Just My Opinion – Going Forward with a New Village Council
Last night, to begin the first Swanton Village Council meeting of 2022, four first-time Council members, Derek Kania, Patrick Messenger, Mikey Disbrow and Sam Disbrow were ceremoniously sworn in by outgoing Village Solicitor Alan Lehenbauer who had earlier in the day submitted his resignation. As significant as these changes were, replacing two-thirds of the Village Council and the Village’s attorney, they were just the beginning of constructive changes that were enacted that night with many more to be voted in going forward.
This near wholesale turnover of the legislative body in the Village of Swanton came as a result of a well-organized grass roots effort by local citizens who had become aware of the many counter-productive decisions made by the sitting Council and the detrimental effects it was having on the community. Through this group’s determination, it was able to recruit four community-focused individuals who were willing to challenge the old guard, reject the anti-progressive decision making, bring the Village forward and not let it get left behind by the surrounding towns.
The four candidates campaigned on a platform of transparency in government, economic development and pro-business policies among other forward-thinking ideals and took their message to the public with several meet-and-greet events and social media postings. The four incumbents got the message as well and all chose not to run for reelection.
The first Council meeting was a major step in the right direction, but it was only one step. There will be more positive changes coming as well as some previous Council policy reversals and these will take time and require patience among the Swanton residents. Not everyone will agree with every decision this new Council will make, but I have faith they will be made in the best interest of the community.
There is, however, one caveat. If there is one thing the previous Council has taught us in the past two years, it is this. We need to pay attention to what our Council is doing. Call it political vigilance. We must maintain an awareness long after we cast our ballots. It benefits us all and, hopefully, will prevent future Council leaders from pushing their own self-serving agenda.
Understand that we should never be “followers” of politicians. We can be, on some high level, supporters of their policies and platforms but first and foremost, we are “constituents” and they work for all of us.
I am excited about the makeup of this Council with the four new members joining with the two remaining and Village-oriented Council members, Diane Westhoven and Dave Pilliod. All six are keenly aware of their duties and responsibilities and are willing to work together, with the mayor and other Village officials for the betterment of the Village. Expectations are high and early indications are that major positive changes are forthcoming, beginning with the return of Mayor Neil Toeppe’s report to Council, giving a stronger voice to the citizens of Swanton in meetings and providing greater transparency into Council proceedings.
So, stay tuned. Seriously. Stay tuned.
Pictured: Derek Kania, Patrick Messenger, Mikey Disbrow and Sam Disbrow