Editorial: It will take a mammoth effort to fix this political mess

To those of you who are caught up in the constantly shifting drama of the upcoming mayoral and trustee elections in Greenport Village, you know the names of the candidates who were left off the ballot have been reinstated. 

That’s good news. But that one fix, however critical, has not stopped the turmoil in the village. The saga continues with disagreements mounting over the legality — or more likely, illegality — of an administrative moratorium on commercial development in parts of the village waterfront. 

A notice of claim — the first step in a lawsuit — has been filed against the village over the moratorium. Others may follow. As with the mess over names on the ballot, the fallout over the moratorium and how it was handled could have been avoided. These wounds to the village all appear to be self-inflicted. Lawsuits will cost taxpayers money as the village hires outside counsel to defend itself.

The political attacks and accusations, the sign-waving at trustee meetings, the casual circulation of conspiracy theories over who did and who didn’t fill out the proper election forms, who knew about them and who didn’t, all seem so wrong for the village and so out of character. 

Sadly, Greenport Village has turned a corner — and not a good one — with this election. Whoever wins on March 21 must work day and night to reverse the damage. And the lesson to all communities across the region is this: voting is one of our most basic, most fundamental rights as Americans. It should not be messed with, ever. We say this even as certain political interests in many places in the country are working to make voting difficult and the process more onerous. Nothing could be more unAmerican. They are doing this even though there is no widespread proof of voter fraud. Their reasons are simple to understand: if they don’t restrict who can vote, their side will lose. They need to cheat to win. 

It’s bad enough at the national level, with losing candidates screaming they were cheated out of a victory. No one could possibly want that to come to Greenport. The last two weeks in the village have been embarrassing to watch. The only thing that would make matters worse is if, after the votes are counted on election night, a losing candidate jumps up in front of reporters and says the election was rigged, it was all a Big Lie.

And all of this is taking place in a village where every two years perhaps no more than 400 people come out to vote in mayoral and trustee elections. All of this is a lot for just 400 people to take in.

As we near the election, as is our policy, we will refrain from printing candidate letters or letters attacking or supporting a particular candidate. 

Those of you who know a bit of history know the famous Winston Churchill comment after the Battle of Britain was won by British pilots. He said, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

In Greenport, that has been reinvented to: Never have so many been so ill served by so few.