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Low Turnout For Local Races Concern Election Leaders And Candidates

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Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

In Clinton County, New York, many of Tuesday’s races were for the so-called “down ticket” positions such as Highway Superintendent and Town Clerk.  With low turnout, political leaders and candidates are frustrated that voters dismiss the importance of those choices.
Clinton County has 46,083 active voters enrolled. Tuesday’s unofficial results show that in the countywide races, 13,201 ballots were cast.  That’s a turnout of 28.6 percent.

On election night, County Republican Chair Clark Currier said he knew fewer people would go to the polls during an off-year election. But he’s still frustrated. “These are the offices that most directly affect you, you know like town councilperson, town justice.  Hopefully we don’t spend that much time in front of a town justice however but supervisor, highway departments.  Who’s going to clear the roads and who’s going to maintain the budgets? The highways are usually the biggest ticket of a town or a village or a city. I think the local town and county races are more important sometimes that the bigger races.”

County Coroner candidate Democrat Travis Nelson, who lost to Republican Chad Deans by about three percentage points, says he encouraged everyone to vote while he campaigned regardless of their political affiliation.  “So many people have died and fought for that right and I feel it’s our duty.  Every vote does count and it’s a way of getting your voice out there to have some say and more so in local elections. I feel it impacts my life more than national elections.  So the people in your local community those are the people you really need to get out and vote for because they’re going to be making changes in your community that could directly affect you. Whereas national elections there are changes but you don’t really feel the effects as much.  And I wanted to get as many people that hadn’t voted before out to vote, encourage them to vote. Eighteen people who have never voted before I know voted in this election.”

Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Michael Cashman was re-elected to a second term. Unopposed, he campaigned door to door and encouraged people to vote.  “We went to the homes of the people to engage in good old fashioned conversation. I was out there knocking on doors along with the rest of the team and you know I reflect on many things throughout the course of an election. One of them is my grandfather who was a veteran. And one of the things that he taught me was duty to country comes in many many different forms and fashion and one of the most powerful that anyone can do is to vote.”

A number of the local seats were unopposed, including all of the town supervisor races. Every position in the Town of Clinton was write-in. GOP leader Currier says beyond voter apathy it’s also becoming increasingly difficult to recruit candidates.  “It’s always difficult. It’s difficult to get volunteers for the town and county Republican and Democratic committees. They’re the ones that are usually shaking the bushes to try to find good candidates. Further there are budget cuts. Town of Saranac for instance reduced health care or eliminated benefits for the town council people so that kind of takes away the incentive.  If you have say a stay at home mom that needs to provide health care for her family, something like that, being a town council person would be a good thing for that and start a retirement.  But due to budget cuts and all of the state mandated fees the towns are cutting that so it’s not as attractive of a job.”

There were three countywide and 54 local races across Clinton County on election night.


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