Some Wayne candidates question 'community dinner'
WAYNE—The Wayne town election is heating up as candidates vie for several open seats and rally for support.
The contested races include supervisor, two board seats and highway superintendent. Incumbent Steve Butchko is facing Dawn Dowdle for supervisor; a position she once held. Meanwhile, incumbent (and former town clerk) Lois Wood is seeking re-election as a councilperson. Barney Hubbs is not running for his council seat. Newcomers Julie Haar, Gary Prawel and John McIntire are also on the ballot for town council.
Three new candidates are also running for highway superintendent as McIntire is on the ballot for a different position. The superintendent candidates are Charles Swarthout, E. David Bauer, and Doug Howard.
Three of the candidates (Butchko, Haar and Prawel) looked for support by holding what was called a “Community Harvest Dinner,” Sunday, Oct. 16, at the Wayne fire hall. However, it essentially served as a political rally for the three candidates and left out others. At the meeting, Butchko outlined his plan for the town if elected. The other two candidates reviewed their background and qualifications.
The only other candidates present were Swarthout and Howard, but they did not speak. Butchko added Bauer declined an invitation to come. Dowdle and Wood said they were not invited. Dowdle added she knew nothing about it beforehand.
“It really wasn’t a debate. If that was the case someone else should have hosted,” said Butchko about why not all candidates were invited. He added that 138 people attended. The Observer was also invited. Butchko described the dinner as a “Meet the Candidates” night to The Observer reporter.
When asked about some of the candidates feeling left out of the meeting Butchko said, “That’s negativeness. I’m not going to respond to that. It’s part of the problem,” adding, “you just can’t please everybody all the time.”
Commenting on the political meeting, Wood said, “in my 40 years in Wayne I’ve never seen this much tension and backstabbing in the town of Wayne politics.”
Dowdle is running for a position she held until two years ago. She was the only person on the ballot for Wayne supervisor in the 2009 general election. However, Butchko won the seat in a write-in campaign, 176 votes to 143.
Dowdle is listed on the ballot as both the Republican and Democratic candidate. She explained she was already the Republican candidate, and decided to ask the Steuben County Democratic party for the nomination. She said she submitted a letter and her credentials and got the support. Wood explained that is not unusual in small towns like Wayne. She added she has been on the ballot before as both Democrat and Republican. Meanwhile, Butchko is running as an independent under the Our Town party. He is joined by Haar and Prawel. Haar is also on the ballot as a Democrat.