CATSKILL — Business owners up and down Main Street tuned in to the presidential inauguration Wednesday.
The community stood by while President Joe Biden took his oath of office, watching on their laptops or cellphones.
Tara Templeton, owner of Mahalo Gift Shop, listened to Biden address the nation Wednesday behind the Plexiglas at her cash register.
“I’ve been looking forward to today because we have not had leadership in a long time,” Templeton said. “The major lesson I take away is how to win with humility and lose with dignity.”
Templeton said she wishes to instill this message in her children.
“Unfortunately there is only one side of that I can actually show them,” she said. “I wish I could show them losing with dignity because we’re all asked of that.”
Templeton said she found it disgraceful the outgoing administration was not present at the ceremony.
“It’s not who we are as a country and not who I want my children to be,” she said. Templeton felt proud to see Kamala Harris become the first female vice president, she said.
“It’s a big day for women,” she said. “It shouldn’t have taken this long, but I’m proud we finally got there.”
Eight-year-old Hazel Nichols, of Catskill, watched the inauguration at The Mermaid Cafe with her canine companion, Clover.
“It was kind of cool,” Hazel said when asked what it was like to see Harris become vice president.
“I think it’s important as a young lady for her to watch a woman be inaugurated into such a high position,” Michelle Williams, owner of The Mermaid Cafe, said. “She has been following the election and it’s important to see the outcome after the siege at the Capitol last week, to see it can still happen, to see democracy upheld even in the wake of that.”
Catskill resident Martin Miller said the inauguration was all part of the democratic process.
“People get voted in and people get voted out,” he said. “We all have our different political parties, but the only way to change it is to vote. The real votes count — not the fake votes, not the dead people votes.”
Greene County Independence Party Chairwoman Irene Acker Sr. was dismayed to see her party lose its line on the ballot. The status of a political party is determined every four years during the gubernatorial election. Any party whose gubernatorial candidate receives at least 130,000 votes or 2% of the total votes, whichever is higher, will remain on the ballot as an official party. The Independence Party received less than 1% of the votes.
“Our votes don’t count,” she said. “It’s up to the electoral party anyway. The electoral party picks the president.”
Greene County Democratic Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Riggs expressed hope that the new administration will help the nation get through the tough times.
“Today reaffirms democracy with every gesture made and every word spoken,” Riggs said. “Today’s inauguration means more to me, to women, to young girls across our communities than many would assume. And while we note this historic transition of power at the national level, it is important to remember that democracy requires participation. We have an opportunity to move forward as a country united in support of all the American people. There is a lot of heartache in our communities right now: deterred by a virus that is wreaking havoc in our homes, financial distress of our businesses, and too many doing too much to barely stay afloat. I’m hopeful that the new administration will lead with integrity, honor and respect, and bring all voices to the table, no matter political affiliation, to tackle our country’s most complex issues. We must do the same in Greene County.”
Jonathan Gross, of Mountain Top Progressives, said he believes Biden will see the nation through these trying times.
“I’m personally inspired by Biden’s vision,” Gross said. “I think he is a practical leader with practical solutions. His cabinet is astonishing and inspiring. He’s not a pushover and I think he’s an example for all of us that are doing what we can to maintain that vision but not to back off of our very, very strong beliefs. The country needs a vision in a time of uncertainty, a strong leader with a good heart and I think that he more than anybody will be able to unite us and I can’t speak for all of Mountain Top Progressives but I can say, for me, that vision inspires me to do more community action.”
Daniel Donnelly, a judicial district representative with the Libertarian Party, said he hopes the new president is mindful of citizens’ personal freedom.
“We wish President Biden well, we wish him success and we will remind him that this country was founded on liberty and hope he understands a greater degree of personal liberty is what Americans as a whole favor.”
Greene County Republican Committee Chairman Brent Bogardus and Catskill Republican Committee Chairman Matt Luvera could not be reached for comment before press time Wednesday.
Aliya Schneider contributed to this report.