Mar 05, 2014 Joe Genco Uncategorized
When Carol Stokes-Cawley made the decision to run for the vacant trustee position in the village of Skaneateles, it wasn’t because she wanted to start a career in politics, it was out of interest in getting more involved with the community.
“One of my goals in life is not to be a politician,” she said.
Regardless, if elected, she will be in a position that can often draw ire from the community in certain circumstances.
In considering that aspect of the job, Stokes-Cawley said she was inspired by a recent talk given by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about “female change-makers.” In the speech, Clinton gives tips such as “grow some thick skin,” “don’t take it personally, but consider criticism’s merit,” and “get confident.” These are things she will try to keep in mind when dealing with criticism with the public, she said.
“They [the community] can have strong opinions and sometimes they take it out personally, so I guess I will grow a thicker skin,” she said.
Stokes-Cawley will be the only name on the ballot in the village’s special election for one trustee seat that will be held from noon to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, March 18 at the Skaneateles Fire Department hall.
The winner will serve for three years on the board, the remainder of the original elected term for former trustee, and now town supervisor, Mary Sennett.
Stokes-Cawley has lived in Skaneateles for about 20 years with husband Bill Stokes-Cawley (the two took each others’ names after marriage). They have three adult children. Though the village does not use the national party affiliations, she is a registered Democrat.
Stokes-Cawley received a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from St. Lawrence University and a master’s in public health from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. After an 11-year career working for the Environmental Protection Agency, she currently works part-time at Syracuse University as the director of Project ENGAGE, a program that teaches engineering skills to middle school-age girls.
Getting involved in some of the village’s recent environmentally friendly initiatives was one of the reasons she decided to run.
“They seem very open to new ideas and pushing the limits a little bit in all sorts of great directions … I think the village hall is amazing. The fact that they went out and got grants and actually had that building renovated and made it green is just fantastic,” she said.
Stokes-Cawley was one of the founding members of Sustainable Skaneateles, a group formed last year to promote sustainability and environmentalism in the community. In its first year, the group organized an observance of Earth Hour, held an energy challenge to educate residents about how to conserve household energy and held an alternative energy fair and tour of homes.
She also has some familiarity with village government after spending the past 11 months on the village planning board.
She also said, as a village trustee, she would be interested in getting educated and involved with the current review of the town-village joint comprehensive plan. One issue the plan should attempt to address is the lack of middle and low-income housing options in the town and village which have hurt enrollment numbers in the schools, she said.
Stokes-Cawley has also been involved in the community as a member of the board of the Skaneateles Music Guild, Skaneateles Festival and volunteered with the Skaneateles Parent Teacher Committee.
Despite being the only official candidate, Stokes-Cawley said she still plans to do what she can to “get the vote out” to ensure her victory, because turnout for uncontested village elections is typically low and voters can still cast write-in votes.
Last year’s March election, only 142 village residents cast votes for three uncontested races, including 63 total write-ins.
Having a good turnout for the election was also on the minds of the current village board members at its recent meeting, when they encouraged people to spread the word about the vote.
Joe Genco is the editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.