The Switch is On



Article Contributed by
Walt Pickut

There are winners and there are losers, but the winners serve everyone, not only their supporters. That is the genius of democracy – moving from competition to cooperation after the ballots are all counted.

The Jamestown Gazette asked local election winners what they learned from people who supported their opponents. Where do battlegrounds turn into common grounds where everyone can cooperate for the benefit of all?

Top of the Ticket
Donald J. Trump himself signaled a switch from competition to cooperation in his opening remarks to the nation while accepting the election results in the presidential election of 2016.

The President-elect said, “Now it’s time for America to bind up the wounds of division; have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across the nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people. It’s time. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans, and this is so important to me.”

After President-elect Trump met for the first time with President Obama he echoed a tone of conciliation and cooperation saying, “I have great respect… [we] discussed a lot of different situations, some wonderful and some difficulties. I very much look forward to dealing with the president in the future, including counsel.”

Chuck Schumer, re-elected as US Senator for New York over his challenger, attorney Wendy Long, noted in his victory speech he is proud of the work all New Yorkers do together, especially when he is able to encourage and participate in bipartisan support for legislation. “What motivates me in politics is a better life for children and families,” Schumer said, a worthy goal supported on both sides of the aisle.

Member of Assembly 150th District
Andrew Goodell, the incumbent, bypassed his opponent, local retail store manager Jason Perdue, to win reelection to the New York State Assembly.

“I strongly agree with at least one of my opponent’s positions,” Goodell said. “His supporters and I both back better transitional housing for recovering addicts in our region. Senator Catherine Young, who also won reelection, also works very hard on this issue. We’ve had great success in Albany creating and passing legislation – with bipartisan support – to deal with the ongoing heroin addiction crisis and addiction recovery.”

State Senator 57th District
Catherine M. Young’s supporters returned her to the State Senate in Albany over her rival, first time campaigner, oil and gas industry engineer Lee Hyson.

“I want to continue to make progress on addressing the heroin epidemic which has plagued our communities and destroyed too many lives,” Senator Cathy Young told the Gazette, “…It is time for us to put aside political partisanship and get back to governing and making New York State a great place for everyone to live, work and raise a family. I look forward to working with my colleagues to… lower the tax burden…improve people’s quality of life…create more jobs for our families and young people so they don’t have to leave after they graduate,” Young added. “I am humbled and honored that the residents of our region have again placed their faith and trust in me.

US House of Representatives 23rd District
Congressional incumbent Thomas Reed won re-election to the United States House of Representatives over his opponent, John Plumb, a retired U.S. Navy Captain with a PhD in aerospace engineering.

“Now is a time for our nation to come together,” Tom Reed said in a recently released statement to the press, “and fight for fair policies for the American people, such as creating jobs, balancing the budget, making our tax code more fair and reducing our dependence on Middle East crude.” While also congratulating Donald Trump for his successful bid for presidency of the United States and applauding his drive to “get our economy moving again,” Reed will likely find a broad area of agreement and support for that goal among Plumb’s supporters.

District Attorney
Acting District Attorney of Chautauqua County Patrick Swanson nudged aside his opponent, Jason Schmidt, also a seasoned and experienced Chautauqua County attorney, to win the District Attorney post.

“Simply put, we wanted our kids to grow up like we did,” Swanson explained during his campaign, “living in safe homes, on safe streets and sending our kids to safe schools… [but] I see the citizens of the county getting addicted to drugs, becoming victims of property crimes, and suffering through domestic abuse.” Supporters of both candidates, aware both have served in defense and prosecution, may recognize common goals to support, including Schmidt’s statement that “business as usual isn’t working” and a priority of “… creating a [stronger] partnership between law enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office.”

Family Court Judge
Fredonia attorney Michael Sullivan won election to the newly created position of Chautauqua County Family Court Judge over challenger, Sally Jarosczynski, who has practiced law in Chautauqua County Family Court for more than 25 years.

“We have brought forward several innovations to improve the operation of this court and improve outcomes for children,” Sullivan told the Gazette, citing “more than 25 years of experience working with families as attorney for child liaison and 15 on the New York State Child Welfare Court Improvement Project.” Both he and Jarosczynski have noted deficits in the child welfare legal environment, suggesting supporters of each candidate can applaud the work Sullivan plans to pursue in his new post. Sullivan also says drug addiction and the impact on children is one of the biggest issues and he will continue working to identify those who are drug addicted in families faster and get them into treatment faster.

About Judges
Judge Sullivan also told the Gazette that judicial races are actually centered on qualifications, not on typically competitive campaign issues. “Candidates for Judge do not make promises about issues nor do they have the opportunity to debate issues.” Elected judges are prohibited from any involvement in campaign fundraising and cannot even be informed of donor names or amounts. Similarly, although party affiliations are taken indicating a candidate’s political philosophy, any judicial action or ruling based on personal favoritism for any political party is also barred. Supporters of either candidate in this race will find common ground in maintaining a politically and financially impartial court system, a position championed by both candidates.

Freedom of the Press
The Jamestown Gazette – and all other press and news media in the United States – serve citizens by exercising the right to publish opinions in print or on the air without censorship by the government. Freedom of the Press is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Amendment I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Regardless of political affiliation, therefore, competition among ideas and candidates in the United States rightly and inevitably leads to cooperation in preserving our freedoms and enriching the quality of life for all citizens.

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Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.