To the editor:
I am not a resident of Chatham, but I am a citizen of Columbia County and spend a great deal of time in Chatham from work to church to groceries and camp. This town is a special place filled with locals, weekenders and transplants. The diversity is thrilling and necessary for job growth and the local economy. I say this because while I am not a Chatham resident and do not follow the local politics as close as I should, I do feel a vestment in the community and the upcoming elections.
I felt disheartened by the comments I’ve heard in town regarding Abi Mesick and her being an unfit candidate for Town Council. My parents’ farm where I was raised neighbors Davis’s property where Abi grew up. My first recollection of Abi was while I was weed-wacking around the massive pines along the road in front of my parents’ house. She was driving her father’s old, khaki Land Rover, which I didn’t hear or see until she braked and went into reverse. Without a word, she smiled, handed over protective goggles and went about her way. That, I thought to myself at the age of 12 or 13, is a woman I admire.
About 5 or so years later, I worked for Abi in her gardening business and discovered my passion for tending landscapes. Since then, I’ve lived in various states and countries, working various jobs in environmental advocacy, and urban farming and food security until life called me (and my husband and two children) back to the Hudson Valley region. That summer, Abi called asking for help because her back wouldn’t allow the gardening work to continue. I dove right in, and as always, Abi has been an invaluable source of advice and support. She is open, honest and works with integrity. Through the years, I have learned so much from her whether it be skills and techniques in the garden, getting my three-year-old to sleep, or sharing her own humble business practices when I’m in doubt. Her policy is to ‘never take advantage.’
Beyond gardening, Abi and I share a love and passion for farming and living in an agricultural area. This is evident in the ‘grain bin episode’ that is the source of the complaints of some Chatham residents. I attended the Town Board meeting towards the end of 2017. I heard both sides and the concerns of the Town Board Members. I can safely say, in response to the rumor that ‘Abi cost the town tons of money because of her grain bin,’ it was the opposition who pushed off a resolution. What Abi and Donal were doing were defending the rights of the farmer — defending them against the petty demands of those who do not understand the economics of farming. Simply put, relocating a grain bin from the driveway where it is easily accessible by farmer and delivery truck to a back field under power lines easily accessible to no one but the birds because one man doesn’t like to see it when he drives by is an impossible cost for a ridiculous demand. Even Ag & Markets said so.
In conclusion, when thinking of a candidate for Chatham Town Council, think of someone who knows the local community and knows the weekenders and knows the transplants. Think of the culture of the Town of Chatham and the agricultural backbone that supports the beauty of this flourishing region. Think of someone who already sees the two sides of the coin — the need for economic development, the need for environmental preservation, and the absolute necessity of keeping farms alive. There are few others I would trust with such great responsibilities as I do Abi Mesick.