To: Editor of Rockland Voice
From: Mike Diederich, Jr. – Stony Point, NY
I am a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, and a lawyer who believes is democracy and contested elections. I’d like to believe that democracy works in America.
Yet I see that there are major party contests for County Legislator in only 7 of 17 legislative districts. Ten incumbents with no major party opposition! This is disgraceful. Are the County’s legislators doing such a splendid job, and is our future as citizens of this county so secure, that no challenge or debate is necessary? I think not. And I had hoped to raise some important issues in this regard in this year’s election.
I ran for the Rockland Legislature (district 1—basically Stony Point and Sloatsburg) in 2007 and lost by 9 votes. This year I assumed the local Democratic Party would put up a candidate, but it did not. So I decided to run as an independent.
I got 350+ people to sign my petition—what I thought was more than enough. But the Republican incumbent, Doug Jobson, challenged the signatures and the local Board of Elections (mistakenly) agreed. I sued to get on the ballot, but the judge said I needed to sue within 3 days of the Board of Elections’ decision (even though I did not receive the Board’s letter until after the 3 days had expired).
I think the judge’s decision is clearly wrong, and I could appeal. But then I ask myself “why bother?” The two major political parties apparently made a deal that this race be unopposed. Otherwise why did the local Democratic Party offer no opposition candidate?
So Mr. Jobson will now get a “free pass” for a new 4 year term in the Legislature. Should I spend the time and money to appeal the court’s decision, to try to get on the ballot in 2016? I think not. It seems to me that the system is simply too rigged against independents for this to be a useful effort. Yet it saddens me as a citizen that I had the requisite number of signatures to be on the ballot as an independent, yet due to Mr. Jobson’s challenges on technicalities, he will run unopposed.
That’s an insult to the voters. Mr. Jobson would have been more respectful to the voters, and democracy, had he agreed to a race, rather than deprive the voters of Stony Point and Sloatsburg of a choice on Election Day.
Mike Diederich, Jr.
Stony Point, NY