary. If you have a letter about the primary, send to me by the end of the day Friday.

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