Alex Hammond '18 details his platform as he runs for local town supervisor in his hometown, Waddington.

Omar Abdul-Rahim/Staff Photographer

Alex Hammond '18 details his platform as he runs for local town supervisor in his hometown, Waddington.

September 21, 2017

ILR Senior Up for Election in Hometown

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Alex Hammond ’18 found himself at an important town meeting in Waddington, New York one evening this summer and couldn’t help noticing the absence of one particular town figure: the town supervisor.

When Hammond began his own investigation, he discovered that in fact many people have not been satisfied with the current town supervisor, Sandra Wright. Yet as the town election approached, Wright was running unopposed, a fact that perplexed the democratic spirit in Hammond.

“If people are unhappy with the way things are, why is no one running against her?” he asked. Hammond then decided to take matters into his own hands for his hometown. He set aside his original plans of going to law school and ran for office.

Hammond, an ILR major, is currently running as a Democrat for the position of Waddington town supervisor. As it stands, if he wins the election in November, he will become the youngest town supervisor in St. Lawrence County in history.

“I may be only 21 years old and by no means am I going to go in knowing everything, but I’m willing to listen,” he said. “Whatever people want to see happen is what I’m going to push for.”

Despite his age and lack of direct political experience, the candidate extolled his military training at the Valley Forge Military Academy and College in Pennsylvania — where he gained commission in the National Guard and got his Associate’s Degree in government and politics — as his qualifications for the role.

“[At the military academy] I learned how to divide and conquer,” he said. “As an officer in a high ranking position, you have a staff much like the president has an administration and a staff and that’s how you can run a town with a town board.”

The Cornell senior also cited his vice presidency of the Seal & Serpent Society, involvement in the mock trial team and his general ILR course load as key factors in his qualifications for town supervisor.

Thus Cornell has prepared Hammond in being “well spoken, well tempered and well mannered, how to make split second decisions, going through the thought process of solving a problem that might seem hard,” he said.

Among other issues that he plans to take on, Hammond mentioned that his main priorities include rebranding of Waddington’s image, bringing in businesses and development, and retaining students after they graduate college.

Hammond is running on a promise of keeping the integrity and character of Waddington while also bringing in “new blood and a new voice in politics.”

In terms of rebranding, Hammond plans to utilize the community’s proximity to the St. Lawrence River to develop an image of Waddington as a place that people would like to stay and hang out.

“What I want Waddington to have is this appeal to people in other towns,” Hammond said of his rebranding plans. “When people want to go to the St. Lawrence River to hang out, to study, I want people to immediately think of Waddington.”

Hammond said he believes this rebranding effort could aid economic development. His plan for development also involve delegating resources to Main Street to make vendors and businesses take stake in the town.

“Our prices are a fraction of the rent cost than in Canton [the next town over] so if we can attract people to just drive 20 minutes down the road, we’d have Main Street market where people are paying less rent and making more profits.”

To some town residents who criticize this plan, the candidate maintained that his plan would result in a win-win situation for everyone, since increases in sales tax would offset residents’ property taxes.

Although the candidate has commitments as a senior at Cornell, Hammond returns to Waddington — three hours north of Ithaca — every weekend to knock on doors, engage with voters and raise awareness about the issues he cares about.

“I love this town, I grew up in this town, this town is great but if we let it stay stagnant, it can’t advance by itself,” he said, and he hopes to be the one to help those advancements.

  • John Plugger Mellencamp

    So…he’s running for the job because the incumbent is absent….but if he wins he would take office in January…making him an absent incumbent (except on weekends) until at least June?

    • Suicide is an Option

      That’s a very narrow way of looking at it Mr. Mellencamp. I doubt that his town is going to require him to be directly there at 8am (which is unlikely that the current person even wakes up by then) to execute the duties of his office. I think it would be much better for someone to be proactively game planning to change and develop their town than sitting back like this current post-turtle is and collecting pay.

      Besides, he will be able to empower the subordinates under his supervision with a bit more authority, which can arguably be the best thing to get some stuff done. I served and know just how annoying the bureaucracy can be in the government. This kid actually grew up there and it’s a very very small time position. So I think the amount of work he will have to do can be easily handled via satellite operations. And if he must be there for some physical reason i think the town will survive with a video link for 6 months. After all, they’ve been surviving this whole time with some ghost in office. Like seriously, CEOs from massive corporations are more remote than this guy will be and manage to run their operations efficiently. I would think a Cornellian has the skills necessary to handle this office.

      But if you disagree, I understand it can be difficult to overcome the limited views taught to you about how to operate human capital. That’s okay to recognize your disabilities. We support you.

      • John Plugger Mellencamp

        The town of Waddington has a population of about 2000 people. Based on that population, the town’s website and my experience working for upstate NY government, it is unlikely that the supervisor of this particular town has any subordinates to empower other than a secretary and, maybe, a bookkeeper. The town clerk is an independently elected position, along with the highway superintendent and town justice. The assessor is appointed, but under NYS law that position is independent as well. The ZBA, the recreation commission and the planning board are all volunteers. So I guess that leaves the dog control officer for the supervisor to “empower.”

