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People’s column: Voices regarding election 2019

There’s no ‘typical’ day for a mayor

Editor, OBSERVER:

At the debate on Oct. 23 we mayoral candidates were asked to describe a “typical” working day as the mayor. To be clear, in this job, there is no such thing as a “typical” day. So instead, this is generally what happens:

There are standing meetings and events that happen once a month like: Department Heads meeting, Coffee with the Mayor, meeting with reps from SUNY Fredonia, Professional Firefighters Association meeting, meeting with the executive Board of Volunteers Fire Fighters (established 2 months ago), meeting with our economic development advisor, mayor’s committee meetings and visits to the radio.

Then there are standing weekly meetings with the village attorney and with individual trustees to bring them up to speed with everything that’s going on in the village. It’s worth noting that although I have extended an invitation to all, only three trustees have chosen to attend these meetings.

At least three to four times a month there are meetings with engineering and architectural or financial companies regarding current or future projects. There are also phone calls to different departments at the state level, or the governor’s office. These meetings and phone calls are generally long.

There are daily, or almost daily, discussions with individual Department Heads, the village clerk, the treasurer, and the payroll clerk regarding day to day operations, Board meetings agendas and follow ups, and financial planning. And then, there are village residents who regularly stop by my office to either bring something to my attention or give me an opinion.

Although all of the above are somehow “normal” and part of my calendar, they can be interrupted by something unexpected like a burning clock tower, a sudden flooding, a shooting in the village, a large water main break, a window that falls from the third floor of the Village Hall to the ground.

And of course, there is the budget. The mayor, as the budget officer, is obligated to create and present to the Board of Trustees a tentative budget by March 21. The process involves long one on one meetings with the treasurer and the Department Heads as well as research and decision making.

On Jan. 1, 2016, I took an oath, to “execute the duties of the office of the mayor of the village of Fredonia, according to the best of my abilities.” To do that, I have worked full time, and sometimes more.

I remain committed to continue doing that, being the mayor, putting in the long hours, and bringing results for the village and its residents. It’s wishful thinking to believe the schedule and responsibilities of the mayor could translate to a workday that starts at 3:30.

ATHANASIA LANDIS,

mayor, Fredonia

Fredonia mayor needs another job

Editor, OBSERVER,

I watched the Fredonia mayoral debate on television on Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. I got a charge when this Mayor Athanasia Landis said she got grants. I understand Nate Aldrich, the main grant writer got the grants.

Also since the 1800s up until 2019, all the mayors who ran this small village had other jobs and our village ran excellent. If Mayor Landis is looking for a full time job, she should go and be a doctor. There is a need for doctors.

She is trying to make the mayor’s job a full-time job. As far as a hospital here across from the high school and near the new roundabout, this is the wrong location to begin with. We have a beautiful hospital in Dunkirk. If it’s too big, close up the third floor. And also, we are only approximately 30 minutes to Irving and not 45 minutes.

As far as 35 new businesses in Fredonia, who are they? I know that there are some but I can’t believe there are 35. This is a small village of approximately 10,000 people. There used to be approximately 11,000 to 12,000 people but a lot have left.

This village has run good for years, years and years. If it’s not broke, leave it alone. Also you do run this village like a business.

This mayor is all wrong, she needs to get another job not as the mayor of Fredonia.

FRANK DeJOHN,

Fredonia

Fredonia changes promote efficiency

Editor, OBSERVER:

Dale Ricker’s lack of understanding does not equate a lack of transparency by the current village of Fredonia administration.

His lack of acceptance in the changes already implemented by the village administration doesn’t mean they haven’t already been put in action. The village now has a treasurer, a finance clerk, human resources personnel and a village clerk and this staffing team along with the mayor’s day to day management is showing greater efficiency and effectiveness. The village codes and charter are being updated and upheld.

Quality department heads have been hired for greater oversight and performance and jobs are always filled with the most qualified employee available.

