A lot has happened in Downtown Cobleskill over the past few months: façade rehabilitation, sidewalk improvements, a community plaza. However, in this Tuesday’s election town and village voters overwhelmingly rejected the candidates most closely associated with those achievements. In the village, Trustee Sandy MacKay lost badly to brutish developer Mark Nadeau. The even more brutish developer Mark Galasso was returned to the Board of Trustees with almost twice the votes of his own running mate.
In the town council race, Brian Kaiser, of Cobleskill Partnership, Inc., the group responsible for the façade improvement program this summer, didn’t even come close to winning a seat on Cobleskill’s town board. I won’t try to sugar coat this election by pointing out what appear to be democratic victories in the town supervisor races in Cobleskill and Richmondville. These victories should not distract Schoharie County progressives from the fact that something went terribly wrong in the election for village officials and the Cobleskill Town Board.
Both Brian Kaiser and Sandy MacKay have been tireless advocates of Downtown Cobleskill. Yet when voters were asked who should represent them, they selected a slate of candidates that in large part shares their vision for Cobleskill with trustee Bob LaPietra, a man who recently pled guilty to election fraud charges and was just sentenced (this week) to three years probation. So what the fuck happened?
To some extent at least, we can thank the Times Journal for this outcome. In the months leading up to the election, hardly a week went by without the T-J obsessively covering every belch, snort and scratch by Nadeau. Conspicuously absent from the T-J was any ribbon-cutting fanfare or even minimal coverage of the new Main Street sidewalks (overseen by MacKay) or even any serious consideration of MacKay’s idea on how becoming a city could net the village an additional two million dollars a year in sales tax revenue.
But the fact that Jim Poole consistently gets it wrong is old news, as is the fact that Mark Galasso has more than enough money to buy himself, Bob LaPietra and all his crooked friends as many elections as they could ever want. Voters still overwhelmingly chose the candidates with the self-serving big fish in a small pond mentality and thumbed their noses at the candidates with a real record of accomplishment in this community.
But it’s not about MacKay and Kaiser. Hopefully they will continue in their efforts to build a viable and dynamic Downtown Cobleskill. Unfortunately, they will probably be slapped down at every turn by this entering class of goons on the Village Board who will likely rubber stamp every nasty idea that Mark Galasso and Bob LaPietra pull out of their asses.
Voters may have endorsed the simple, straightforward and appealing message of Nadeau and his slate (expand the tax base and lower property taxes) but they arguably didn’t consider the record of these candidates, they didn’t consider the range of implications of the political coalition that now has a majority, and they didn’t consider the full breadth of the toll that unchecked big box development would have on our local economy and environment. Stay tuned to witness the consequences of an uninformed electorate.