No regrets … and lots to be thankful for

To the editor:

Congratulations are in order to incumbent North Elba Town Council members Emily Kilburn Politi and Dick Cummings for their victories in this year’s election.

I would also like to thank everyone in North Elba who voted this year; the nearly 600 residents who voted for me; the people who displayed my campaign signs in their yards; Mary Liz Alexander, Barbara Friend, Margot Kampf, David Lynch, Ren Davidson Seward and Peter Seward, and Jake Vennie-Vollrath for their letters of support; and the North Elba Democratic Committee for nominating, Essex County Democratic Committee for supporting, and High Peaks Democratic Socialists of America for endorsing me.

Thanks to fellow candidate Andy Borden for running and making the Oct. 16 town council candidate forum possible by agreeing to participate — since it almost didn’t happen when Mr. Cummings, sadly, decided not to. Thanks to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and Lake Placid News for sponsoring the forum and for their fair and comprehensive coverage of the race. Special thanks go to Harris Semegram, ECDC/NEDC treasurer, for the amazing work he did getting the word out on my campaign via e-blasts and social media.

Despite running for office unsuccessfully several times, I’ve never regretted trying because each time I learn something useful for the next run. Contrary to Vince Lombardi’s dictum, winning isn’t everything — it’s not even the only thing. Just as important to me this time was raising issues that are rarely, if ever, discussed at town board meetings — e.g., the declining quality of life for year-round residents, local impacts of climate change and the coming climate catastrophe, and the need to diversify our local economy away from an overreliance on tourism and ill-advised, oversized events such as the World University Games — while standing up for the needs of ordinary people against the demands of special interests.

I come from the Rocky Balboa school of campaigning: when you’re knocked down, get up. If you can’t win the fight, go the distance. It’s a philosophy that’s applicable to life in general as much as it is to politics.

If I were to run again, there are things I would aim to do differently — and certainly better. But I never plan to sacrifice such core principles as speaking truth to power or prioritizing people over profits. Sooner or later, I have to believe, voters will get the message.

In closing, I share the immortal words of the late Edward M. (“Ted”) Kennedy, who gave the best speech of his 1980 presidential campaign at the Democratic convention that August–alas, after he had been defeated in the primaries by then-President Jimmy Carter: “For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end. For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.”

Thank you.

Fred Balzac

Saranac Lake

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