The village currently has working relationships with neighboring communities and is exploring further collaborative options that would be in the best interest of the village, which is who we work for. The three-minute rule during the open public portion of Village Board meetings is a commonly used practice in maintaining decorum, additionally, everyone in attendance — including my opponents — at a Village Board meeting should follow the rules of order as a matter of respect.

The public is always encouraged to contact the trustees and mayor with thoughts and concerns.

JAMES LYNDEN,

trustee, Fredonia

Few solutions come from challengers

Editor, OBSERVER:

I am a Dunkirk resident who reads newspaper articles and opinions, listened carefully at the League of Women Voters mayoral debate, and spends time in the city.

The current mayor and administration have been faulted because of the many empty buildings and lack of businesses on Central Avenue from Lake Shore Drive to Fifth Street. May I suggest the OBSERVER research and report on the owners of these vacant properties. It appears that one particular owner has purchased several of these properties and lets them sit. Is it speculation or some tax advantage? Is nothing happening because of litigation? Who knows?

Is there a solution offered by critics to deal with that situation? If a business owners chooses to retire and sell his building, the buyer can do what he wants. What solution is offered by the Critics to that dilemma?

As I recall from reading articles in the OBSERVER, the current mayor and administration wrote proposals for more than a dozen city sites for Brooks Memorial Hospital. The Brooks board were escorted to all sites and given the proposals. They chose to leave the city. Is there a solution offered by the critics? What else would the critics have done?

In my opinion, NRG reneged on promises and duped officials at all government levels — state, county and city. Realistically, NRG is never going to repower. What solutions do the critics offer?

In my opinion, the question of enhancing the lakefront, our biggest asset, or fixing our side streets is almost an unanswerable “which-came-first-chicken-or-egg” situation. Recognizing the lakefront and, in particular, the Pier as our city’s “jewel” is the smartest move for the future of the city. (I believe this began many years ago when Republican Mayor Richard Frey had the vision). The best part of our improved Pier is that it was done without using city budget funds.

Our current mayor and administration are very dedicated, focused, and hard working. Can critics promise the same day to day intensity and networking?

In summary, the mayor’s critics have not, in my opinion, offered any better alternatives or solutions. Look to the future, which is in the good hands of Mayor Wilfred Rosas and need not be saved by his challenger.

LINDA BRADIGAN,

Dunkirk

Rosas is making things happen

Editor, OBSERVER:

As the Second Ward Dunkirk Councilman running for my third term in office, I feel it is incumbent upon me to speak to the issue of who is best to lead the city of Dunkirk forward for the next four years. I know that individual to be Mayor Wilfred Rosas!

Mayor Rosas and I came into office together on Jan. 1, 2016. Since that time I have worked closely with him, and I have witnessed his dedication to the residents of the city. He has made decisions that were not always in his best interest personally, but decisions that were in the best interest of the city. We have not always agreed, but we have always worked through our differences for the betterment of Dunkirk. I have tremendous respect for Willie Rosas, and that is because I have worked alongside of him during times when the naysayers were fighting his efforts toward progress and moving Dunkirk in a positive direction.

Mayor Rosas has worked tirelessly to put the city of Dunkirk in the spotlight when it comes to securing funding for economic development, job growth and waterfront restoration and development. His communication skills and willingness to work across the aisle on the county, state and federal levels has been good for this city, and it is because of the respect that these individuals have for him that the residents of Dunkirk have benefitted.

People talk about NRG, well Mayor Rosas has taken an aggressive approach to ensuring that the potential of lost revenue through the transitional aid (if lost) will not create an unmanageable financial situation for our city. Since coming into office in 2016, Mayor Rosas has reduced the cost of the city’s health insurance premiums by $350,000 a year; the city has secured a 40-year commitment from the North County Water District that will have Dunkirk as the sole supplier of water bringing in close to $500,000 in increased revenue annually; and by working with the state Financial Restructuring Board he was able to have all of our city lights changed to LED saving the taxpayers more than $250,000 each year. Those three things alone add up to over $1 million — he has cut costs in other areas and all three funds are in the black. He has done these things while paying for the upgrades mentioned earlier with grant funding ? again not by raising taxes, water rates or sewer fees.

