With an uncontested village election on the horizon (election day is March 19), we can’t help but wonder about voter turnout. Will we be surprised or disappointed when the numbers are announced?
If recent events are any indication, it’ll probably be the latter.
It’s not a foregone conclusion that the nonpartisan slate will prevail. If turnout can always be counted on to be low, unannounced candidates could conceivably organize a write-in campaign, and win. That is why everyone should go to the polls on Tuesday and show support for the candidates, or if so inclined, express your opposition by writing in an alternative.
After two contested elections in 2017 and 2018, the Citizens Nonpartisan Party campaign committee this year initiated an outreach effort so voters could hear from the candidates, ask questions and discuss issues or concerns. A series of five meet and greets were planned in residents’ homes and a town hall style candidates’ forum was scheduled at the Scarsdale Woman’s Club.
But only a smattering of residents attended the first and second gatherings, and just a handful showed up for the Saturday afternoon forum. In the end, the campaign committee pooled the last three events into one, which became relatively well attended, and cancelled the others.
Perhaps the low turnout reflects contentment or merely that there is no choice to be made.
As one resident put it, people live in Scarsdale because it works. The schools are excellent, the village manager’s office is responsive, the trains run and business is humming.
Things are not broken here, so maybe folks don’t feel a need for change. But what if something does break? What about the next reval? What will happen with the lawsuit challenging the elimination of the SALT (taxes) deduction? What about the future of Freightway? People can air their views at public hearings and, if necessary, push their leaders to make changes.
As reported on Page One of this week’s Inquirer, numerous impassioned Scarsdale students — and several concerned residents — did just that. They came to the village trustees’ meeting March 12 to demand action be taken to ease the process for gaining approval of solar panel installations here. Their pleas did not go unheeded. The trustees listened, and then they voted, 6-1, to approve a proposition to revise the application process, moving it into the hands of the building department. Going forward, only a few complex cases would be referred to the Board of Architectural Review.
Scarsdale’s nonpartisan system needs voters to be engaged and involved. Residents need to pay attention to the issues, know who’s in office and who’s in charge of village operations. And, they need to show support for the unpaid volunteers who step up and give a large of amount of their time to serve the community as elected representatives.
This Tuesday, take time out of your busy schedule; go to the polls at Village Hall to stand up and be counted.