Editor's note: This is part one in a series of three stories on Tuesday's League of Women Voters political office candidates debates in Fredonia.
Two councilman seats are up for grabs on the Pomfret Town Board in this year's election, and two of the three candidates vying for those seats had the chance to debate one another Tuesday night in the Fredonia Village Hall.
As part of a series of debates sponsored by the League of Women Voters, Democrat Brett Christy and Republican John Sedota were both able to give their cases for why voters should elect them to the town board. The third candidate, Christopher Schaeffer, was not present for the debate.
OBSERVER Photo by Greg Fox
Brett Christy (left) and John Sedota debate Tuesday night as part of a series of debates sponsored by the League of Women Voters. Christy, Sedota and Christopher Schaeffer, who was not present, are vying for two councilman seats on the Pomfret Town Board.
For the most part, Christy and Sedota echoed each other's views on various topics, including consolidation between the village and the town.
"For me to support consolidation, I'd have to be convinced that it would actually save some money and without the services being compromised," Sedota said. "It must be beneficial and would depend on the proposal. I'd ask tough questions on it before I would support it."
"One: Is it going to save the taxpayers money annually? Two: Is it going to save jobs? And three: Does it make sense to gain services for everybody involved?" Christy said. "None of us want to lose services, whether it be street maintenance or anything. You've got to continue to beef up services for residents."
The candidates were also asked about the North End Water District project.
"I believe it's proceeding very well. We're close to 90 percent done without too many expenditures digging into that slush money that was set aside for unforeseen things," Christy said.
"The more people we can get hooked up to public water, the better," he added.
Sedota agreed with Christy's statement.
The topic of the Chadwick Bay's Northern Chautauqua County Regional Water District also came up. Fredonia declined to participate in the project due to the potential loss of its water treatment plant.
"My feelings about creating a (water) authority ... My understanding is they would actually raise the water rate in Fredonia by about $1.62 per thousand gallons, so unless somebody can convince me otherwise, I don't believe that is something I would support," Sedota said. "Authorities generally have unelected officials or political appointees in charge and I believe that should be done by elected officials."
"I would agree with that. I think we have to have it managed by government officials, definitely," Christy said.
Sedota and Christy also addressed the meaning of party affiliation at the local level.
"I believe we have to work together to solve the financial issues, service issues, I think when we do work together, any group of people can gain good things," Christy said.
"I think a lot of it comes down to issues other than what the party is supposed to stand for," Sedota said. "Republicans and Democrats should be able to work together. However, I think sometimes party politics can get in the way of accomplishing work that has to be done (at the local level) ... and, if I'm elected, I will reach across the aisle and work with the other party."
Both candidates stressed their motivations for running were to reduce taxes.
"I believe we have excessive taxes and I believe my experience working with the county is something I can use to help try and rein in the tax burden. I'm currently a treasurer ... so I do have experience with financial reports and such," Sedota said.
Christy agreed with Sedota.
"None of us around here like to pay taxes and we can all agree we pay too many taxes," Christy said. "I want to work with local governments to look at how we can possibly reduce those taxes locally that we have the ability to work with."
The current holders of the town board seats up for grabs on Election Day (Tuesday) are Patricia Lynch Christina (I) and David Penharlow (C).
To view the Pomfret Town Board debate in its entirety, as well as the debates for county executive, county clerk and legislative districts 3, 4 and 5 that were all held on the same night, tune in to Public Access Channel 5 in Fredonia on Wednesday, Friday or Saturday, all at 7 p.m. You can also go to the channel's YouTube website at www.youtube.com/user/Access5Fredonia.
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