Elections have contested, uncontested races
TRI-COUNTY AREA—Village elections will be held Tuesday, March 15.
The polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. and feature a mix of contested and uncontested races. All area villages will hold elections.
Penn Yan has one candidate on the ballot; D. Christine Christensen for trustee. In Dundee, there are three candidates running for two board seats: Greg Wright, Warren Smith, and Jeremy Hall. Fred Cratsley Jr. is also running unopposed for mayor.
In Dresden, Joe Gibson is on the ballot for mayor and Tony Conley is for trustee. Emery Cummings is seeking reelection as Hammondsport mayor. Stella Pulver and Bruce White are also running for two Hammondsport board seats.
In Watkins Glen, Judith H. Phillips, Richard Scuteri, and Mark Swinnerton are all running for mayor. There are also five candidates for two board trustee seats (Scott D. Gibson, Nick Kelley, William E. Smagner, Kevin J. Smith, and David M. Wyre Sr.). Watkins Glen’s only uncontested race is for village justice; Nicholas Dugo is seeking reelection.
Due to the renovations at the Watkins Glen village hall, elections will be held at the Community Center.
In Montour Falls there are two candidates seeking election as mayor (incumbent Donna J. Kelley and current board member John King). Incumbent James Howell Jr. and Ellen M. Mather are both running uncontested for two Montour Falls board seats. Sharon Wiedemer is not seeking reelection of her board seat.
In Odessa, Mayor Keith T. Pierce is up for reelection. Shawn Crane and Robin Thoman are both running for two Odessa village board seats.
Burdett Mayor Dale Walter is running unopposed for his seat. Linda Arcangeli and Judy Mangus are seeking the two open board seats.
Listed below are the candidate profile answers from the contested races. All candidates, mayor and trustee, were asked the following questions:
1.) Tell us why you think voters should elect you?
2.) What are your top three priorities for the village?
3.) Do you think spending cuts are needed in the village? If so, where would you make specific cuts?
Some responses were edited due to length.
The responses from the contested Dundee board candidates were:
1.) I’m currently serving as the chair for the village planning board. I believe it’s good to have change. I’ve lived in the village for 28 years now, I’m raising a young family, I am a current taxpayer in the village, and I’m interested in making a difference.
2.) First: Keep taxes down. Second: Bring grant monies into the village for streets and buildings. Third: Try to retain homeownership and jobs in the village.
3.) With the hardship that everyone is experiencing I believe that we as a village in the future will have to look at getting absorbed by the town of Starkey. As far as I know it would give us much more resources.
1.) As I have been in the position of trustee, I have learned much about our local government. Working with the village board I have been successful at stretching the taxpayers’ dollars to obtain the maximum effect. I am a dedicated public servant who takes my responsibilities seriously. I would feel honored serving Dundee residents for four more years.
2.) First: Minimize the tax rate. Second: Increase job possibilities. Third: Encourage new businesses.
3.) There are numerous programs within the village that are important to me, and that benefit the residents of Dundee of all ages.
1.) The fact is there does not seem to be many village residents picking up petitions to run for any village office. I’m not a politically minded person, however I am willing to take some responsibility in the operation of the village.
2.) First: My main priority is to have the board work closely with Our Town RoCKS to help improve the overall health of the community. This includes both the economic and physical aspects. Second: To reduce the amount of government regulations that put a burden on all taxpayers. Third: Make Dundee an easier place to live through less, but still responsible, rules that affect the homeowner.
3.) Spending cuts can be made at every level of every village department, however you’d have to go through the budget line by line to understand where cuts can be made.
The responses from the Watkins Glen mayoral candidates were:
Judith H. Phillips
1.) I am the most qualified candidate for mayor. My term as mayor and the years I spent as trustee result in extensive knowledge about the village. My educational background consists of a Master in Public Administration with post graduate work in Personnel Management. My work experience includes the administrative role in health care agencies as well as an adult care facility. Working with multi faceted programs is my strength. Most importantly I enjoy the contact with the public.
2.) First: Complete a Pre-design application on the Wastewater Treatment Plant to identify an ideal location and costs of such a move. Future decisions can thus be based on facts. Second: Continue the completion of a master plan, involving significant public input, to provide for a blueprint of the village’s future. Third: Maintain the current level of services within the existing tax structure.
3.) I feel the current Board has been very cautious and conservative with their budgeting over the past four years. We have remained fiscally stable while providing for a fire house, three new fire trucks, significant improvements to streets (ex: Decatur, 1st, 2nd, Partition), Park improvements. To maintain the present level will be a challenge as fixed costs increase (gas, health insurance, retirement).
1.) I believe I should be elected because I have a proven track record. As mayor (1984 to 1985) I cut the taxes nine percent. That was the result of restructuring the spending habits of village departments. I do not believe there is a government agency anywhere that cannot be checked for spending policies. The private sector does it every day. I know because I have 30 years experience in it. It is essential and it will be done.
2.) First: Check all departments operating procedures and the cost of operations. Second: I would make sure that no more taxable property is taken off the tax rolls. We are now over 50 percent nontaxable. Third: Try to get some of that nontaxable property back on the tax rolls by outside investment.
3.) Yes. Spending cuts must come from restructuring operating expenses. Every agency must be checked for efficiency. If every village, county, state, and federal agency were checked I’m sure we would not be in the shape we are in. We are reaching the point of no return and if we don’t change the end result will be a disaster.
Did not return the candidate profile by press time.
