In the summer of 2011, Dunkirk newcomer and candidate for Common Council Stephanie Kiyak was a breath of fresh air. She talked about having a transparent government while serving as a watchdog for residents. For the most part as councilwoman at-large, she has lived up to those expectations.
When it comes to talking regionalism, however, she has become almost as territorial as neighboring Fredonia. Consider this statement she made to this newspaper two years ago regarding the division between the village and city:
"I don't understand the fractured thinking between Dunkirk and Fredonia. The old thinking needs to go away in all respects. ... (Dunkirk) is going to be doing a Garden Walk and I asked about participation with Fredonia. (The response was), 'Oh, they can do their own thing.'
Territorial Stephanie Kiyak now understands “the fractured thinking between Dunkirk and Fredonia.”
"I couldn't believe it.
"We're too small for this ... Fredonia is too small for us not to be in a comprehensive grouping. ... In South Florida, there's 13 million people. Our two communities have 24,000 and we can't get along?
Her mind-set, however, has taken a dramatic turn. Kiyak, who once lived in South Florida, has gone a little overboard when it comes to protecting Dunkirk's turf.
As councilwoman at-large, we anticipated her assisting Mayor Anthony J. Dolce in leading the charge for the Chadwick Bay Regional Development Corp. and its water district plans so this area can make some type of progress in looking as though we are ready to work together in the 21st century. Her response - after an authority with a board of 11 members was proposed at the last Chadwick Bay meeting - was overwhelmingly disappointing.
"Until I know what the details are and say 'yes, this makes sense for the rate users and the taxpayers of Dunkirk to be a part of your plan,' there's no way I'm going to consider creating a board that is going to oversee what that plan is going to be," she said.
But when it comes to regionalism, there has to be sacrifices from all those involved. Some of those sacrifices are not fair and some of those sacrifices can hinder revenues.
Without a sacrifice, however, there can never be progress.
We may have expected others on council to fight the sacrifice, but not Kiyak. She said two years ago while running for council that the region is "too small" for these battles over identities.
With her vocal opposition, she is now part of the territorial problem she so despised when running for office. What a shame.