It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, …
Dickens could have written these immortal words to describe the Town of Ramapo and its elected government. Whether the decisions made by the Town of Ramapo’s government are great or awful, wise or foolish, make perfect sense or are utterly incomprehensible, are judgments that can only be made by its residents seen through the lens of their respective world-views.
The voting data for the 2013 election of two Town Council members tells the story of two Ramapos. One Ramapo seemed satisfied with the status quo and overwhelmingly voted for more of the same; the other Ramapo overwhelmingly believed the existing Town government was doing an awful job and needed to be replaced.
There is nothing inherently wrong with the two council men who were elected in 2013. They were very clearly wanted by those that voted for them; the problem remains, who speaks for the rest of Ramapo?
Just looking at the map we can see that the central areas of Ramapo are consistent in what they want. But the surrounding villages want something different. Why shouldn’t there be better representation; different councilmen for the different areas? There is no reason. The extremes in voting demonstrate clearly that Ramapo needs the Ward System which is offered as a choice by the laws of NY State.
Given the clear geographic divide in Ramapo – two Ramapos each wanting exactly the opposite outcome on many important issues, it is just not possible for any single councilman to represent the interests of all parts of the Town. It is no more possible for an at-large councilman in Ramapo to represent the two Ramapos than it is for the same lawyer to represent both the plaintiff and defendant at the same trial. Council members must ultimately decide and make clear which side they are on and engage in a healthy debate on the issues and try to reach consensus if we are to bring balance in the course of addressing the problems we are facing in this Town.
The Town of Ramapo is the largest Town in NY State outside of Long Island and it will take 6 council members to properly represent the full width and breadth of Ramapo.
The time has come for the town to stop battling every two years over representation. It time for everyone to be represented and for Town Hall decisions to be based on all opinions and real consensus.
Note: The featured graphic for this post is a screen shot from this far larger.pdf file: Ramapo 2013 Election Map