When Jordanna Mallach ’00 decided to run for supervisor of Harrietstown, N.Y., she had no idea she’d be doing so from 4,600 miles away.
But as a major in the U.S. Army National Guard, the unexpected sometimes happens.
After she deployed in June 2021, she depended on her husband and a town council member to execute the campaign plans she made before she left.
“When I spoke at the caucus where I was nominated to run on the Democratic line, I explained that I realize it is a big ask of my community to vote for me when I am not there campaigning,” Mallach said. “I asked my community to support me as well as my military service and to help carry the load that is the commitment of being a National Guard soldier.”
“I have served for 19 years and at times this service has come with significant sacrifices to me and my family,” she continued. “My request was that my community be willing to absorb a tiny bit of that inconvenience along with me. I am really grateful that the message resonated.”
Mallach, who finished her first term as a Harrietstown councilwoman in December 2021, was elected supervisor Nov. 2.
Being up for election while on assignment abroad came with some unique challenges.
“Federal law and Department of Defense directives clearly spell out what a service member can and cannot do while on active duty with regards to political activity,” Mallach said. “I had to work with the Vermont Army National Guard Judge Advocate General and my chain of command to remain in my town council position, and to run for and serve as supervisor.”
“I feel fortunate my chain of command supported my decision and I am grateful for their assistance in making it possible to do both.”
Mallach worked the first few months of her four-year term remotely from Kosovo, using Zoom to attend board meetings and carry out other duties. She returned home in March after completing her assignment as a logistics plans officer supporting NATO efforts in the region.
She’s looking forward to continuing to serve her community in person.
One of her top priorities is the Lake Clear Airport and its designation as a Superfund Site. She said she’ll work hard to ensure the town and taxpayer interests are represented throughout the roughly 10-year mitigation and clean-up process.
Mallach also intends to implement an employee recognition program to thank the individuals who work hard on behalf of the town, and improve the town website to make it more user-friendly and accessible.
This last item is in line with her overall desire to make local government – and her actions as supervisor – more transparent.
“I want my community to trust me as an elected official and I feel that trust is easier to achieve if people are aware of what I’m doing, how decisions are being made and who I am meeting with,” Mallach said. “I do not expect everyone to agree with every decision I make, but I want them to understand why I decided the way I did.”
“I welcome the community to attend meetings, speak during public comment sessions or invite me to their organization or business to learn about what they do and why it’s important to them,” she added.
Mallach’s dedication to service, both at home and abroad, is deeply rooted in family. Her sister, Leora Mallach, also won an election Nov. 2 – to the Framingham (Mass.) City Council.
“Growing up my parents always encouraged us (four children) to get involved in our community. I remember going to the polls with my parents, marching on Washington, D.C., with them and going to lobbying days with them,” Mallach said. “As far back as my mind can remember, I have understood that you have to participate in a democracy in order for it to be most effective.”
Mallach’s experience at Union only added to what family taught her. On campus, she studied political science and secondary education.
“My political science classes always encouraged discussion and those discussions helped me solidify my belief that government, in its best form, serves the people,” she said.