As a newspaper editor, you often have to set aside your own opinions to allow others to use your pages to express theirs.
Then you sit back and take the beating right alongside them when people in the community disagree.
It’s a difficult spot to be in, but one I found myself in yet again following Troy Gustavson’s column in The Suffolk Times last week.
For those who didn’t see last week’s piece, Troy is none too happy with the appointment of Conservative Jim Dinizio to replace Democrat Al Krupski on the Southold Town Board. Troy’s argument was that appointing another right-leaning member of the Town Board to replace the one representative from the left is not in the best interest of the residents of the town.
But in the days that have followed, just about everyone in town has visited our website to let us know how much they disagree with Troy.
One person who didn’t comment on our site, but certainly doesn’t share Troy’s opinion, is me.
While I get the importance of preserving a “modicum of ideological balance on the board,” as Troy wrote, I’m not so sure that’s what the Town Board had in the Krupski era. I also don’t believe political parties at the local level mean much more than jobs for friends.
Sure, Al Krupski was a Democrat and everyone else is a Republican, but how much does that matter at the town level?
Town Boards vote on land use, waste management and highway issues. Sometimes they waive fees, other times they raise them. It’s hardly the stuff of Roe v. Wade, the death penalty or gay marriage. Al has always been a conservative with a small “C” and almost always voted with the GOP majority.
Jim Dinizio could be a member of the United States Pirate Party or a good old-fashioned Whig for all we should care, because none of the issues he’ll be voting on have any Republican or Democratic consequences.
People didn’t vote for Al Krupski because they saw him as the town’s liberal savior, they voted for him because he’s a nice guy who genuinely cares about the people in his town. They believed he was the best man for the job.
In November, they’ll likely re-elect Mr. Dinizio for the same reasons, not because of the “C” or “R” next to his name.
And for those Republicans who truly believe appointing a Republican means less spending and lower taxes, show me when the town’s budget or tax bills went down over any extended period of time.
Perhaps the best thing about the Southold Town Board in recent years is that party affi liation hasn’t really mattered. Let’s hope it stays that way.
Speaking of Troy, some of the comments on our site this week implied that he still makes the editorial decisions at our publications. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Occasionally, myself, Tim Kelly or one of our other editors might pick up the phone to ask him his opinion on something, and sometimes he’ll share it without us before we ever ask. But the only editorial decisions Troy, who is retired as publisher and no longer owns the papers, makes on a regular basis have to do with what topic he’s going to write about in his column.