Journaling: Vox Populi, or Punt 

Bruce Apar is Editorial Director + Associate Publisher of River Journal North

The year got off to an – oh, heck, let’s call it – interesting start for some newly-elected town officials.   

A couple of immediate past supervisors were offered – oh, heck, let’s call it – sinecures, the political equivalent of Thanks for the Memories.  

In one case, the largesse of the town board in creating a customized “consulting” position was so conspicuously large, it unleashed a predictable backlash from taxpayers that undid the deal, leaving bemused town wags to wonder of the faux pas, “What were they thinking in the first place … that nobody would notice?”


Over in another town, a freshman Supervisor, warming to the heady sway of his newfound pulpit, appointed his predecessor – who had elected not to seek re-election – as Deputy Supervisor, rebuffing the town board member who held that title. The new Deputy happened to be of the same rosy political persuasion as the new Supervisor, while the deposed Deputy is of the bluish persuasion.  

Needless to say, the newbie Supe wouldn’t want to be caught-red-handed reaching across party lines to leave intact the incumbent Deputy. The new guy’s patrons might mistake him for – heaven forbid – bipartisan!    

There was a political pandemic of sorts in this curious category of patronage.  


No fewer than three new Supervisors thought it a popular – if not populist – notion to appoint someone other than an elected member of their town board to the understudy role of Deputy Supervisor (which position, per se, does not wield a vote – thank goodness for small favors).  

Unlike the aforementioned pushback via vox populi that jettisoned the costly consultancy, apparently townfolk elsewhere are not all that exercised about who is deputized. The populi punted.   

Turns out I wasn’t the only local ink-stained wretch to be caught unawares that a Deputy Supervisor can be appointed without first having been voted in by the public. That strange allowance is codified in Section 42 of New York State Senate legislation, which in part reads … “Any person, including a town officer, official or employee, may be appointed deputy supervisor, provided that the person appointed shall possess the same qualifications as an elective town officer.”  

What, pray tell, constitutes the “qualifications of an elective town officer”?  Wouldn’t a primary criterion be that the person is elected 

Sounds like the makings of a Monty Python skit … “You must possess the same qualifications as an elective town officer, except for that silly part about you having to actually be elected. Democracy can be such a petty party pooper, eh?” 


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About the Author: Bruce Apar