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The price of democracy

January 29, 2009
Lake Placid News
On the surface, it seems noble of the three Republican village board candidates to say they would work for free if elected. On the surface, it appears that this is a gesture to save tax dollars — but one should ask: Is it in the best interests of our democratic society?

Candidate for mayor Craig Randall and trustee hopefuls Art Devlin and Zay Curtis have announced they would not take the usual salary for their respective posts. If victorious, the trio will form a majority on the village board.

The News does not favor a political party or question the character and worthiness of these three candidates. They very well may be the best candidates for the positions, and voters will get the chance to voice their opinions come Election Day on March 18.

What the News does question is the issue of declining payment as the impetus for being elected. Currently, the stipends are $6,800.04 for the mayor position and $5,456.40 for each trustee.

What if the only reason the candidates do get elected is because they say they won’t accept payment?

Such a precedent could become the accepted norm, and all future candidates might be expected to forego pay. There lies a real danger. A democratic society hinges on common people having the opportunity to run for office. Not everyone can afford the luxury of dedicating time and energy without some form of compensation. Candidates should not be judged on the ability to turn down a salary.

During his unsuccessful run for Congress against Kirsten Gillibrand, Sandy Treadwell also said he would not accept a salary if elected.

Voters are urged to consider each candidate for all he brings to the table, regardless of party affiliation, and determine whether or not he is the best for the job — not because he can afford to waive a stipend.



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