The Geneva City Republican Party released their platform in 2018, which provided a list of beliefs and values while deliberately avoiding any mention of specific issues facing the city in the 2019 election.
The Geneva City Democratic Party released their platform in September 2019, which focused on clearly defined issues facing the City of Geneva, along with some specific ways to address those issues in the 2019 election.
It wasn’t long before many Republican Party candidates began publicly agreeing with their Democratic counterparts on nearly every issue and policy idea spotlighted in the Democratic platform.
The number of registered Democrats in the city is more than double the number of registered Republicans (3,272 Dem to 1,368 Rep). Republicans need to appeal to Democratic voters, and one way to do that is to convince those Democratic voters that there’s no fundamental difference between the candidates from both parties.
As we enter the final weeks of the 2019 campaign season, we’ll likely continue to see Republican Party candidates publicly adopting the major points of the Democratic platform as part of their strategy to win votes.
Platform Vs Platform
The first paragraph of the City of Geneva Republican Committee Platform states the following:
We focus on City of Geneva issues, which are often different than county, state and national issues.
While this might seem like an innocuous statement, it’s actually part of the local Republican’s strategy to win council seats, in a city with twice as many Democrats as Republicans, in the age of Trump.
A Gallup poll from last month shows President DonaldTrump’s approval rating among Democrats nationally is a minuscule 5%. By insisting that they only will focus on “City of Geneva issues,” local candidates can avoid addressing any questions related to the current administration, including whether they voted for Trump or if they support the Trump administration’s policies and public positions.
Many of the policies and public positions of Trump and his administration have a direct and measurably negative impact on quality of life issues for Geneva’s immigrant communities, communities of color and working class. Voters have a right to know what kinds of values are held by candidates for public office, and asking those candidates for their positions on the current administration is not only appropriate, but necessary for voters to make informed choices.
The second paragraph of the Republican Platform highlights another strategy of the Geneva Republicans in the race, which is to insist that the issues “don’t always have a party position,” strongly insinuating that there’s little difference between voting Democrat or Republican.
Local issues don’t always have a party position. It comes down to doing the best thing for the City of Geneva.
Some Republican candidates, including John Pruett (Ward 6), Mark Pitifer (Mayor), and Evelyn Buisch (Ward 4) have emphasized that they are not actually registered Republicans, implying that they do not align with the Republican Party’s values and policies.
Some Republican candidates, including Frank Gaglianese (At-Large), have emphasized that they will not always vote along party lines, and will always vote to “do the right thing.”
Voters understand that there are specific differences between the values and policies of the two major parties, and it’s not authentic when Republican candidates will not stand up and clearly state why they have chosen to align with the Republican Party’s values and policies.
After the platform begins with the declaration that “we (Republicans) focus on City of Geneva issues,” the rest of the platform fails to mention even one specific “City of Geneva issue.”
No issues, no policy ideas…just “beliefs” and “values” and platitudes.
The platform’s final sentence is perplexing:
Finally, we believe the Republican Party is the best vehicle for translating these ideas into positive and successful principles of government.
The consistently vague platform put forth by the Republicans offers no clearly defined policy ideas of their own, but they are still willing to declare that their party is the “best vehicle” for translating their list of vague beliefs into effective governance.
Alternately, the Democratic Platform provides five main categories, and then clearly identifies a number of issues facing the City of Geneva, often conveying how the party plans to address some of those issues.
- Rezoning Lakefront Park to protect it from development
- Reducing Seneca Lake pollution by cooperating with nearby communities
- Ensuring the scheduled closure of two local mega-landfills
- Promoting sustainable, “clean” economic development
- Creating jobs that pay a living wage
- Moving the Finger Lakes Railway yard
- Promoting clean, safe, and affordable housing, especially for retirees and renters
- Supporting more affordable day care, pre-school, summer programs
- Improving public transportation
- Addressing the food desert in Wards 5 and 6
The Democratic platform includes direct references to at least nine separate issues that directly impact the people of Geneva.
Rather than giving a list of values and beliefs held by their party’s candidates, the Democrats give a list of specific policy positions, and those positions reflect the values and beliefs held by their party’s candidates.
With any political platform, there’s no way to know if the Democratic candidates will follow through on those issues. Only if those Democratic candidates are elected will we eventually discover if they truly support the principle goals of the platform.
Policy > Personality And Familiarity
There is a stark contrast between the city’s two major party platforms.
One platform gives specifics, the other does not.
As election season winds down, voters need to keep an open mind, learn everything they can about every candidate, and vote for the candidate whose values and policy positions most closely reflect their own.
This is a critical election for the people of Geneva.
Casting your vote for a candidate based on personality or familiarity is easy.
You owe it to yourself, and to our community, to learn everything you can about the policy positions of each candidate, and cast your vote accordingly.