        Furthermore, the supervisor’s primary duty under Art of the NYS Town Law is to act as the town’s chief fiscal officer. Among other things, this requires the supervisor to have an active role in managing the town’s finances and monitoring its audits and checks. Simply “empowering” the clerk or a secretary to deal with that is a dereliction of duty. If you don’t believe me, go to the NYS Comptoller’s website and look at the recent audits, most currently the one for the Town of Junius to see what happens when a supervisor tries to avoid his fiscal duties by “empowering” a subordinate.

        The town supervisor is also expected, under NYS Town Law, to preside at all meetings of the town board. Preside, not “skype” in. According to the website, the Town’s regular meetings are Monday nights at 7:30 pm. So unless Hammond plans on spending long weekends in town, he’s going to be missing town board meetings. Furthermore, under the NYS Open Meetings Law, if a supervisor physically were able to “skype” in, he has to do it from a place that is, itself, publicly accessible and noticed to the public in advance. Who’s going to pay for that setup and the legal fees to publish the notices? And is the town board room set up for him to skype in (meaning, so the public can view and hear him)? In my experience with towns of that size, probably not, setting up another cost to the taxpayers because he isn’t there.

        Hammond seems like a bright kid on a number of levels and someday he might be a good supervisor. As it stands, however, it’s clear he hasn’t thought this through well enough and your attempts at name calling anyone who recognizes that isn’t going to win him any votes.

        • Suicide is an Option

          BLAH BLAH BLAH Mellencamp…. I didn’t even wade through half the garbage you posted. I got the point from reading your first and last paragraphs. Sad I can use Friósian psychoanalytics to see your frail attempted counterpoints.

          Guess what? NOBODY GIVES A SHIT ABOUT YOUR “Experience”. Gosh, dude it took you like 3 days to give a reply to my original statement, which you have failed to answer anyways, are you certain that you don’t need to see an educational therapist?

          Anyways dude, look, it’s a town of 2000 people. I have ant colonies in my back-yard with more members than that. Every “argument” presented by you I can direct you to an app on my cell phone that does it more efficiently than whatever world you live in. Which by the way, is it still using fax machines, dial up tones, and abbacuses?? hahaha =D dude you’re a chump who obviously has no life to draft a response to someone’s online comment about your inability to comprehend the futility of your interjection in to the conversation.

          Fact of the matter is, guy, that Hammond is gonna win this election. Which means you, err I mean Sandy, is gonna lose her job. Maybe you should have contributed to social security more and you’d have a steady income but it’s not my fault you were sellin hot petting for a nickel when you coulda charged a quarter. Now go play with the power tools in the garage, I know how much they fascinate you.

          Your ideas of how to run a government must best be suited for your wet dream communist ideal. Look if you want to try out your social experiment you can move to Cambodia and give it a shit but leave the politicking to the big boys okay? Honestly, you’ve gotten so far in over your head that you think quoting literature from an irrelevant township and random abbreviations will sway people. Guess what? It doesn’t! Because the 2000 people that matter in this election would all slam the door in your face if your autistic sounding, feeble minded, obviously mentally ill collection of molecules showed up on their door step. Look mellencamp, do everyone a favor and turn the car on in the garage and just drink a couple beers. Your suffering can end if you just believe. Believe…… believe….

          • Richard Terrance

            Hey man, I like Alex Hammond too and hope he wins. But there’s no need for this bashing each other over local politics.

          • Suicide is an Option

            There is absolutely a need to crusade against the non-beliebers… doing nothing is just as reprehensible as partaking in the criminal act itself.

            I’m glad you like Alex too, I like Alex but probably more. I hope he signs my cast. I broke my arm from all the wall punching over how ignorant mellencamp is.

            Anyways, I gotta go. The neighbor girl is walking her dog.

        • Richard Terrance

          I think the keyword here is “managing” in terms of the town’s finances,
          etc. Managing does not imply direct involvment and people the sole
          person responsible. It means that he should be able to delegate task,
          though he will be the one ultimately responsible. Any competent leader
          knows that they cannot do everything themselves and must delegate
          authority in situations and enlist other to aid them or else they are
          overrun by the burdens of their tasks.

          Also I think that the town
          supervisor is expected to preside over the meetings doesn’t mean much
          here. Since it Sandy NOT presiding over meetings that Alex WAS attending
          is what inspired him to run. The website looks outdated and that
          information hasn’t been updated in years, it appears from the article
          that these meetings may have been moved to weekends. Alternatively, it
          wouldn’t be difficult to move them to weekends, there’s no obligation to
          keep having meetings on Monday nights.

          When it comes to the
          “Skype” issue, if you can even call it that. Law hasn’t exactly caught
          up with the digital age, but considering that if he “Skypes” in, then he
          would be publicly accessible, just in digital form. He will maintain a
          precesence digitally, and I couldn’t see anything that explicitly states
          that he needs to “physically” be in the building, as long as he is able
          to successfully communicate to the public.

          Overall, I think that
          by Alex is a bright kid like you say, but personally I appreciate the
          fact that he seems to care a lot more about this position than Sandy. I
          think that he has the ambition and drive to successfully pull off the
          position well and make real improvement to Waddington.