Newspaper columnists have long endorsed political candidates and issues despite research indicating that it has little influence on voters.  Not one to be easily dissuaded, I have decided to endorse two Democratic candidates up for election next week.  I recommend them not only because they demonstrate a genuine ability to tackle complex problems, but because they also possess a strength of character that betters those around them. More than ever, the character of a political candidate is critical to his/her ultimate success. 

Too many government leaders, today, are defined more by their conflict and dysfunction than by set values and operating principles to which they adhere. Unfortunately, our county and our town are entirely controlled by Republicans who have put getting along with each other, getting re-elected and staying in power ahead of being transparent, deliberative and forward-thinking. 

Judie Mirra is running for election to the Carmel Town Board. I’ve known Judie for several years. She is the mother of three grown daughters; a grandmother; a retired elementary school teacher with more than 30 years of experience; a college professor; a union leader; and a survivor. In her first marriage, Judie survived a physically abusive, vindictive and drug-addicted husband who put her and their children through significant trauma. Judie survived, broke free, and has never looked back. She is one of the strongest and most determined women I know. 

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It isn’t often we meet truly good people in the world of politics, especially someone who honestly possesses the qualities you seek in a close friend or trusted colleague: genuine decency, firmness of purpose and true compassion.  

In a field strewn with the disingenuous, Judie stands out as a person of integrity, someone who clearly knows the difference between right and wrong, and will be more than willing to confront political opportunism when it appears.  

“I’ve been blessed with a healthy and loving family,” Judie told me, “and a passion to be of service.  I’m willing to fight hard and long to build a better world.”  

Judie couldn’t be clearer about why she’s chosen to run for public office: “[It is] to address the needs of this community that are not currently being met. I’m concerned that our elected officials have not been responsive to the challenges of this difficult economy and that we are burdened by high taxes and gross inefficiencies.

“Deep down in my gut,” said Judie, “I don’t expect the Carmel Town Board to either be proactive or act ethically on this community’s behalf.  The Town Board seems more concerned about representing its own interests above ours. They don’t conduct official business openly, often discussing Carmel’s land use and business development privately; they frequently seem disinterested in protecting our fragile environment; and, time and again, they become annoyed with citizens identifying problems that demand action.  Above all, I’m worried for the children of this community, as we face a drug problem that seems to be getting further and further out of control.” 

Christi Acker is a true public servant and deserves to be elected Supreme Court justice. A practicing attorney for the past 25 years, Christi has spent the last 17 years working in the court system as the principal court attorney to an acting Supreme Court justice/County Court judge. She has also been a town justice for 10 years. 

Judge Acker has a stellar reputation as a judge who works hard to serve the whole community. She understands that most litigants in court don’t want to be there, and they are often confused by the process. She feels that one of her primary responsibilities as a judge is to help both plaintiffs and petitioners navigate their way through the justice system.

"It’s important,” Judge Acker says, “for people to know that there are judges who care about hearing their voices and making a fair and impartial decision. And that, in itself, is the first step in making our justice system just.”

\Why do I support Christi Acker? She works diligently to understand how a judicial decision will affect the people appearing before her. She is widely known for her openness and her ability to communicate—calmly and courteously—with counsel, jurors, and witnesses, by whom she is respected and admired. Judge Acker is a careful listener who continually demonstrates her willingness to consider what is said on all sides of a debate. And, above all, she knows and applies legal rules fairly.  She is a woman of character and deserves our vote. 

Lastly, we are being asked on the Nov. 7 ballot whether we want a New York State Constitutional Convention, the results of which could make many of the fundamental rights our constitution is designed to protect susceptible to reversal and replacement.

The delegates to the Constitutional Convention would be chosen by the Republican-controlled state Senate—party loyalists who come from districts that have been politically, racially and economically gerrymandered for generations.  A suspect group of political hacks at best, they’ll get to make up whatever rules they want.

The convention has been organized in such a way as to invite standard Albany bidding and horse-trading.  According to the ACLU, “delegates would be free to trade away our New York State constitutional protections for free speech, public education, separation of church and state, the environment, aid to the needy, workers’ right to organize and pension rights.”

Today, in the time of Trump, we need to guard those protections more than ever!  Vote “‘no” on Proposition 1.