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More: In their own words

November 1, 2009
Observer Today

Kim Hanlon

1. The number one problem in the city of Dunkirk would be the declining number of people in the city. We need to have opportunities for our children, so they have the option to come back to Dunkirk after attending college or gaining life experience, and be able to find work. I can't even tell you the number of times I've heard people say, "I love coming home to Dunkirk, but there aren't any jobs available here for me."

If we have work available for them, then they can begin to raise their families here. We need to find a mix of public attraction facilities along with retail and commercial projects. We need to advertise our empty buildings and store fronts so business can start coming in. We need to continue working toward the development of our brownfield sites and the Millennium Parkway. This is a great city built on a beautiful lake. It should be thriving and booming with jobs and tourism. People are our best natural resource, so let's utilize them.

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2. Although I may be a newcomer to the political arena, I have a passion to see this city built up to its fullest potential because my family is vested in this city. I work in the city along with my husband. I currently have four children in the school system attending high school, middle school and School 4, and my youngest hasn't even started school yet. We have had a great experience with all three of the schools and I am proud to have my children attend them.

As you can see, as a parent I want what's best for them. Nothing gives a parent more drive than their children, so I have drive to make this community bigger, better, and safer. I bring a positive approach and enthusiasm. I am your city's new, young attitude with a lot of energy. I can ask the tough questions and be your voice, but it will be done in a respectful manner to city council, department heads, and the people of Dunkirk.

3. Consolidation is not a new concept; it has been in existence for many years. Unfortunately, New York State has not taken full advantage of this concept. The idea behind consolidation is to expand or broaden the tax base so the brunt of the taxes doesn't lie on the hand of the people in the city. So, in regard to the sharing of services I think we first need to look at the water department. For starters, we need to address the issues that are facing our pumping stations.

We can't continue to put band aids on the boo boos and ignore the infection. We need to fix the issues. I believe we're headed in the right direction with the funds the city has already bonded, but we need to focus on the larger picture, which is distribution of city water to outlying areas. There is no reason the City of Dunkirk cannot provide water to everybody, from Ripley to Siler Creek, and south to Cassadaga, thus improving upon the greater Chadwick Bay area.

I personally want to thank everybody who has given me support so far throughout my campaign. I look forward to serving the people in the City of Dunkirk and I thank you in advance for your support on Nov. 3.


Marie Damico

1. Since announcing my intention to run for the Fourth Ward council position I've had the opportunity to speak with many city voters about what they feel is working and what needs to be changed. Over and over I've heard that residents are tired of the bickering among politicians and control by parties trying to impose their agendas.

This isn't to say that questions shouldn't be asked and that the mayor and council members must agree all the time. I believe it's quite the opposite. Questions need to be asked and individuals have a right to their own opinions. A constructive conversation between adults involves listening to another's point of view and respecting their right to their opinion. These exchanges often involve making compromises and at times, agreeing to follow a course selected by the majority without sabotaging and badmouthing it, thus dooming it before it has a chance. New and improved ideas often result from such discussions; however, these conversations can be conducted without insulting and demeaning one another.

I've said before, individuals running for public office should have the best interests of the city and its taxpayers at heart. This isn't the time for trying to meet individual or party agendas. Dunkirk has built up some momentum over the past couple of years due to projects such as Crocker Sprague, the Boardwalk and Incubator. Businesses have announced intentions to expand (ECR's new line and Purina) and others are relocating to the city (Remtronics) resulting in new jobs.

Let's keep moving forward and not spend too much time tearing each other apart. Outsiders tear Dunkirk down often enough; let's prove them wrong rather than joining in.

2. I'm asking people to vote for me rather than my opponent based upon my qualifications and my experience working with individuals and families in our city. My training as a Licensed Master Social Worker involved analyzing and solving problems on an individual level, a small group level and on a larger, community scale. I utilize skills such as problem identification, communication, mediation and consensus building on a daily basis. I am accustomed to working with diverse groups and utilizing a variety of resources to solve problems.