For those who want to talk about transparency from this administration, he welcomes questions, listens to comments, responds to his emails, takes phone calls and makes himself available for civic events, churches, community activities and certainly at City Hall.

Mayor Wilfred Rosas has laid the foundation for continued growth and economic development for the city of Dunkirk. He has my support and my vote on Nov. 5.

MARTIN BAMONTO,

councilman, Dunkirk

Dunkirk’s engine running off track

Editor, OBSERVER:

I’ve been attending the city of Dunkirk’s Common Council meetings since April of this year. For the life of me I can’t understand why the mayor of Dunkirk cannot give any credit to the people or the departments who have worked hard to make all his “dreams” come to fruition. Or for that matter what grants he himself worked hard to obtain for his “dreams.” Yet his photo appears at every ribbon cutting and his picture is plastered all over everything. What should appear is, “the City of Dunkirk.”

Ask yourself, do we have a mayor that really cares about how this city looks? Do we have a mayor that has visited every department to see and hear what improvements need to be addressed to better serve our community? Do we have a mayor that is up at the crack of dawn to drive through our city, street by street, ward by ward to actually see the terrible conditions our streets and many houses are in? His answer will be, “That’s the job of the department heads.”Really now!

Yes our mayor has often mentioned of his trips to Albany, but what he fails to mention is the fact that his brother has accompanied him. Each having separate rooms. Can we get an answer as to who is footing that bill?

When questioned about certain decisions he has made without discussions with our elected council members, he has made the statement, “I’m the mayor or I’m the CEO so I can do whatever I think is necessary.” If council members make a suggestion to him he makes the comment, “I’ll veto it.” All of this is on video. It has happened at a council meeting. OK, ask yourself “why have a council if it’s only the mayor calling all the shots? Do we need that?

Then he had personal parking signs constructed in the back parking lot behind City Hall for two city employees. Why are these signs needed? Who gave the OK to do this?

Let’s look at the purely unprofessional way the mayor handled the firing of our city’s building inspector.

And no, he did not retire as one previous letter writer stated. He was unable to retire until the issue was cleared up. So from August 2018 until May, he was not retired. You should have done your homework better. Yes, he was cleared of everything he was accused of. Where is the public apology due to him and his family for the humiliation the mayor caused them? All that was given was a half-hearted statement by the city attorney that the building inspector was retired and doing well. How would he know?

Lastly, we have a mayor that insisted that the Stearns building be purchased as the city is out of compliance. Where is the documentation stating this?

Just to let everyone know, the purchase was made after the May 1 tax exempt deadline so guess what? We have to pay the taxes for that building. Another of the mayor’s untimely purchases is the building next to the Dog Park on Main Street Extension. Yes, we have to pay the taxes on that as well.

Maybe our current mayor should read the book on how Dunkirk came to be the city it is.

Our city is being run like a runaway train. It’s time we got a new conductor.

NANCY NICHOLS,

Dunkirk

Campaign gets

dirty in Dayton

Editor, OBSERVER

In our small community your vote, or lack of your vote, could make the difference in our town of Dayton. Please, exercise your right to vote, and make sure it is an informed vote, there is a lot of misinformation and irrelevant information being spread about our candidates.

One comment being made, is that an unopposed candidate, is unfair and should not be allowed. The fact that both major parties selected the same person, suggests that this is a very good candidate, supported by the majority of people and this happens often. The people conducting a write-in campaign were defeated by their own party and failed to apply to any other party, thereby, eliminating themselves from the ballot and forcing a write-in campaign. Since launching their campaign, they have spread false and misleading information.

Tom Chupa does not intend to resign if he wins. They claim that Angie Mardino-Miller owns as many as 11 properties which are tax exempt, this is completely false. The Master’s Plan is a 501(c3) non-profit organization, consisting of four legitimate properties, that serve our community well. She does not claim her personal property as exempt, and pays taxes on them even though as part of The Master’s Plan 501(c3), she legally could claim exemptions.

