SPRINGVILLE — In the United States, we have many privileges. Watching the violent protests unfolding in Kiev, Ukraine and thinking about the less glamorous side of the Olympic site of Socchi, Russia, and what many of that country’s residents endure, makes me value those privileges even more. Two of those are the freedom of the press and the freedom of speech, which I exercise every day. Another is the right to vote, which Springville residents will get a chance to exercise in a few weeks, at the March 18 village trustee and mayor elections.
Those elections have passed almost uneventfully, for many years. Last cycle, a vote recount caused a stir of the pot, and residents got to watch, as the local political process became more visible, more transparent and more exciting than it had in years. This year, brace yourselves for an even wilder ride. Two trustee seats will see a field of five candidates vie for spots and longtime Springville Mayor William Krebs will go head-to-head with newcomer Thomas Czechowski. In addition, three parties have emerged in support of those candidates: the Citizen Voice Party, Revitalize Springville and People’s Empowerment Party.
Two weeks ago, the Journal ran an announcement of who was throwing their hat into the ring, for those open seats. Last week, the Journal ran a story detailing what we could find out about each party’s platform. One thing struck me, as I was doing the research for both of those: A lot of the candidates’ platforms, statements of intent and issues they hope to act on sound awfully similar, on paper.
We at the Journal do our best to educate the public on where candidates stand, especially in an election as hotly contested as this one promises to be. To that end, we decided the best way to show you the candidates was to let them speak for themselves, in public, for all of you to decide which man or woman is best for the job.
March 10 at 7 p.m. will be the first Journal-sponsored Meet the Candidates Night, held at the Springville-Griffith Institute auditorium. This free event will give the candidates a chance to speak about their platforms and answer a selection of questions about where they stand on local issues such as smart growth, distressed properties, economic and streetscape development, grants and fundraising and other matters that have come up in the village, again and again.
Our intent is to make the evening an educational, enlightening display of who exactly will appear on the ballot list, without the “fifth estate” getting in the way. We hope to encourage an open dialogue, frank discussion and of course, transparency to the public that we all value in our government officials.
Please consider this your first invitation to come hear what the candidates have to say, even if you don’t live within Springville village limits. Bring your kids, to let them experience the political process first-hand, and bring your own questions, for a brief question-and-answer session, time allowing.
Our country is only as great as our participation in it. I’ve always done my best to vote in every election, and to educate myself about the candidates, issues and platforms at stake, not only at election time, but throughout the year, as the candidates we chose conduct their work. As a citizen of the United States, Erie County and Western New York, I watch what our elected officials are doing with the power we’ve given them, to run the places we live and work. I try to educate myself on the important issues of the day, so I’ll know who to vote for, next time the ballot boxes come around, and who to leave off my checkbox list. Consider this Meet the Candidates Night your chance to do the same.