We all know what partisan politics does in Washington, D.C., and Albany. As a result of partisan gridlock, the policies that come from the state and national levels are too often poorly constructed due to the degree of compromise that goes into them. So why would we want to allow the disgusting partisanship that prevents action in D.C. and Albany to govern our local laws?

When I moved to a rural town for the first time more than a decade ago, one of the first lessons I learned was how interconnected these small towns are. It seems relationships — whether familiar, professional or simply friendships — create a web throughout the community.


The point was driven home after I printed a statement made by a captain at the local sheriff’s office where I was working. It wasn’t the captain who came to my office to express his displeasure. No, it was the man who worked for the guy who lived across the street from the captain.


It’s small-town politics at its finest. I don’t know that good ol’ boy networks and nepotism are any more common in small towns. But we can sure spot them a lot easier because in a small community, it’s a lot easier to connect the dots that connect us.


So it’s no surprise to me that there’s the level of discord among local governments. All too often those who sit on a board to pass local laws have previous ties to each other — sometimes for good and other times for ill.


However, I was shocked to learn when I came to New York that local town and village offices are partisan.


We all know what partisan politics does in Washington, D.C., and Albany. As a result of partisan gridlock, the policies that come from the state and national levels are too often poorly constructed due to the degree of compromise that goes into them. So why would we want to allow the disgusting partisanship that prevents action in D.C. and Albany to govern our local laws?


From my perspective, partisanship is just another form of the good ol’ boy system. It shouldn’t belong at any level of government.


Too often since coming to New York, I’ve heard that the solution to town or village woes will come at the next caucus. The phrases I keep hearing are “When we have a Republican mayor ...” or “After we get a Democrat on the board ...”


Let’s be clear, the party planks we associate with state and national parties have little, if any, impact on village and town governance — how we build and pay for a water system or garbage service aren’t partisan issues.


I’m not going to claim that partisanship is to blame for our community’s problems. But I will contend that it’s an unnecessary level of complexity. Government leaders will bicker. They always do. However, local elected officials shouldn’t be able to use partisanship as a scapegoat for deeper differences.


These leaders need to be loyal to all the voters in their town or village, not just those that will show up to caucus and get them through the primaries.


It’s no wonder New York City has looked at the possibility of removing partisanship from city elections. The rest of the villages and towns in New York State would do well to consider similar initiatives. It’s time we see some office-seekers at a local level run on a platform of abolishing partisanship. With any luck, the 2011 party caucuses could be the last to determine local governance.