February 2018: Why can legislators vote without being present?

Much of the February agenda is uncontroversial and deals with paperwork such as acquiring the right to build on tiny pieces of property around road projects in Wappinger and Pleasant Valley and the rail trail in the Town of North East and reappointing people to the Traffic Safety Board.

But one item some colleagues and I would like to tweak are the Rules of the Legislature.

If a legislator were to leave the legislative chambers and a vote is called while they’re gone, most people would figure they’d be marked as absent or non-voting or as having abstained. And if someone misses a vote because they’re not there, well, that’s life. I’d hope that their fellow legislators would wait a couple of minutes for them to return but if not, so be it. And the missing legislator can explain their absence to their voters if need be.

But – believe it or not – there is a section of the Rules of the Legislature that says that the missing legislator’s vote will automatically tallied with the winning side. Legislators can vote even when they’re not there and don’t get a choice of which side to support!

Look, I know this situation isn’t going to happen often. Most of our meetings don’t last long enough that people need to use the restrooms and emergency phone calls from our families are rare. But it happened last year to one of my colleagues during a five hour budget meeting. She stepped out for the restroom and during the few minutes she was gone, a vote was called – perhaps intentionally – and her vote was stolen away and tallied against her wishes.

Again, it is rare but the idea that the legislature would put in its rules the ability to have someone forced to cast a vote they disagree with under any circumstances – well – it is undemocratic. In fact, the whole idea of a legislator voting without even being in the room is absurd.

We’re trying to change that rule so the only person casting votes on behalf of the people of Red Hook and Tivoli (and all the other towns and cities) are the people they elected.

What do you think? I welcome your input. Email me at kris@munnforredhook.com or comment below.

Coffee with your Legislator

Friday, January 19 from 8am until around 9am Kris will be at Murray’s in Tivoli and available to meet to chat about anything you like. If you have a local or state issue you’d like to share, he’s all ears – and if there is any way he can help he’ll do his best to reach out and assist.

This month Kris has already visited the Red Hook and Tivoli village boards and a meeting of the Red Hook Town Board to take any questions and report on county business that relates to those municipalities.

If you’re unable to meet in person or would rather just reach out electronically, all of Kris’ contact information is right here.

Swearing In

Kris Munn is sworn in as County Legislator by Judge Jeff Martin.

A wonderful ceremony at Red Hook Town Hall with the swearing in of Kristofer Munn, Christine Kane, Bill O’Neill and Sue McCann. Thanks to Jodi Jacobs for taking photos, Robert McKeon for MC’ing the event, Jeffrey Martin for administering the oaths and the VFW Color Guard for their service.

For more photos, click here.

Munn named Assistant Minority Leader of County Legislature

During the December 18 organizational meeting of the Dutchess County Legislature, the 11-member Democratic Caucus selected Hyde Park legislator Hannah Black to serve as minority leader and Kristofer Munn, who represents Red Hook and Tivoli, to serve as assistant minority leader for the 2018-2019 legislative session.

Hannah Black (D-Hyde Park) will be the new Minority Leader.

“I am proud to work with this talented group of new and more seasoned Democratic legislators. Their enthusiasm and dedication to bettering the lives of their constituents, and desire to provide a more transparent government is apparent. It is an honor to be chosen to serve. I look forward to the 2018-2019 Democratic Caucus having an effective voice and pertinent role in our local government,” said Black.

“I am looking forward to working with my fellow legislators to bring forward new ideas to improve our county government and help the people of Dutchess County,” said Munn.

Democrats expanded their caucus from seven members to 11 in the recent election and have six first-time legislators. There are 25 county legislators overall.

Black, 34, has served in the legislature since 2016. She served on the Hyde Park Town Board from 2008 to 2009.

Munn, 46, will be starting his first term in the legislature. He served five years on the Red Hook Planning Board and 3 years on the Red Hook Zoning Board.

Final results show 12 point win

The results have finally been certified by the Dutchess County Board of Elections and show a 428 vote win (just over 12%) for Kristofer Munn in his race for County Legislature. That is a 33 vote increase after winning the absentee ballot count.

Victory for everyone!

I’m happy to report that all the Democratic candidates won yesterday in a clean sweep of the Red Hook and Tivoli ballots.

(L to R) Red Hook Town Councilperson Bill O’Neill, Town Councilperson Sarah Imboden, County Legislator Micki Strawinski, County Legislator-elect Kristofer Munn, Town Supervisor Robert McKeon, Red Hook Mayor Ed Blundell, Town Councilperson-elect Christine Kane, Town Councilperson Harry Colgan, Tivoli Councilperson Emily Majer
Despite the dark money paying for big signs and online videos for our opponents, our people-powered campaign of door knockers and small donors won the day.

Winners include Christi Acker for State Supreme Court Judge who is the first Democrat ever to win this seat in an odd numbered year.

Also winning is Robin Lois who is ahead by 400 votes going into absentee ballots. Barring an extremely unlikely series of events, that margin will probably increase and give her a victory after much legal wrangling.

For town board, Bill O’Neill and Christine Kane were victorious winning by nearly 800 and 600 votes respectively and will take their spots on the town board alongside Sarah Imboden, Harry Colgan and Supervisor Robert McKeon.

And finally, I won the race for county legislature by nearly 400 votes before the absentee ballots are counted.

Thank you to our opponents for a clean, hard-fought race.

Thank you to everybody who contributed time, money and energy during the campaign. It was a fantastic experience for me and I’m a better person for having gone through it. I look forward to seeing you all around town as usual and continuing to work hard for the people of Red Hook and Tivoli in the coming years.

Tivoli mayor Joel Griffith endorses Munn for County Legislature

Joel Griffith, the Mayor of Tivoli, has endorsed Kris Munn for Dutchess County Legislature.

I am endorsing Kris Munn’s candidacy for the Dutchess County Legislature because he has shown a tremendous commitment to representing the Village of Tivoli. Kris has listened to Tivoli’s representatives and residents to learn our community’s concerns. He has done his homework and understands the issues we face in the Village and throughout Dutchess County. I have no doubt Kris will prove a fully engaged and hard-working legislator. He has my support and I encourage Tivoli voters to chose Kris Munn on November 7th. – Tivoli Mayor Joel Griffith

Griffith has served as Mayor of Tivoli since 2015 and is not registered in any political party.

Kris Munn wins Red Hook and Tivoli Independent primary via write-in

On Tuesday, September 12, independent voters across Red Hook and Tivoli came out to write-in Dutchess County Legislature candidate Kristofer Munn. Election night returns suggested victory and when the votes were finally tallied on September 20, Munn defeated his opponent, 53-33.

September’s Independence OTB (Opportunity-to-Ballot) primary was created when petitions were filed with signatures of independent voters who wanted the opportunity to select their own candidate to represent them instead of having the county politicos pick one for them.

“I’m honored and grateful to have been chosen by the independent voters of Red Hook and Tivoli to represent them on the ballot in November,” said Munn. “I’m proud to be their pick and look forward to becoming county legislator and continuing to serve my community.”

Kristofer Munn is a longtime community volunteer who has advocated for saving local farms, open space preservation and tax reform, served on the Red Hook town planning and zoning boards and published the Red Hook Observer, the free community newspaper.

Munn also clinched the Green Party line via write-in. He will appear on the Independence, Democratic, Working Families, Green and Women’s Equality Party lines on November 7, 2017.

(L to R): 2017 Red Hook slate – Red Hook Town Board member Bill O’Neill, Town Board candidate Christine Kane and Dutchess County Legislature candidate Kristofer Munn