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There's something happening here

Kevin Gaughan isn't a hockey player, but he scored a hat trick Wednesday when voters in Orchard Park voted two-to-one to downsize their town council from five to three members.

This is the third such referendum Gaughan has put on the ballot and won.

Voters turned out in force and had to wait in long lines for at least part of the day, possibly by design, according to one voter quoted in our story:

In general elections, Orchard Park has several polling sites. For this vote, though, there was only one … the basement of the municipal building.

"To have one place to vote, one spot with stairs down to it, didn't seem like encouragement to vote," said Lena Priamo, a recent retiree from the Orchard Park School District. "I thought they made it harder than they had to to vote."

One can debate if downsizing town boards is the best way to reduce the size and scope of local government. Gaughan tried a more ambitious approach and didn't find takers among the politicians. He's opted to take his case directly to the voters - and is gaining traction for what he hopes will eventually lead to bigger and better things.

Elsewhere in the blogosphere, the Buffalo Pundit and Buffalo Geek have noteworthy posts on the referendum.

Said the Geek:

... lack of leadership and a surplus of government obstinacy was evident today in Orchard Park. 

By selecting a special election date on a Wednesday between the primary and general elections, choosing only one polling place, putting that polling place in the basement of the municipal building, lack of signs or directions to the voting booth, selecting odd voting hours which didn’t allow for people to vote before 11AM and blocking the parking lot this morning with barricades and police to reduce “congestion” in the parking lot.  It was a mess. 

Local voter Rich Wilson said, “Honestly, I planned to vote ‘No’ on downsizing until I got down here today and saw all these shenanigans.  If the local council members are so opposed to this and will go to these lengths to block participation, maybe Gaughan’s got it right.”

A reader with the pen name DAVEH21 posted this comment today on The News story on BuffaloNews.com.

Typical government... Nancy Ackerman, who is on the Board that they were voting on to downsize, agreed that the vote should be held for limited hours (start at 11:00am - then people cannot vote on their way to work) at only one place and then has the audacity to state: "I'm sorry that so few people voted". "That's pathetic, in a town of 27,000 people, so few people could make this happen. This is apathy at its worst." No Nancy. The fact that you would expect 27,000 people to vote in a limited time frame at only one place is much worse. And you still don't understand why people want smaller governments in everything? It starts at the local level and works its way up. The movement is on... 

My hunch is that pols in other towns may start to take note of Gaughan's success and decide they would be better off if they offered voters change before voters do it themselves in the form of further downsizing.



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Local Government
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