Being a Politician in the Hudson Valley Can be Humiliating
If you're thinking of ever running for local office, you should know that the job can be kind of cringy sometimes.
You have to hand it to our local politicians. Not only do they have to deal with ungrateful constituents who are NEVER happy, but they're also subject to some pretty ridiculous situations.
Case in point: This morning I was scrolling through my Twitter feed when I stumbled across a video featuring Dutchess County Executive, Marc Molinaro and New York State Senator, Sue Serino. A poorly crafted video shows the "dynamic duo" answering their phones and transforming into a pair of superheroes to plug an upcoming comic con. The politicians jump into the frame yelling "We're here to save the day!"
It's something you'd expect from a hacky morning radio DJ like myself, not a couple of highly respected politicians. Watching the video made me wonder why all of our local politicians seem to be forced into doing so many cheesy things like this. When pitched the idea of dressing up as dollar store superheroes, I would think the possibility of snarky Facebook comments alone ("hey, the Republicans are finally wearing masks!") would be enough of a reason to make a hard pass.
But no, these local politicians continue to have a great sense of humor and do whatever they need to stay in the public view. Just this week, Molinaro was seen slinging milkshakes at the fair, handing out burgers to passing cars at a drive-up picnic, attending a sack race at Bowdoin Park and throwing out the first pitch at a baseball game. It's got to be an exhausting schedule.
Serino also has a full calendar of events that she appears at every year. I think I actually see her more than some relatives of mine. Sometimes I guess it can be hard to remember where you actually are. I remember seeing the state senator at a local German club's annual Oktoberfest celebration a few years ago. For some reason, she was asked to address the crowd of elderly Germans dressed in lederhosen. When she grabbed the mike, Serino loudly proclaimed, "My name is Sue Serino. They call me S.S. You all know what S.S. means, right?" There were crickets. The last thing you want to ask a huge gathering of Germans about is the "S.S." I wasn't quite sure where this was going, but then without missing a beat, Serino launched into the punchline; "S.S. stands for short but sweet.. cheers!" and she was out. Since then I've heard the senator use that line dozens of times. It's pretty effective when you don't really have anything to say at an awkward event, but probably not at a place that's trying to forget about the whole nazi thing. I will admit, the collective sigh of relief from everyone assembled under the Oktoberfest tent was pretty amusing.
Most people like to think that being a successful politician comes down to making good decisions for the voters, earning their trust and getting things done. But sadly, in the Hudson Valley, it seems to be more about putting up the most lawn signs and showing up at wacky events. But before you go blaming our hard-working politicians for this you should realize that it's not them, but you. Yes, this is totally our fault.
I'm pretty sure the politicians who work hard to make the Hudson Valley a better place. would rather spend time battling COVID, fighting for veterans and passing meaningful legislation than pretending to have fun watching a bunch of kids play the kazoo for 20 minutes. But the truth of it is that the majority of voters have no idea what our politicians stand for, let alone who they even are. We know way more about where national candidates fall on the issues than even the names of many local politicians. Voter turnout for local races is usually pretty pathetic compared to national elections, and that's sad because it's these local politicians who are the ones that do the work that really affects our daily lives, not those "celebrities" in Washington.
So, the next time you see a mayor, town board member or state senator forced to dance around at a car wash with an employee dressed in a dog costume, go over and say thanks. They're doing it for you.