Half And Half: Perspective on the Amsterdam Mayoral Election Results

Posted: November 11, 2011 in Social & Economic Dynamics

The result of the mayoral election presents supporters of both candidates with a classic “glass half empty/half full” situation. Regardless of which direction the scales tip once all the votes have been counted, and even factoring in speculation as to how many votes Bill Wills took from either candidate, the fact remains that the numbers point to a very even divide over the direction that people want for Amsterdam. Supporters of either candidate can look positively at the numbers as indicating that at least half of the city feels the same way, but at the same time must face the reality that at least half do not.

So the problem that we have here is like a cart that’s being pulled in two opposite directions by two horses of equal strength. The danger being that the cart goes nowhere, or worse, the whole thing gets pulled apart. My hope is that all of us in Amsterdam would take a step back and be humbled a little by the situation. We really have only two choices to move forward: we can fight tooth and nail to push through our ideas, painting those who disagree with us as evil, crazy or stupid; or maybe we can approach each other with a modicum of respect and realize that we are going to have to compromise and/or make tradeoffs in order to make any progress.

I know all too well that the latter scenario is a lot to hope for, but here’s to hoping anyway. Unfortunately some of the issues that the city of Amsterdam will face in the coming years may not be possible to compromise on. I believe the issue of city/county consolidation is going to be one that we as a city are going to have to come to grips with. City residents are going to have to do some serious soul-searching and decide whether they want Amsterdam to continue to have it’s own identity and ability to chart it’s own future or not. We cannot be a city and not be a city at the same time.

Revitalizing Amsterdam is going to take some new initiatives, and those initiatives are going to have to be ones that are palatable to a solid majority of our voters (hint: neither large-scale luxury apartments nor C&D landfills are going to cut it.)  Proponents are going to need to start practicing the lost art of persuasion and consensus building, which involves taking some time to understand the underlying values that form the opinions of an opponent and speaking in a voice that resonates with those values. It also requires a person to have genuine respect for other people’s viewpoints, which is not something that can be faked. We all would do well to dig deep and find that place.

  1. diane says:

    I respect your comments Tim and you are absolutely right. There must be a mutual respect on both sides of the aisle, but when the mayor has no respect for any ideas other than her own, it makes it very difficult to move forward. These past four years have put us in a very difficult financial condition and it is going to take all involved working closely together to get things on an even keel. Hiring a financial consultant that says stop the spending and then ignoring his words does no one any good. It was a 3,000.00 waste of taxpayer money for his advice. (I think that was the amount) At any rate he was ignored. The council has the authority to make the necessary changes and it will be important for the mayor to understand the past four years have eaten whatever fund balance was left. In light of all that, the mayor and GD have authored 2% pay raises for several departments. At what point does the council stand up and say no, we do not have the funds to do this?? At what point does the mayor say, we should have frozen salaries for 2-3 years until we get out of this hole?? The mayor must be a leader and until now she has not been. We cannot spend our way out of this mess. There will have to be some serious changes to the way business is done.

    • Tim Becker says:

      Diane, while you say that the Mayor has no respect for any ideas but her own, from my perspective, I have never seen you show any respect for any idea that the Mayor has had either. I think the Mayor hasn’t always set the best tone when it has come to working with the council. Maybe the razor thin margin in this election may change her approach on things. But do you think it is fair to cast the blame completely on the Mayor without taking a look at your own tone and that of others who have basically ridiculed almost every idea the Mayor has had since she took office?

      Anyway, I agree on the need for salary freezes. The unions are going to need to make some deeper concessions for the good of the city.

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