I've been active in the community on my own and through the Dunkirk Teachers' Association: baking cookies for Dunkirk senior citizens, volunteering at the Friendly Kitchen, helping to distribute school supplies and warm winter clothing to needy students, coordinating holiday gifts for needy families, providing for fundraisers at my church, and joining the Friends of the Dunkirk Free Library are some of the activities I've been involved with over the past few years alone.

My husband and I are proud, 17-year home owners and taxpayers. We've made the choice to stay in Dunkirk and in doing so, are committed to making it a better community. In addition, I'm not a member of either major political party in the city. I am an independent thinker and would have the best interests of the city and its taxpayers at the heart of my decisions.

3. I believe it makes sense to explore every option in an effort to save money. Given that New York state's deficit continues to grow we're going to need to be creative and look "outside the box" as we move forward. Most people agree that they want to hold onto or even improve upon existing city services; the question always remains "How are we going to pay for it?" Having said that, obviously any shared services agreement must benefit all parties entering it or it's doomed to fail.

I feel a good starting point would be to identify common areas of purchase such as office supplies, road salt, computer equipment, etc. and see if lower prices can be obtained by purchasing in a larger quantity. As far as consolidating departments, I'd need to be convinced that it would actually save money.

The recent downsizing of Erie County town and village boards does little to decrease the spending costs in a community. I applaud Perrysburg for going further and actually looking at the numbers and impact on taxpayers if the town is dissolved. We hear over and over about the cost to taxpayers for the many layers of government in New York state with each city, town and village plowing and maintaining its own roads for example. I would like to see a concerted effort at decreasing the number of governing entities as a way to manage costs and possibly provide even better services.

Stacy Szukala

1. I feel strongly that the city of Dunkirk needs to address the aging infrastructure. This is not going to be a "quick fix" as this problem has been ignored for quite some time. Making the appropriate upgrades in a timely manner, without raising taxes and fees will be a priority for me if elected to the Dunkirk city council. Being able to improve the quality of the infrastructure so that our homes, small businesses, and factories function properly thus allowing Dunkirk to remain marketable in the future.

If elected, I would take the time needed to discuss all options of budget reduction within each department, allowing more funding toward needed upgrades. It would be necessary to review every line within next year's proposed budget. I think the city should consider having an energy audit and take any recommended advice or ideas of how to cut costs for the city. Aiding in the research for possible grant money to help with this project would also be a priority.

Being able to openly communicate with current officials and any newly elected council members to make the difficult, yet necessary steps to cut costs and improve the city infrastructure is what I feel is the biggest problem facing Dunkirk.

2. I think voters should vote for me because I have the time and energy needed to perform the duties as a city council member. As a stay-at-home mom, my availability is extremely flexible. This will allow more time to talk with residents about their concerns, thus leading to a prompt solution. I have chosen to stay in my home town to raise my family.

I want to become an instrumental part of the decision-making team, bettering the community for my family and every family in Dunkirk. Teaching my children by example is the best teaching method I know. I would like to give back to the community so that my children will someday do the same.

I do NOT promise to change the world, I do promise to listen to the concerns of the residents and continue to ask questions until we receive the answers we are looking for and the results we deserve.

3. Consolidation and change are issues that many residents struggle with. Allowing for public input through this process is essential. This is an extremely important area to look at when trying to save tax dollars. I feel that sharing services with another community is a great way to reduce costs.

Some areas of consolidation that are already being researched, such as first responders, should continue. I feel that working out the logistics of shared buildings and personnel would be needed. Knowing the exact amount of money being saved by participating communities would need to be considered along with the pros and cons of shared services or buildings.

One area which I feel should be looked at is garbage removal and recycling. If elected, I would like to review this area of the budget and compare the cost to other communities that contract this service out. I would not eliminate the personnel, rather move them to different departments that could use the extra help.

Since the proposed elimination of the animal control portion of the budget has become an issue, I feel this could be another area that we could possibly share services with Pomfret or Fredonia. Lastly, sharing equipment used within the parks and streets departments is a way to cut costs. Routine maintenance and new purchases would be absorbed by participating communities instead of Dunkirk solely.



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