Codger feels apologetic for having urged people to attend last month’s meeting to discuss the current draft of the Comprehensive Plan, an event which turned out as unsatisfying as the document itself. As a plan for the future, it made Codger wonder if the town had a future.

The only specific proposal he remembers was on page 49, which suggested creating a “tailored zoning approach” to allow Sylvester Manor to build dorms on its property for staff and employees. It may be a great idea, but what is it telling us? That as Sylvester Manor goes, so goes the town? That this is affordable housing?

There was one laugh in the Plan.  On page 139, it identified the non-profit organization CAST (Center for Advocacy, Support, Transformation) as “Communist Action Southold Town.” Was that a joke, a dig at CAST or Putin or a sly way of finding out if anyone was reading closely?

You’d think that would have discouraged Codger, sent him into winter hibernation. He’s already bummed by the death of his and Crone’s friend, Jan Culbertson, a wonderful artist of searing, wildly imaginative environmental paintings. But, no, remembering her indomitable spirit revved him up to double down on urging all to check out the next big political event, this Sunday’s candidates’ debate, presented by the League of Women Voters and the Shelter Island Association. The coming election is an especially important one in light of the Comprehensive Plan and the need to get a fix on this electoral roster of the good, the bad and the as-yet unidentified. 

Codger refuses to tell you who to vote for, much less who he will vote for, but he has some thoughts to help you decide.

For starters, he thinks it would be useful to attend the debates with an attitude. These people are all begging you for a job you will pay them to do (and if elected they will tell you how much they are sacrificing to “serve” you). So listen carefully to what they promise to do for you in exchange for your vote (money). It has to be more specific and substantive than the boilerplate “I love this island, I’ll save you money and I’ll bring us together.” Vote for the person who tells you exactly how they will make the island and your life better. If you believe them.

There are two Republican candidates for Town Board, Art Williams, a former supervisor, and Tom Cronin, a 22-year veteran of both the police and fire departments. Both men are known quantities with qualities that have received strong mixed reviews. People know their stories. Go check them out.

The two Democratic candidates for Town Board are part of an insurgency that their party denied for a while, at least until its favored son, incumbent Supervisor Gerry Siller, lost in the primary in a surprise reversal to succeed himself. 

Benjamin Dyett, new to electoral politics, has served on various Sylvester Manor committees. Notably, he quit the Comprehensive Plan’s advisory board in what some felt was standing up for principle, while others thought was a bad look for a candidate expected to stand and duke it out. Albert Dickson, the most environmentally aware of all the Board member candidates, has hung tough under the shadow of an old conviction for falsifying an asbestos report. He was an outsider project manager in the South at the time. Some think it was a mistake he has paid for, others that he was set-up to take a fall. He’s also known for being the only Town Board member to ever vote against a monster manse.

Which brings Codger to the main event, headlined by the current Deputy Supervisor Amber Brach-Williams (no relation to Art, her ex-husband), a consensus Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (even Codger likes her). But she was also a handmaiden to the past two dismal administrations. Lately, she has been whispering to all (and even taking out ads) to proclaim the coming of a new Amber who will be her own woman with opinions and visions of her own. 

Win or lose the Supervisor election, Amber will retain her Town Board seat and presumably her brand-new character.

Her challenger, Gordon Gooding, also nice, is best known for his prodigious efforts acquiring land for public use as chairman of the Community Preservation Fund Advisory Board. His primary upset of Siller was interpreted as a victory for reformers over the old boy (and girl) network, which makes him somewhat controversial. Codger hopes the two nice candidates will go beyond sugar and spice to answer the question, What will you do to get us to the future?

No wonder Codger wants you to come to the job fair, er, the debates on Sunday, to appraise the applicants, from Supe to nuts.