They call it The Silly Season for a reason. Elections — and particularly local elections — often bring out the silliness in everyone involved, including the candidates, their handlers and supporters, sometimes even the voters.
The former Joan Giger Walker and I decided the best way to avoid the silliness this year was to get out of town for Election Day. And we did, after having submitted our absentee ballots, of course. This is being written on Tuesday morning, Nov. 5, and we are 800 miles from home, in Asheville, N.C.
And yet the silliness has followed us here.
Actually, for us the silliness began last week when the paper made its endorsements. Friends of ours began to call and email us with essentially the same question: How could the paper possibly have endorsed challenger Bill Goggins over incumbent Town Justice Bill Price Jr.?
Our short answer: Ask the paper. Apparently even some of our close friends need to be reminded that Joan and I no longer own nor work for the paper. (Although I still do write this column every other week.) It’s been years since I was involved in the endorsement process — and it is a process, involving both editors and reporters, who make their final decision by majority vote — nor are we involved in any editorial or management decision making. Repeat: any.
Still, the silliness persists. On Monday a friend called to ask why the paper tipped off the Goggins camp in advance so they could mail a postcard delivered on Saturday morning, alerting voters to the endorsement. (Yes, this guy still is a friend.) The answer is simple: Every Thursday morning around 4 a.m., the content of the paper is “published” on its website, giving Goggins and his supporters 37 hours — more than enough time — to print, address and post the cards before the post office closed at 5 p.m. Friday. The paper never has provided — and, I firmly believe, never will provide — advance notice of any political endorsement, including to the former owners and co-publishers, who were surprised as anyone by the endorsement of Bill Goggins.
There’s one more indicator that this silliness has followed us here to North Carolina, although it’s really more a coincidence than pure silliness.
Last night, we were getting a brief tour of Asheville in a car driven by former Mattituck-Cutchogue School District staff member Debbie Gurriere. In the passenger seat was her husband, Ray, former owner of the Love Lane (Mattituck) Pharmacy. We knew Debbie and Ray when they lived in Mattituck, and we got in touch with them when we knew we were going to be passing through Asheville, where they have lived since leaving the North Fork several years ago.
They were, as you might imagine, curious about the local election back in Southold Town, and I told them about the endorsement flap and the fact that I had written an earlier column supporting Bill Price. (Living proof that we no longer have a say in the endorsements.) And as they were getting ready to drop us off at our B&B, Ray announced that he had just sent a text message to an old friend of theirs back in New Suffolk, saying they were currently riding around Asheville with Joan and Troy Gustavson.
Can you guess who the old friend is? None other than Bill Goggins himself.
Even 800 miles away from home, it seems the silliness cannot be avoided.