Political Signs & Fall Foliage



We are deep into the political season locally. There are perhaps more campaign signs than fall foliage colors right now, in fact. I again say, we should show appreciation to all candidates for running, for taking this on, for subjecting themselves and their families to scrutiny, sometimes unpleasant scrutiny. All for jobs that, truth be told, aren’t going to make anyone wealthy.

Anyway, I am grateful for this exchange of ideas, for candidates making their case at festivals and fairs and even going door to door. Assemblywoman Sandy Galef and I used to talk over lunch at a picnic table at the Putnam County Fair kickoff, and I missed that the past two years. It wasn’t organized or anything, it just happened in most years that we both wanted lunch about the same time, and Cornell and the 4-H kids are a good cause. Plus, a good hot dog. Maybe next year.

My sense is that some races will be closer than we expect. I think that may be the case with the Sheriff’s race. Also, I think we will begin to see in these Putnam County results whether a long-expected demographic realignment will challenge the domination of the Republican Party in local politics throughout Putnam, in most locales save for Philipstown. I don’t think we are there yet, but some challengers are running surprisingly strong campaigns.

And at the end of the day, vote. Time and again, we have seen the importance of every single person voting. Thank God we are not voting in the teeth of a pandemic, as we did in 2020. If nurses, doctors and other hospital workers, and a host of unheralded but still vital front-line workers, can go to work amidst this pandemic for 18 months now, we can go vote. Early vote, absentee vote or vote Election Day. Just vote. ~

What I’m listening to: I’ve become a big fan lately of the Axios Today podcast. It’s direct, it has some depth, it tackles some unexpected things. I commend it for your drive into the office (if you go to the office, and many of us don’t anymore).

Fresh Air is consistently good. The Sept. 29 episode with “Me Too” founder Tarana Burke is worth a listen.

Sway, with Kara Swisher of the New York Times. She’s blunt, opinated and a good interviewer. Questions that twist the prism a bit. Her Oct. 4 episode with Monica Lewinsky was very good, as was the Oct. 7 one with Matthew McConaughey. Years ago, Swisher was one of the first tech journalists to cover the industry in a real-person kind of way, then at The Wall Street Journal with colleague Walt Mossberg. Groundbreaking stuff then, and the podcast still is.

What we’re watching: The Inbetweeners, the British comingof-age story about teenaged boys, and the many disasters that befall them. It is bawdy, funny and sometimes achingly poignant. Anyway, we’ve devoured it.

Ted Lasso, on Apple+. I realize that many of you have resisted subscribing to another service, or that you won’t deign to watch a happy, feel-good show. Get over it and watch it. This second season, BTW, is edgier by a good bit, especially the conclusion.

Letters: Write a letter if you disagree with me. This column is my opinion. I know that many of you do disagree with me. Strikingly, some of you think I’m a flaming liberal and some think I’m a retrograde conservative. Pretty good, right? Hard to be both, especially simultaneously. The power of today’s newspaper magnates, I suppose.

If you plan to write a letter about politics, time is fleeting. We MUST have all letters by the Friday before the issue. Which makes the 22nd the absolute last day to send me an election letter. We work over the weekend; Monday is too late. The presses roll at noon Monday, and wait for no one.

A story: As an intern in Coffeyville, Kansas, I came to have a greater appreciation for deadline. I wrote stories, took photos, tried to soak up everything I could. It was a small town on the Oklahoma border, an oil town. This was in the days when we still had afternoon papers, whose staffs actually gathered news in the AM and you could read the latest in your recliner or at the kitchen table when you got home from work. With an adult beverage, surely. Something had happened involving one of my stories; my editor and I were behind on the desired deadline. First, there was a call from pressroom.

Then, shortly, the press foreman came upstairs. He had a pipe wrench in his hand that was probably a good 18” long. A very serious wrench. And he stood by the desk and tapped this wrench into his palm until we finished. At last he went back downstairs. The presses rolled not long after. Until next week.

I’m Douglas Cunningham, and I’m editor of the Putnam County Courier and the Putnam County News and Recorder. Reach me at 845.265.2468, or by email at

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