While researching the 2007 mayoral election in Amsterdam, New York, I found a couple of interesting articles from the Recorder. The first, written as a letter to the editor, was published October 7, 2007:
Ann Thane not qualified to be mayor
As a former member of the Walter Elwood Museum board of directors and as a non-city resident I would like to say that I was not sorry or surprised to read of Ann Thane’s departure from the museum. Simply by looking at the museum’s non-profit public information (form 990), which is available online, you can see that during most of Ann’s seven years, the museum has been run at a deficit, has had a minimal face-lift and the number of children that the museum serves has been steadily declining. Yes, she is an artistic person and has a pleasant and fun-loving personality. However, financially the museum is not in good shape. Ann has only managed a staff of two part-time people, of which one position has turned over several people within a four-year time frame. This does not quantify an effective manager and cannot even compare with the overseeing of a city’s personnel that includes eight unions. Had Ann implemented and followed some form of her four-point plan that she proposes to the residents of the City of Amsterdam, perhaps the Elwood Museum would not be on the verge of closing its doors yet again. As director of an organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of heritage and tourism whose own vision statement is to “promote a dynamic, rich, unified community that values its heritage” Ann really stunned me when she commented to the press about tearing down one of the Town of Amsterdam’s most historic buildings, having a nearly 200-year history. Before city residents vote for the mayor take note, take action and vote for the person with the most qualification to run the city effectively, that in my opinion is John Duchessi.
TOM FOSTER, Amsterdam
The second, written by Recorder Staff as part of an editorial titled Duchessi is the right choice for Amsterdam,was published October 31, 2007. This is the section describing 2007 mayoral candidate Ann Thane:
…Thane, former director of the Walter Elwood Museum, is another one of the quirks about this race. This is her first foray into the political arena — and she’s shooting way over her head for the top job. She has already defeated (by more than 200 votes) Duchessi in the Democratic primary. Her candidacy has created a lot of buzz. Unfortunately, for the wrong reasons. We have for years lamented the lack of effort on the part of the local party committees to drum up enough qualified candidates to run for office. So when someone does volunteer to put their ideas on the line and their personal life on hold to make a run for a thankless job, this should be greeted with respect and appreciation. That being said, we admire Thane for her willingness to try to make a difference. After speaking with her, however, we don’t believe she can. Our concerns are numerous and are topped by the fact that she has a real chance of winning — which could send the city into a downward spiral. With the swift pulling of the wrong lever, the part-time lack of leadership we have stumbled through in the past four years at City Hall could very well be replaced by a full-time lack of leadership. Substance is a key word in any election campaign, and is the main ingredient missing from Thane’s. She initially comes across as a fresh new package — the bright light so needed in this wounded city. The package, however, is empty. Her platform has no legs. She appears comfortable with her lack of accountability, is exceptionally vague on major issues, has no real idea of how toimplement any plan she may have for the future of Amsterdam, and gives little indication that she understands how city government operates. She says economic development efforts should be more coordinated but offers no solution (“It’s something we need to look at,” she says); she admits she hasn’t been privy to the latest city/town water negotiations (“I don’t know the whole picture”); she speaks of starting up a community business center but offers no concrete information about it (“We need to look at that”); she would consider rezoning Main Street west of the mall but is not clear on the how or why (“We need to start thinking out of the box and not recycling the same old ideas”). Thane admits the 8-to-5 aspect of the mayor’s job is attractive to her. She believes her talents are for leading, jokes that she suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder, and can juggle many balls at one time. Thane appears hooked on marketing the city of Amsterdam, developing a Web site, and selling the city. And although she’s not entirely clear on who her target audience might be (“That needs to be assessed”), she is confident her marketing strategies would work. “You can sell ice to Eskimos. It worked for me,” she told us. Mind you, there is little substance to this plan, other than her interest in having town residents help pay to maintain the Web site. Or maybe AIDA could help pay for it. Her answer was vague. As if she, too, was hearing it for the first time. She’s enthusiastic, energetic and in way over her head. We wish her luck, however, because this is, after all, Amsterdam. And the electorate is impossible to handicap. Can this city afford to wait while its next mayor completes on-the-job training, or would it be in our best interests to choose an administration prepared to hit the ground running? The answer, and the future of the city, are in the hands of the voters.