A new era in village politics begins

14 Apr

The newly constituted Village Board: (l-r) Trustees Al Balcaen and Jerry Ippolito Jr.; Mayor John Cahill; Trustees Darrell Byerts and Jude Lancy

I was in the audience with more than 30 others on Thursday night for the first Village Board meeting presided over by newly elected mayor John Cahill.  I think I was not the only one who wanted to see how well things — and the new board members — settled in after a rather acrimonious campaign and election.

And I’m pleased to say they seem to be settling in rather well.

Mayor Cahill opened the meeting with a very nice thank you to village staff members who have make the transition a smooth one, and to the village residents who put him in office.  He also reassured those residents that the new board would immediately address the water issue. “It is a pledge I will work to make a reality,” he said, with the warning that it would be “major, long-term effort.”

This first meeting of the village political calendar is always the annual operational meeting, filled with a litany of procedural housekeeping items necessary to keep the village running. But a few small, yet very important, issues kept the meeting hopping.

The first was the resolution authorizing the mayor and a village trustee to begin negotiations with Monroe County Water Authority. Mayor Cahill asked for a “rising” vote rather than the standard voice vote, and to their credit, every single board member stood to indicate their “yes” vote for the resolution.   No matter what personal position each board member has on this issue, it’s clear what village residents want, and voting to work with the MCWA was the right thing to do.

The second was a resolution to reinstate the Village Board salaries to their previous level. This was necessitated by a vote taken by the previous Village Board at their last meeting of the year to reduce the salaries of the mayor and village trustees. Their rationale was that since 25% of the board members’ salaries is for their service as commissioners of the village water department, and since the current board has pledged to eliminate the water department, that portion of the salary should also be eliminated.

Former mayor Peter Elder was in the audience and took to the podium to defend the board’s decision, to no avail. Current Board members quickly approved the resolution, reversing what most consider a petty move.

Personally, I was pleased to hear in Mayor Cahill’s opening remarks that his administration would not be focused exclusively on the water issue, that he recognizes the importance of maintaining a strong village in ALL its aspects. In particular, that includes improving cooperation with the town, renewed attention to code enforcement and expanding special events.

It was obvious that Mayor Cahill is still learning the ropes of his new office, but despite bungling a few Roberts Rules of Order, things appear to be off to a strong start.  So, as Mayor Cahill concluded in his opening statement, “Let’s roll our sleeves and get to work.”

 

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