Last week Debi Duke circulated a post about the upcoming Village election that ended with this message: “In some years [for Village elections], party doesn’t matter. This is NOT such a year.”
Debi’s message was a powerful and pointed reminder that issues of basic human rights roiling our nation are facing us right here in Rhinebeck, threatening to tear the fabric of our community—if we don’t step up and say something.
I want to reinforce and extend Debi’s message: the vote you cast in the Village election on March 21 will shape our collective ability to confront a wide range of challenges we can already identify. Basic elements of Village governance, from budgeting and taxing, to road maintenance and environmental controls are intimately connected to regional, state and national funding. If the Trump budget plan prevails—and some of it will get through this year—our Town and Village will be profoundly affected.
- New leadership at the EPA will move to open the Hudson Riverand local rail lines for oil transport—threatening our water supplies and placing us in harm’s way for large scale disasters.
- Climate change is here and intensifying, as higher tides in the Hudson are predicted to overwhelm our local water treatment facilities by 2020.
- Proposed cuts to Community Block Grants and domestic program funding will undermine or constrict regional, county and local services.
When budget cuts ripple through the levels of government, Village leaders will have to work with the Town Board to reduce duplication, find efficiencies and manage shared services. That is not happening today on the level that we need.
When the Coast Guard opens the Hudson River for oil barge anchorages, we will need grassroots resistance uniting individual citizens, regional NGOs, like Scenic Hudson, and key governmental units, like the State Attorney General. When this kind of coalition began to coalesce in 2016, as regional mayors were developing a common strategy for action, the Rhinebeck Mayor office failed to participate. We have to change that.
As Debi Duke suggested in her letter: there are times when party distinctions don’t mean much in a local election–but NOT this year. This year, the policy changes being debated in Congress will shape the budgets and programs of our County, our Town, our Village.
With that in mind I want to encourage you to vote for people who are realistically confronting and talking about the issues.
Vote for: Gary Bassett, Gina Fox and Ric Lewit.
Electing them is our best path to enhanced cooperation between our Village and Town. They can connect Rhinebeck to the emerging regional efforts to protect our River. They can give us the leadership we need to weather the storm of challenges now heading our way.