By Peter Becker
HAWLEY- Citing the need for a united vision and "a new way for doing business," Hawley Democrats have presented a slate of candidates for local office. Although without a contest provided on the May ballot, Hawley voters can look to November for a lively challenge for seats on Council.
On the ballot for the May 21st Primary on the Democratic side are Marty Cox, Ann Monaghan and Tiffany G. Rogers, seeking three available slots for Council, four-year term; and Jill C. Carletti and James A. Simpson, seeking the two available slots for Council, two-year term.
None of these candidates have served on Hawley Council previously.
David Kevin Hawk is also seeking a second term as Mayor, on the Democratic ticket, and Barbara S. Middaugh is running for re-election as Tax Collector, as a Democrat.
Voters registered as Democrat or Republican must vote within their party in the Primary.
On November 5th, however, any registered voter may vote a candidate regardless of party.
The Democratic slate for Council will be competing for votes from Republican Council members, who are seeking re-election. They are John B. Robertson and Michele Rojas, four-year term; Donald Kyzer and Mary C. Sanders, two-year term.
In the Primary there remains an open slot for four-year term on the Republican ballot. The Republicans have no ballot candidates for Mayor or Tax Collector. That could change, if there were at least 10 valid write-in votes.
At a recent Hawley Democratic Committee meeting, Marjorie (Peg) Murphy, Committee Woman, said that they have a good diversity of people running in terms of ages and backgrounds, adding this was more reflective of Hawley than has been offered in the past.
Ann Monaghan stated that three generations are on the slate, offering different perspectives. While each has their own ideas, she said they can nevertheless be united as they are "willing to hear what others have to say."
Marty Cox, who retired last year as pastor of the Hawley United Methodist Church, advised that the focus of the Primary should be to present their slate. As they work towards the General Election, the Democratic Committee should clarify its platform, individually introduce the candidates and examine any particular issues in local government.
They are also presently working to include and inform voters, and encourage registration. Jill Carletti discussed the use of social media, including Facebook, to connect with Hawley Democrats.
Their numbers have been growing.
There are presently 295 registered Democrats and 323 registered Republicans in Hawley. There are also 113 with no affiliation. Total registration stands at 764.
Murphy, who has been active with local Democratic politics for over 50 years and was on hand at Grey Towers in 1963 when President John F. Kennedy stopped by, said that the ratio in Hawley had been closer to three Republicans to one Democrat.
She described the present as a proud time to be a Democrat, when one no longer had to be shy to be in the minority or admit your political leaning. In November 2012, Hawley Borough was the only voting precinct in Wayne County to back re-election of President Obama.
There had been more of a prejudice against being a Democrat, she observed. "Hopefully that has changed," she added.
She said they hope to reach out to both Democrats to cast their votes and any Republicans who may wish to vote for candidates as write-ins.
The question was raised if in a small town, it really matters under what party a candidate is listed. Do they not mainly for their friends? Cox agreed that this tendency occurs, but they hope to challenge people to vote for a different vision.
Various committee members added what this would mean. It would include moving forward more intentionally, being proactive rather than simply reacting. It involves listening to all sides, doing their research and making carefully balanced decisions.
Asked about their vision, Cox described a "new way of doing business" on Council, involving how meetings are conducted and encouraging communication. He said this was not meant as a criticism to the current Council board, but suggested the Democrats could be more "engaging."
Monaghan stressed that the public needs to know there is no "hidden agenda" behind their slate, "nothing behind the scenes encouraging us to run."
Murphy said she has tried to encourage more young people to be involved. Being in public office is not an easy thing, she noted, with considerable time spent on meetings and opening up yourself to the public.
"We're here because of our town and what we believe in," said Elaine Herzog, who is currently serving on Council.
Ed Buckmaster, who is the Hawley Democratic Committee Man, offered, "I am very proud to be with this group and to be a citizen of Hawley. Remember to vote."
Murphy said is typically negativity that can be heard in town, complaining no matter who is running the government. The town, she said, has to move ahead. She looked back to 1961 when she approached the Council at that time with the idea of forming a public library. "I was laughed at," she said; one comment was "what are those women going to come up with next."
Murphy shared this as she and the rest of the committee held their meeting at the Hawley Public Library.
Said Cox, "We need to understand we're in the 21st Century... we need to embrace who we are... we don't have to sacrifice who we are to be in the 21st Century."
[Editor's note: A story highlighting Hawley's Republican slate is being planned.]