Column: Rye Democrats drop out

careyI am deeply saddened to read in the June 13 issue of The Rye City Review that we no longer have a two-party election system here.

The Republican Party has nominated candidates for City Council. The Democratic Party has nominated no one else, and has even made its default explicit by endorsing the Republican candidates.

Political parties are expected to give the voters a choice of candidates, and no candidate should get a free ride. Excuses have been heard from Democratic leaders that they could not find anyone else to run for City Council on their ticket. The claim has also been heard that the Republican candidates had to be put on the Democratic ticket in order to block seizure of the ticket by persons considered unqualified by Democratic leaders. But party leaders have a responsibility to present qualified candidates, even if they have to put their own names on the ballot.

We Democrats in the 1950s and 1960s had plenty of problems too. It was hard to find candidates. Those who ran did so out of conviction and a well-founded belief in the two-party system, not because they expected to win. It was tough to be drubbed at the polls and then hold your head high. But there were those who did it, and Rye was better for their sacrifice.

Where are those who today will make the same sacrifice?

Those of us who have been in Rye for a half century or more remember the heroes and heroines who were willing to run as Democrats, even against seemingly insuperable odds. Among those who ran for the council without ever having the satisfaction of winning were Eliot Eakin, Joe Paradise, Gabe Kaslow, and Howard Magwood.
I apologize to any others whom I cannot bring to mind.

A few of us ran for the council more than once, so the voters got to know us a little and decided to try us out. Among these were Tom Butler and myself. There were those who scored the first time at bat, like Pat Levine, Bill Cassin, Steve Otis, George Latimer and Catherine Parker. Steve, George and Catherine have shown Rye is not a bad place from which a Democrat can launch a political career.

And we express our admiration for those who struck out for higher office without first trying for City Council seats. Norma Jacobson is one such, as is Maurio Sax, beloved former Rye High School social studies teacher and political leader. And we treasure the memory of Max Berking, late chair of the Rye Democrats who went on to be elected to the Senate of the State of
New York.