Voters can choose two Watkins Glen trustees from five choices. The candidates’ responses to the questions were:
Scott D. Gibson
1.) I am a Master’s Degree professional with approximately 20 years of experience working in the Environmental Engineering field. Sixteen of those years have been spent in the municipal arena working with budgets, multimillion dollar projects, fostering inter municipal partnerships, leading and participating in committee and technical support positions, and in short- and long-term planning development for infrastructure improvement. As a husband to my wife, Lisa, and a father of three, I feel that my effort today will only help further the community of tomorrow.
2.) First: Set Long Range Tax Reduction Goals. I will challenge the budget, seek sources for new revenue, and ensure that more property is placed on our village tax roles to improve your government and lower taxes. Second: Plan for the Future of our Village. I will develop long range capital improvement plans to ensure that we spend wisely on only those projects that are necessary. Third: Improve Partnerships. I will work with the business community, develop inter municipal partnerships, listen to, and serve the public need to ensure that Watkins Glen moves forward without sacrificing our small town ideals.
3.) In this economic climate where spending is being challenged in both federal and state government, your Watkins Glen village board needs to face the realities of difficult decisions and consider budget cuts where necessary. Annual arbitrary tax increases without any accountability is not only irresponsible but detrimental to our community. I plan to work with staff and develop a pragmatic evaluation of each and every line item in the village budget to determine where we can make those cuts without sacrificing essential positions, projects, and services.
Did not return the candidate profile by press time.
William E. Smagner
1.) The voters should support me because I listen to their concerns and suggestions and objectively address them. I follow avenues instituting change for the betterment of the residents of Watkins Glen.
2.) First: Safety for the residents of the village and surrounding areas that the village covers for fire and rescue protection. Second: Continue to control spending and maintain services to village residents while minimizing tax increases. Third: Maintain and support growth of the village.
3.) The present board has reduced the workforce to a minimum. I feel additional cuts would not be in the best interests of the village. Through good fiscal responsibility, the board has been able to hold the tax rate to an average of two percent over the past four years. I would appreciate your support.
Kevin J. Smith
1.) The citizens of Watkins Glen deserve board members that can break the political stereotype. I can do this. Voters can count on me to be a dedicated voice for what is best for the village both in the present and in the future. I am eager to tackle any challenge faced by the board head on. I will bring with me the ambition, integrity, and skills to do so.
2.) First: Communication. The board needs to realize that they work for the taxpayer and the taxpayer needs to be informed of what decisions are being made and why. Second: Cost effective spending. In the present day, governments have asked citizens to make hard spending choices. It is time for the government to live within its means as well. Third: Antiquated public works. Utilities are the veins of a village and should get the utmost attention.
3.) As with any budget, there usually are areas that can be asked to lighten up and reduce spending. Having not been involved with the current budget, I can not assume what areas would be reduced. I can assure you that every line item would be examined if I am elected. The village has historically asked for more and more. It is time to stop this trend.
David M. Wyre Sr.
1.) As the only candidate for trustee committed to running as a Republican, I will promote conservative values: a cost-effective government that cuts instead of increasing taxes and knows how to operate in a lean as well as a prosperous economy. To promote intergovernmental cooperation with other villages and towns within the county with the goal of benefiting all entities by sharing services, ideas, and cost effective measures.
2.) First: To ensure the public of accountability at all levels from the smallest to the largest department. Second: To create an atmosphere of open government by being responsive to the public’s concerns and being available 24/7. Third: To perform the duties of the trustee as it was meant to be performed, namely working in close proximity with the staff of the department assigned to me.
3.) No question about it. We cannot continue to support the enormous growth in government we have been witnessing. As a trustee, I would like to work with the mayor and other trustees to closely review the operations of each department; seeing that each proposed expenditure can be justified and supported by the evidence. I will meet regularly with the department heads, and together we will arrive at fiscally-sound decisions with the least negative impact on spending that can be achieved.
In Montour Falls, incumbent Donna J. Kelley and board member John King are both running for mayor.
Donna J. Kelley
1.) In the past four years as mayor I have worked with the developer and other agencies to find funding and restore the anchor building of our village, the Montour House. The Main Street Grant has provided funding for facades. The village has acquired five more businesses on Main Street. The Rural Urban Center is being developed. We have many viable businesses within the village with significant opportunities for growth.
2.) The first priority is to work within our budget and yet continue to improve and enhance our village with a minimum to no cost to the taxpayers. Our infrastructure is in need of updating. I am working with the agencies necessary to improve these when fiscally feasible to do so. Economic Development is an important. The Office for the Aging building on Main Street is for sale and I have met with entrepreneurs recently that could return that building to the tax rolls.
3.) In these economic times with rising costs, it has been difficult, however; the village has been able to maintain our budget at a minimum. I am proud to say in 2010-11 there was a zero percent increase in our budget. One way this was accomplished is due to the revenue the village receives every year from our marina and campsite. The other is the conservative action I and the board take in the budgeting process. We have been very successful in securing a significant number of grants for a village of our size.
1.) I have an extensive background in business and industry. I have managed employees and balanced the budgets of small and large businesses and volunteer organizations. I know how to make good use of all the resources at my disposal, including the traditional village resources and the strong volunteer spirit of the village to get the job done in these challenging economic times.
2.) Federal and state budget cuts will be passed on to the village. Therefore managing our expenses and revenues will be my first priority. I will proactively work to form a think tank of business leaders to help attract new businesses, create jobs and better utilize the village’s strengths. I will continue to support and encourage more tourism. The longer tourists stay, the more they will benefit our businesses, promote jobs and decrease the burden on our local tax payers.
3.) We should review the budget line-by-line to cut expenses. But more importantly we need to redistribute some of the saving towards roads, sidewalks and sewers as well as funding more code enforcement hours to make our village safer and healthier. We need to ensure our Enterprise operations (assets that make the village money) contribute adequately to the bottom line. We need to explore sharing resources with other communities.