Susan Forrester-Mackay recently announced her candidacy in the 2013 election for Village of Fredonia Trustee. Forrester-Mackay served two terms as village trustee from 2003 to 2011. She has been endorsed by the Democrat and Independence parties.
Mackay stated she recognizes the frustration of continuing to be proactive in an economic crisis situation and that it causes people to be less effective.
"I am relentless (some say) in my dedication to the vitality of the Village of Fredonia. I understand that budget constraints have caused a narrowing of focus for many municipalities. It will take "a village" - all of us - to unite with a plan for the way we were and want to be. Quality of life goes beyond 'services.' We need to stop the downward spiral, fix up our neighborhoods, and keep our young professionals helping them support themselves and a family. I am a small business owner. I have always been in favor of an outside collaboration of business owners, the college and the village government to create a plan and move on it. It's called 'local development.' If it takes the leadership of the mayor and trustees to facilitate this - I want you to know that I'm ready once again. I've had my two years off", Mackay said laughing. "I have the energy, time, expertise and a plan. But I need your help; the election is Monday, March 11th."
Mackay is a graduate of Dunkirk High School and received her bachelor of arts in elementary education from the State University of Fredonia. She continued her education and received a bachelor of arts from the University of Arizona in social sciences and her master's in behavioral science from the University of Virginia. Mackay has, also, done graduate work in public administration. She has a nearly 30-year professional career in social service venues at state, national and international levels, receiving numerous awards and honors for her work.
Mackay returned to Fredonia in 1994 with her family when her husband retired from the Department of Defense. She, again, reclaimed Fredonia as her "hometown."
Mackay immersed herself in community life, first by revitalizing the D & F Community Players Theatre Group, then working at and volunteering for the Fredonia Opera House and Adams Art Gallery. Recognizing the need for tourism revenue and community pride, she started and incorporated the organization known as "Festivals Fredonia" and served as Chairperson for 12-plus years. The organization brought thousands of visitors to Fredonia and served as a model for other communities. Mackay has twice received the Chamber of Commerce "Community Service Award."
In 2003, Mackay was elected to the Fredonia Board of Trustees. She served as liaison for eight years to the Planning and Zoning Boards, spearheading the revision and update of the Comprehensive Plan. Mackay helped rewrite zoning ordinances including the ordinance to allow "outdoor cafe" permits for local restaurants. She initiated development of the Village website and the development of a tourism video as the Cable Board liaison. She researched local business needs for Main Street Grants and secured a $50,000 local community development grant from the Village for Main Street businesses to eliminate building problems.
Mackay continued to learn all she could about municipal government by attending Main Street, Municipal Law, Marketing, Planning and Zoning, and Municipal Planning Conferences, sometimes at her own expense. During her tenure, she procured numerous grants successfully enabling the Village to enhance the Farmers' Market for four consecutive years, complete street repairs, update and rewrite the Village's Comprehensive Plan, revitalize Russell Joy Park to include a nature trail, and complete an inventory and maintenance plan for Village trees. These grants were directly related to existing problems and never encumbered additional years of revenue from the Village. She fought to bring more County "Occupancy Tax" dollars and recognition to the North County area.
At her own expense, Mackay took on the challenge of visiting similar cities and villages across the country to talk with municipal managers to learn how they changed their economically stressed situations. Time and again, tourism was used to greatly supplement and revitalize the community. When factories left or hurricanes hit - tourism and the creative small business entrepreneurs were sought out. As a result, Mackay took the idea of an arts incubator to SUNY Fredonia. There is now collaboration between the North Shore Arts Alliance, Inc. (an organization of local artists which Mackay helped found) and the SUNY Business Technology Center in Dunkirk to assist artists with the business of being an artist. "This is a small beginning to encourage one segment of small business-but it's a start," Mackay said.
Mackay was also liaison to the Chadwick Bay Consortium, Faculty and Community Empowerment with SUNY Fredonia, the Farmers' Market and part of numerous collaborative efforts such as SUNY Sustainable Fredonia -bringing Arbor Day celebrations and recycling efforts to Fredonia. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors for Chautauqua Opportunities, Inc. and acts as their liaison to the Policy Council for Early Childhood Education. She is a member of the Board of Directors for North Shore Arts Alliance, Inc.
She would like to ask for your support to continue her proactive momentum and remind Village of Fredonia voters that the election is March 11 at Wheelock Elementary School on Chestnut Street in Fredonia.