So I went ahead and downloaded a copy of the ballot for my district today. I try to do this every year so I can tell who I'm voting for and figure out for whom I would like to elect. Obviously we've got a presidential race, along with quite a few local big-money races, as evidenced by the irritating volume of advertising going on. But what about the rest of them? And did you know there's a proposal for an amendment to the State Constitution?
I'm pretty sure everyone has made a decision about the Presidential race. Barack Obama and Joe Biden seem to represent rational argument and a hopeful future — with the caveat that Obama is as new to Washington as John F. Kennedy was. John McCain and Sarah Palin stand by their maverick, wildcard approach to change — with the caveat that McCain may change his platform once elected just as he did when he became the Republican Party candidate, and he selected a vice presidential running-mate who (as best as I can tell) is approximately as qualified as I (or anyone) is to be lead the United States.
Anyway, here's a breakdown of the other candidates that I'll be voting for:
- State Supreme Court Justice, 7th Judicial district (vote for two)
- Joanne M. Winslow (Democrat, Independence)
- Paul M. Riordan (Democrat, Independence)
- Robert Lunn (Republican, Conservative)
- Elma Ann Bellini (Republican, Conservative)
- Representative in Congress, 28th District
- Louise M. Slaughter (Democrat, Independence, Working Families)
- David W. Crimmen (Republican, Conservative)
- State Senator, 56th district
- Richard A. Dollinger (Democrat, Working Families)
- Joseph E. Robach (Republican, Independence, Conservative)
- Member of Assembly, 131st District
- Susan V. John (Democrat, Working Families)
- Jeffery R. Morrow (Republican)
- Rafael Colon (Independence)
- County Court Judge
- Frank P. Geraci, Jr. (Democrat, Independence, Conservative, Working Families)
- Family Court Judge
- Joan S. Kohout (Democrat, Independence, Conservative, Working Families)
- Gail A. Donofrio (Republican, Independence, Conservative, Working Families)
- County Clerk
- Thomas M. Hasman (Democrat, Working Families)
- Cheryl Dinolfo (Republican, Independence, Conservative)
and "Proposal Number One, An Amendment"
Amendment to Article 5, section 6 of the Constitution, in relation to additional civil service credit for members of the armed forces of the United States
The proposed amendment would eliminate the requirement that veterans who were disabled in the actual performance of duty in any war be receiving disability payments from the United States Veterans Administration in order to qualify for additional points on a civil service examination for appointment or promotion. Under the proposed amendment, the disability must only be certified to exist by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. The proposed amendment would also update the reference to the "United States Veterans Administration" to instead refer to the "United States Department of Veterans Affairs" to reflect current federal government structure. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?
The race I knew the least about was the 7th Judicial District for the State Supreme Court — an important race indeed and I'm glad to not be blind-sided by it. I was comforted by a September 30, 2008 Democrat and Chronicle article which outlined the positions of the four candidates: they all appear to be suitably qualified and respectful of the power and responsibility they would hold. The Democrat and Chronicle endorses Robert Lunn and Elma Ann Bellini, and Joanne M. Winslow was the subject of a favorable article at the Gay Alliance of the Genessee Valley website. My detailed (but imperfect) search on Google didn't yield any other primary sources, although a website called MPNow offered a bland but favorable article on Paul M. Riordan from the Brighton-Pittsford Post, and an article from the Daily Messenger summarizing the candidates.
In the 131st District Assembly race, three candidates are competing. The 500 results of a Google search for the candidates was so dominated by incumbent Susan John that I opted to search for the challengers, but even that search did a poor job of narrowing the results as "Rafael Colon" appeared often in results unrelated to the 131st District. Anyway, Project Vote Smart offered a fact-sheet style "biography" of Susan V. John, but no useful information on Raphael Colon nor Jeffery R. Morrow. So … I just shrug at this one — Susan John has not been on my radar as doing a bad job or anything.
And then there's the New York peculiarity of voting for County Clerks — in my mind, a position that should simply be appointed as part of the cabinet of the County Executive. Thomas M. Hasman is running against incumbent Cheryl Dinolfo. You'd think this would be the perfect kind of job anyone could be appointed to as a favor [and I'll be damned that I can't remember the term for that kind of "payback" job …] because it just involves moving information around, keeping things organized, and making sure the government is accessible to the people.
But still there are huge problems with the Monroe County Clerk's office. In an October 27, 2008 article on RochesterTurning, author "stlo7" points out that it's not just the thousands of social security numbers posted on the Monroe County website [that's right: publicly available and ripe for picking for identity theft], but now it's erroneously reporting people as criminals. Dinolfo is proving herself totally incompetent, while Hasman has a fully stocked resume for the position: "background in computer security and records management with the National Security Council,"[Rochester Turning, October 28, 2008], and "experience in information-technology security, records management, and administration — including several years in the White House during the Clinton administration"[City Newspaper, October, 2008]. Anecdotally, I recently needed to have a mortgage company clear up a title search problem on my house, and when the person I spoke with looked to the Monroe County website to find some forms, she commented that it was one of the worst organized county government websites she'd ever seen. Monroe County is dysfunctional enough, but we can at least fix the Clerk's office — and hopefully foster some positive changes.
Don't forget to vote, damn it!