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Having their say

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A contentious issue has been put through the electoral process, and the project at hand may now move forward.

For several years, officials with the village of Adams have been exploring the feasibility of expanding the Fire Department’s facilities. Representatives of the department said the fire hall needed to be expanded to provide adequate space for their trucks and equipment. Members of the village Board of Trustees voted in August to approve borrowing $1.2 million to proceed with the project.

However, critics said the price tag was too high and that the village had other priorities it needed to address first. William J. Doe, chairman of the Adams Planning Board, thought the issue should be put to a vote. He successfully organized a drive to compel a referendum to be held before the village went ahead with the bond issue.

This required opponents to collect enough signatures to force a referendum. They got 300 people to sign a petition, about 100 more than necessary, so the stage was set for a campaign.

People who supported the proposed project as well as those opposing it made their respective cases to the residents of Adams. In the end, voters approved the measure in Tuesday’s general election by a vote of 258-157.

“We did our job; they did their job, and they sold it,” Mr. Doe said in accepting the verdict of the voters in Adams. “We’ll get on with our lives.”

Representative democracy and the politics that permeates our style of governance can be messy. Questions often linger about the influence of special interest groups spending untold sums of money to affect the outcome of elections. This leaves many to wonder if the result truly reflects the will of the people or if it was the best conclusion that money could buy.

But the process carried out in Adams was a positive example of grass-roots organizing. Stakeholders on opposing ends obviously had much riding on how the election went: Members of the Fire Department firmly believing the fire hall expansion is crucial to how effectively they do their job, and taxpayers concerned about how much they’ll have to pay in the long run.

Each side was allowed to present information in the best manner possible. In the end, voters decided they could live with the projected costs and authorized the village to move ahead.

This was an important debate to have, and it’s good that a referendum was held. It gave residents a chance to put their stamp of approval on the issue, and indeed they did.

There is no doubt that critics wished the result had favored their position, but that wasn’t the case. What’s good is that people who led the opposition believe they had a fair shot at persuading voters and are willing to live with the results.

Now that the issue has been resolved, officials can proceed with confidence that they have the support of their constituents. It was a good choice for the people of Adams to go this route, and now it’s vital for everyone to support the decision that’s been made.

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