I've been arguing with people for weeks on the merit of write-in candidacies, while they constantly dismissed the possibility of a write-in victory, instead choosing to sidle up to candidates who are on the ballot, insisting that they WILL be our new trustees. That's how our system works. It's democracy.
For those of us that support the elimination of unnecessarily restrictive and convoluted election laws, student participation and an open electoral process, this is a victory.
For those of us who want improvements for our community, progress and restructuring, and checks and balances for a terminally ill government, this is devastating.
Many of us fall into both categories and that might help explain why it all makes me so nauseous.
I have long been an advocate for student participation in local politics. I have also been a strong advocate for write-in campaigns, as I believe the arbitrary rules governing ballot access and the petitioning process are pointless and unnecessary. Being able to jump through a few hoops doesn't qualify someone to hold office; being unfamiliar with the silly process shouldn't disqualify someone from being a valid candidate. There are, however, many situations where the write-in candidate is not only incapable of jumping through those silly hoops but is also a horrendous candidate. This is the case with Brian Kimbiz.
We all remember the Julia Walsh fiasco and many of us cringe when thinking back to the horribly misguided decision we made in the voting booth on May 6, 2003. Did our community survive? Absolutely. Was it a painful, miserable and frustrating experience? Extremely so. Is it something I believe we can weather again, especially considering the existing board makeup? I am doubtful. Could it be worse? It pains me to say it, but yes. And it gets worse right now.
On the Brian Kimbiz for Village Board Facebook group, Brian proudly proclaimed,
"THE NEW PALTZ VILLAGE BOARD ELECTIONS IS MAY 5TH."
(is May 5th??)
"THE BOARD IS COMPOSED OF 6 MEMBERS, THE MAYOR, DEPUTY MAYOR, AND FOUR TRUSTEES."
(6 members?? Really??)
Wait, there's plenty more...
"DESPITE THE FACT THE STUDENT POPULATION IS ABOUT 6,000, EQUAL TO OR GREATER THAN THE NUMBER OF VILLAGE RESIDENTS, WE HAVE NO REPRESENTATION ON A BOARD THAT HANDLES EVERY DECISION IN THE VILLAGE, THE VILLAGE WE ALL LIVE IN."
(VONP Population in 2000 census: 6,034. SUNY New Paltz student population in 2007: ~2,000. Sigh.)
"CURRENTLY THE MAYOR AND THE BOARD ARE WORKING TO MAKE RENTING HOUSES OFF CAMPUS IMPOSSIBLE FOR STUDENTS BY PASSING LEGISLATION THAT WOULD LIMIT THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE THAT CAN LIVE IN ONE HOME."
(Um... wow, I have NO idea where that came from but... huh???)
So I guess we can all agree that Trustee Kimbiz certainly needs to be schooled in New Paltz 101 (grammar and proper use of caps lock may also be added to his courseload). But, to be fair, perhaps we should also consider where he stands on the issues.
From his New Paltz Green Party Questionnaire, on his priorities:
"I also feel like new development of homes and commerce is very important in and around the Village of New Paltz. The decisions that are made now have long term effects down the road. This means that any new additions to this town should go through the highest scrutiny before any decisions are made. I believe one of the greatest things about New Paltz is the size and membership of its citizens. Also housing situations concerning tenants, landlords, students, and most importantly home-owners need to be carefully considered. Housing conditions, zoning laws, taxes, health issues, among many other things needs mediated in order to create the best community for all of its members."
Wha...? Also, I tend to be a bit of a bitch when it comes to the interchangeable use of Town/Village. When I'm talking with a friend, it's just obnoxious and picky. When it comes to a Village Trustee, I think my annoyance is justified. (Throughout his in-person interview, Brian continued to talk about his vision for the Town Board and his commitment to serving on the body, so as to improve "stuff" in the Town of New Paltz. Members on the interview committee were actually becoming confused as to which office he was seeking.)
When it came to questions about specific issues, Trustee Kimbiz rarely had an answer. At one point, a member of the interview committee questioned his decision to run for an office that he clearly knows little about. Trustee Kimbiz' response was that he would like to get elected first, then learn about the issues and develop positions and opinions later. He saw no reason to understand the intricacies of concerns facing our community until after he was actually elected. He has, however, "watched Town Board meetings on TV a coupla times."
Some highlights on those local issues:
What is your position on Town and Village Unification?
At this moment I do not have a position on the unification of the Village and Town. I will have to better hear both sides of the issue.
What steps will you take to improve current tenant/landlord relationships as well as the current housing situation in general?I think I can be a great lesion between tenants/landlords. Being that I am a tenant I feel safe housing conditions are very important.
What will you do to ameliorate current traffic problems?
I am not sure but I believe either making more roads, or increasing flow on certain roads are both bad ideas.
Could you describe your fiscal philosophy?
I believe government should provide services that the community desires at the best price possible, however I also think high taxes are bad, so money must be effectively directed to the things that serve the community best.
What will you do to improve the relationships between SUNY and municipal governments?
I am again a perfect liaison between the two. I would be coming from the SUNY (working as Senate Vice-Chair) to the other.
What concrete steps do you plan to take to increase transparency in your office and make it easier for the public to participate in the governing process?
I want to use the Internet as a huge resource in staying connected to me. I think this can be so beneficial as it makes access to me almost instant. My email goes straight to my phone. Aside from that I plan to have a web forum where the public can see my day-to-day work for them and even respond. I think my tech savvy can have a large influence on getting very close to me.
You can't make this stuff up, people. And, honestly, I don't know why anyone would want to. You can read Trustee Kimbiz' full questionnaire at the New Paltz Greens website.
As for the future, we can expect that the Dungan/Gallucci reign will continue with rather catastrophic consequences. We can expect that without Trustees Zierler and Healey, the maniacal schemes of these individuals will magnify unchecked. We can expect that Village employees will continue their work, except this time without allies or security. We can expect that there will be no progress, no open communication and no innovation.
And, if my assessment is correct, we can expect that Julia Walsh can finally pass the "Worst VONP Trustee" legacy onto Trustee Kimbiz. Congratulations, New Paltz. We get the government that we deserve.