Every new and successful political movement, it seems, evolves not in a vacuum but rather, it grows out of political opposition and dissent. After all, if people were completely satisfied with their government, why seek to change it?
And so, with that thought in mind, we can observe the rather impressive emergence of the New Village Party in Sea Cliff, headed by Dom Candido, who will be its candidate for mayor in the March election.
On Sunday, Jan. 28, at the Sans Souci, Mr. Candido delivered a well-reasoned, thought-provoking speech that deserves to be widely disseminated, because it's proof that there's now someone in the political process who is able to do something with obvious ease of which his political opposition seems congenitally incapable. He can listen.
With the benefit of 20:20 hindsight, it is only necessary to go back a year or so ago to observe what might be thought of as something of a groundswell of discontent with Sea Cliff's government that caught on, took hold and began to grow. It was not an organized opposition to the local government that emerged, but a series of seemingly unconnected events that converged at a point in time to create an atmosphere which has now produced a new political movement.
There was Joe Reilly, the architect up on Sea Cliff Avenue who had the temerity to come out and challenge the mayor and trustees for spending money unwisely on a lawsuit against a ferry that made little sense when it was brought and far less sense when it was over. There was a fellow named Mitch Lipson, who even when he was publicly critical of observations that I made in a series of letters entitled, "There's Something About Sea Cliff," nevertheless expressed legitimate dissent over the way in which the village's finances are handled, or perhaps mishandled. There was the historical romance novelist, Joyce Myrus, who'd lived here quietly for many years but could finally no longer sit silent and wrote publicly her thoughts about the arrogant, secretive and ultimately destructive implementation of power by a one-party establishment.
And, of course, there was Kevin Horton, the editor of the Gold Coast Gazette, who had the dogged perseverance to demand over and over and over again that the mayor and trustees release a report, commissioned by the mayor herself - a report that turned out to be so critical of the building department that their only instincts were to try to bury it so it could never be made public. Ultimately, there were many others who, sensing the power of the message they were hearing, came forward to declare that they too would no longer sit idly by and allow a small group of insiders to dictate the manner by which everyone else's life in this village should be conducted.
And at the end of it all, what emerged was an atmosphere created by this growing chorus of residents who said they'd had enough and they wanted a change. And like every other successful political movement in history, along came a guy like Dom Candido, who listened to the discontent, watched as the numbers grew - from the handful of letter writers to the hundreds of households that wrote to Joe Reilly virtually chanting, "Go Joe Go" as if finally there was someone to say publicly all the things they felt privately - and recognized that he can perform a public service by giving structure to the voices that want expression.
Like most political movements, Mr. Candido has grabbed on to the opportunity to effect change brought about by a group of disparate people with whom he has no particular connection. And that's the genius of a democracy. There comes some fortuitous point in time when someone is willing to speak up, no matter how unpopular he or she might become in the process. And then someone else picks up where the first one left off. And before you know it, there are lots of people involved in a grass roots movement that they may not even realize is occurring.
Dom Candido is an extremely bright fellow. He and his New Village Party have tapped into the real pulse of this community. He gave a speech on why he loves village life and how he intends to perpetuate it at its highest level in Sea Cliff if he's elected mayor. And best of all, his theories on how to make a village work are intimately tied to his willingness to listen and actually hear all points of view, even the opposition. And that's why he and his party should win and the other people should lose.
There's something new about Sea Cliff, and I think it's pretty good stuff.
Michael A. Levy