'How rare it is in a democracy to capture such overwhelming support'

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A week after Monroe’s Palm Tree victory I remain awed by its magnitude.

Political freedom for Monroe and KJ.

A peace treaty negotiated and implemented by long-term opponents.

Our Town Board cleaned up at last.

The first new town in New York in 35 years.

These seemed impossibilities less than a year ago.

Who could have imagined such achievements when the concerned citizens who would become United Monroe first came together five years ago? Since then, they gathered petition signatures, knocked on doors, fund raised, rallied, created campaign materials, appeared before dozens of boards and community groups, successfully ran candidates for office, and developed and filed lawsuits to stop annexations. Their causes and efforts were embraced by the citizens of Monroe who joined and supported them through thick and thin.

It is equally extraordinary that after all this, United Monroe didn’t lose sight of the ultimate goal of peace.

Unlike some who see political hostility as a fact of life in Orange County, UM had the smarts to recognize a unique moment of opportunity to put down its arms and the will to pick up the quiet work of diplomacy, relationship building, and thorny negotiation, each required to find a win-win compromise solution, all without any guarantee of success.

Fortunately, not only was KJ’s leadership willing to try, but Orange County officials, such as Steve Neuhaus, Harry Porr, Steve Brescia, Michael Amo, Katie Bonnelli, and Myrna Kemnitz were willing to help.

All of this culminated in YES votes for Palm Tree from 87 percent of KJ’s voters and nearly 80 percent of the Monroe’s non-KJ voters.

How rare it is in a democracy to capture such overwhelming support from the electorate! How inspiring it is to see our community embrace a path to peaceful coexistence.

I grew up in the Sixties believing you can change the world. Today, our world can seem too big to influence. Perhaps Monroe’s experience of the last five years has restored some small faith in the proposition that people of good intention and sound judgment, who are willing to work hard and smart, focused on the goal, really can make a difference, no matter how difficult the issue and how overwhelming the odds.

Michael Egan

United Monroe and Preserve Hudson Valley

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