The excitement in Chappaqua has been building for months ever since one of our most famous residents, Hillary Rodham Clinton, announced her candidacy for President. No matter how you cast your vote this November, it is undeniable that our small town’s larger than life profile throughout the U.S. and beyond will simply continue to expand. Although it is impossible to predict the election’s exact impact on our town, here are an array of predictions of what may be in store should Chappaqua become a two-president town:
1. An even higher profile for our town–as if that were even possible. “The Clintons helped put Chappaqua on the national map when they moved here in 1999,“ said State Assemblyman David Buchwald (D-Mount Kisco), and a member of Hillary for New York Leadership Council. Echoing Assemblyman Buchwald’s sentiments, Grace Bennett, publisher/editor of Inside Chappaqua noted that “in truth, Chappaqua has been on the world stage for many years now; I’ve tried to convey a sense of their influence here since launching Inside Chappaqua in 2003, shortly after the Clintons arrived. The powerful presence of this world famous couple has become part and parcel of our town’s identity, and I think that phenomenon will only be enhanced and solidified if Hillary Clinton becomes the nation’s first woman president.”
2. Cultivating a culture of concerned citizens in Chappaqua across all generations. Hometown advocacy groups for Hillary were established even prior to her official announcement to run for President. These Hillary supporters from groups such as Chappaqua Friends of Hill (and Tim) have local members that span across all age groups and are involved in activities such as canvassing and voter registration near and far. Many of these supporters have never been involved before in political advocacy but felt inspired by her. Chappaqua 4 Clinton/Kaine NOW offers a steady stream of campaign news on Facebook and Twitter.
3. Increased media presence. Last month, when Hillary Clinton abruptly left a September 11th ceremony, it was later announced that she had pneumonia. For several days, several TV crews were camped outside Walgreen’s on King Street and her Old House Lane residence hoping to catch a glimpse of her. There’s no doubt the media will be back in town on Election Day to secure footage of her and former President Bill Clinton voting at their polling place, Grafflin Elementary School. The good news is that most likely the media presence will be short-lived and will only be palpable when she is in town.
4. Enhanced notice of our downtown merchants. There’s a definite “up side” to all the media exposure. “Seeing Chappaqua’s store fronts on a national TV newscast or in a top daily newspaper is not only thrilling for all of us who live and work here, but it serves as a very effective means for promoting our town and its businesses,” noted Dawn Dankner Rosen, president of the Chappaqua-Millwood Chamber of Commerce.
“I can say that this continuous media interest and focus on the Clintons in our town’s shops and restaurants couldn’t be better for our branding and for creating awareness of Chappaqua as a destination town for shopping and dining. These opportunities for national (and global!) exposure can only increase exponentially once we become–historically and uniquely–home to two U.S. Presidents! That’s an extremely special identification for any town/community to have!”
5. Warm welcomes from the community when they are back at home. “When Hillary becomes president, I’m sure the duties of her office will keep her in Washington and abroad even more than before. And when the Clintons find themselves back in Chappaqua, they will be warmly welcomed, as they are now,” said Robert Greenstein, Town Supervisor.
Gray Williams the town historian agreed, noting that “the Presidency is an ephemeral thing” lasting eight years at most and that the couple’s White House duties will keep them traveling a lot.
But there’s little doubt that the Clintons will continue to visit and keep annual traditions such as marching in the town’s Memorial Day parade or shopping in town. “Since moving here both Bill and Hillary Clinton have been wonderful, loyal supporters of our business community and frequent shoppers and diners in town,” added Dankner Rosen. “No matter how many sightings or selfies we’ve all taken, their unexpected shopping trips are always met with unprecedented enthusiasm and excitement throughout the community.”
6. Occasional traffic issues/road closures. When Bill Clinton was President, he occasionally used the Westchester Airport. As a security measure, the roads were closed so that his motorcade could pass through. Chief Ferry of the New Castle Police noted hat the department would help with “traffic flow” and residents can expect that from time to time Hillary may also use the airport.
The police department has put additional funding in the budget for additional officers for next year to help assist with this and Ferry noted that when Bill was President much of this funding was actually reimbursed by the Federal Government. Additionally the police department recently changed Old House Lane and neighboring Green Lane to “local traffic only” streets as a security precaution.
7. A huge impression on our younger residents. The cover story essays in this very edition offer a sense of how Hillary’s “first woman nominee” status has impacted the imagination of younger residents, especially girls,” noted Bennett. “Her influences on all our childrens’ futures is absolutely phenomenal to consider, too. You can never underestimate the ripple effects of a broken glass ceiling!
The Clintons have helped build awareness about national and international issues right in our backyard, among young and old alike. Hillary, in her campaign, is inspiring activism both on her behalf and on a multitude of issues. We might otherwise just be a sleepy suburb in northern Westchester!”
8. A sense of permanence. The recent purchase of the house next door to the Clinton’s current property is ample evidence of a commitment to Chappaqua from the Clintons for the foreseeable future.
News outlets have already speculated that the property will be used as a weekend retreat by Chelsea Clinton and her family.
9. Creating a legacy in our town for years to come. Williams noted that Chappaqua may well be the only town in the US that boasts two Presidents and a third Presidential candidate (Greeley). Although it is impossible to tell if the Clinton’s home will one day be a museum or if a statue of Hillary will be erected in downtown, “the bottom line for me is that, every bit as much as Horace Greeley became the signature historical hero of our town, I believe the Clintons are forever part of our past, present and future folklore, too. And in the best possible way, summed up Bennett.
Commenting on the possibility of a statue of Hillary, Director of the Chappaqua Library Pamela Thornton said, “I don’t think they [The Clintons] are the kind who want a statue. I think they’d rather see a community center or teen center named after them as their legacy.”
Williams agreed stating with a chuckle, “I don’t expect a ten-foot statue of Hillary. I’m not sure exactly where we’d put it.”
Stacey Pfeffer lives with her husband and three young children in Chappaqua. She has written for New York Family Magazine, Kveller.com, Westchester Parents and Inside Armonk.