We should never compromise on our core values

To the Editor:

There’s an election next week that I’m sure your readers are well aware of.  How could anyone not be from all of the signs littering roadways, political flyers crammed into mailboxes and front doors, and phone calls at all hours promoting candidates. I like to call it “Democracy Time” to remind myself what it’s really all about.

However, this “Democracy Time” is different for me because, for the first time, I have decided to run to represent the people who live in Legislative District 30 of the Albany County Legislature in Guilderland. Those of us who live here call it Westmere.

My wife, Barbara, and I decided to move here 19 years ago to be closer to both of our families. She’s from Delmar and I grew up in Schenevus, Oneonta, and Sidney, but we met in San Francisco. We discovered Guilderland in 2000 and fell in love with how it has both rural charm and urban conveniences.

After I graduated from Sidney High School with high honors, I went on to graduate from Ithaca College summa cum laude and then earned a master of science degree at the University of California, Berkeley.

My mother tells me that in preschool I was the child who was always helping everyone else do their assignments and projects before focusing on my own. This was something I found myself still doing in graduate school when she told me that story. It’s an innate trait that I’m proud to still have today and really have made a career out of with my small business of web-design and development, business and marketing consulting, and coaching authors who want to self-publish their books.

I have also always been someone who stands up to fight for what I believe is right and against injustice. One of my earliest memories of this was when a teacher tried to deny lunch to a friend in seventh grade for not finishing his homework. I knew my friend had a rough home life and because my father was a junior-high-school teacher, I knew this wasn’t right. I successfully fought to get my friend the lunch he deserved.

People rightly ask me every day, “Why do you want to run for this office?” I believe I’m compelled to serve because of these two natural traits that have led me to become an activist for a variety of issues over the years. They are the root of the gut-level drive that I have now to run for this office and to serve my fellow Westmere residents, and all of Albany County, as their next county legislator.

Beyond these two traits of my character and personality, I have four core issue-oriented beliefs for which I am running and that I have built my campaign around with the help of many volunteers who share these same beliefs:

— We need to put people first and end corporate welfare;

— Climate change is real and we need to aggressively confront it now;

— We need to get big money out of politics and have greater transparency; and

— We are all created equal and we should all be treated equally.

Hopefully, the voters of Westmere have seen these beliefs listed in this paper and elsewhere before and “believe what we believe.” These are principles upon which I will not compromise and that residents can count on me to use as a guide when making decisions on their behalf in the county legislature.

My opponent often promotes his willingness to compromise. While compromise is ultimately required in a democracy to get things done, I don’t believe we should ever compromise on our core values.

Regardless of which candidate the voters choose, they will be bringing new leadership to the Albany County Legislature because we are both first-time candidates running for an open seat. My guiding principle of “putting the people first” also means putting their needs above party politics.

Over the past four months, I have done my best to knock on every accessible door of every eligible voter for the Democratic and Independence party primaries to introduce myself. More importantly, I also wanted the opportunity to better know my fellow residents of Westmere and have a deeper understanding of what is important to them. This has been the highlight of my campaign and I have now had the honor to personally meet nearly 1,000 residents of Westmere.

Without any doubt, what I have found to be the most important issues to the residents of Westmere are: the overdevelopment of the town, the increase of traffic on Western Avenue, the destruction of the remaining wooded lots, the quality of our water, the transparency of local governments, the lack of adequate public transportation, access to senior services, programs for our youth, improvement of our infrastructure, and control of property taxes.

I am truly grateful to every person and family who have opened their door and taken the time out of their day to chat with me, often at a very unexpected and busy time for them. Should I be elected, I promise to stay engaged with residents through personal visits, neighborhood meetings, and access via my website and phone as I have done throughout my campaign.

I hope everyone, whether I have met them or not, finds me worthy of their vote and chooses to elect me to serve as their next representative in the Albany County Legislature on June 25 in the Democratic and Independence Party Primaries. Thank you in advance for participating in this year’s “Democracy Time.”

It would be my honor to serve as your county legislator.

Steve Wickham

Democratic candidate

for Albany County

Legislative District 30

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