This is the first time I have decided to use our website to post an editorial. The issues and communications surrounding the current election have both dismayed and puzzled me.
Essex has the potential of becoming a thriving community but with the exception of our farms and farmers there is no growth. Years ago the hamlets of Essex and Whallonsburgh were thriving with the types of businesses that support the people who lived in the township and surrounding areas. People were friendly, welcoming and cared for each other in times in need.
Today we have only business directed at encouraging tourists and our energetic farmers but we offer little or nothing to those who would like to make Essex their home. We categorize residents as natives, locals and newcomers as though belonging to a group, other than the one we are labeled, as distasteful. People fear that if they publicly state their ideas and support of a position or people they will be shunned, lose business, or worse.
We have an amazing cross section of talent here: those who have lived here all their lives, the new and enthusiastic farm community, and those who have retired here after a career in the arts, managing or developing large business, etc… It follows that these will have differing opinions based on their life experiences and exposure to other cultures. Our population includes those with an average income, the wealthy and those mired in deep poverty. Until we are able to treat each other with equality, honesty, empathy and understanding Essex will never heal.
As for the emails and letters to the editors it appears they have been written by residents who have rarely or never attended the Town Board and/or Project Committee Meetings in the past several years. There are only three or four of us who attend regularly and are able to comment on leadership style during these meetings. Since there were no publicly posted meeting minutes for the past 18 months it is unclear how information has been received; word of mouth is not usually a reliable source.
We have lost one and will soon lose a second of the most involved and informed Town Councilmen. Sad, and I wonder why. I do know that members of the Town Board have been excluded from meeting notifications, but do not know if this is the reason for our loss.
Much finger pointing is made at the Sewer Project being overbuilt and underfunded. Yes, it was overbuilt, but the number of users was submitted long before 2010 and not by Sharon Boisen. Billing did not begin when it should have but that was the choice of the Town Board of which the Supervisor is only one vote. A shortage to the General Fund (about $300 K) at the beginning of 2010 was due to transfers from the General Fund to the Sewer Project, approved by the Town Board, that existed prior to Sharon Boisen’s election.
Next is the Water Project – without Susan Kennedy (NYS Department of Health) we would have lost the funding for the project and we would still be at the same point we were at the end of 2013. Her insistence that drilling occur at two potential locations immediately spurred the action just taken and if we do find affordable and usable water the credit is hers.
We need local officials who are willing and able to incorporate new ideas and strategies into the workings of our Town. We must not be content to pretend Essex exists in the early 1900s. Times have changed, laws have changed and we must change to survive.
No matter who your choice, it is important that each of us take time to vote. Once the final results are in it will be time to put the past behind us, work together for the benefit of all, and to let the healing begin.
Olive Alexander[Originally appeared on essexnewyork.org]