There is one point that I agree with Brian Taber and David Kohler, who have claimed “No Master Plan” and I fully agree with that. They have no master plan of any kind. Our supervisor and Mr. Chupa are running to serve the community; their opponents are running to serve themselves.

Please vote the straight Republican ballot to continue to clean up our town government.

JEFFREY BEIGHTOL,

Dayton

Don’t believe all you hear in Dayton

Editor, OBSERVER:

As we watch politics sink to a new low in Washington, it’s also happening in the town of Dayton.

When political opponents cannot win by truth, policy, facts and their own merit, they resort to character assassination, lies, distortions and distractions. On a daily basis we are receiving phone calls and visits from people who have heard lies and manipulations first-hand.

Here are just a few examples:

¯ A “501(c)(3) nonprofit” gets advantages because I am town supervisor.

My response: A 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization status does not come from the town of Dayton. It also does not come from Cattaraugus County and does not come from New York state. In fact, this exemption is provided based on rigorous scrutiny from the federal government, specifically the IRS and only to organizations which have met strict and vast criteria for a period of years.

¯ We have heard different versions — The Master’s Plan owns six, eight and nine properties that are tax exempt.

My response: The Master’s Plan could own as many properties as needed to fulfill its mission, but it only owns four that do have tax exempt status. A main building is used for church, emergency housing, funeral services, weddings, baby showers, fund raisers, and many other services to benefit our community. The food pantry, which served 6,493 people in the past year, with food, clothes, furniture, appliances, and other daily essentials. The storage building, which allows The Master’s Plan to receive donations and distribute items out of the building to those who need them. A local family donated a property with a single-family house that many volunteers repaired and rehabbed for families in need of temporary assistance. It should also be noted that three of these properties were eyesores and in complete disrepair when they were taken over by The Master’s Plan. The Master’s Plan has taken these properties and transformed them into buildings which have served and uplifted our neighbors and friends in need. In fact, the first building was bought at auction for $10,000 and took ten years to repair and rehabilitate to be able to serve as it does today.

¯ Tom Chupa is not going to keep the highway superintendent position if he is elected, and the plan is to appoint this position to a family member.

My response: Chupa has vowed to finish his term and to serve the public for two full years, and he will do exactly that. In fact, he honorably served as a public servant for the town of Dayton in various capacities for 20 years fulfilling each of the terms for which he was elected.

¯ I am somehow profiting off from The Master’s Plan.

My response: I have only given to The Master’s Plan of my time, money, talents, and passion to better our community. In fact, since The Master’s Plan began in 2006, neither I nor anyone has collected a wage from this ministry. Other churches pay their clergy and staff, we all volunteer our time and talents to be of service to the community. We have done this without complaint for the last 13 years. Never has our organization been attacked this unjustly until I was elected supervisor.

ANGIE MARDINO-MILLER,

supervisor, town of Dayton

Arkwright slate

has some conflicts

Editor, OBSERVER:

The OBSERVER had a press release from the Arkwright Advocates Party stating that their candidates are running on a platform of open communication, transparency and fiscal integrity without conflicts of interest.

The current administration of the town of Arkwright has lived up to all of these standards. Board meetings are open to all residents, phone lines and e-mail addresses are available to the public and the board has run the board meetings with periods of time allowing the public to address the board with their concerns and opinions and comments.

The current board has operated with fiscal integrity within the parameters of the established budget. The current board acknowledges that one board member has conflicts of interest regarding matters concerning the wind development project, but he has been faithful in recusing himself from discussions and votes regarding wind issues and decisions the board has had to make regarding those issues.

Regarding conflicts of interest, the Arkwright Advocates candidates are co-plaintiffs in a current lawsuit against anyone that had any involvement in the development of the Arkwright Wind Farm.

This isn’t a conflict?

If they are all elected, they and the one current board member would all have to recuse themselves, leaving only one board member able to vote on issues thereby hamstringing the town board making it unable to act.

LARRY BALL,

councilman, Arkwright

Sharing benefits

village, Pomfret

Editor, OBSERVER:

Our Nov. 5 election will give us the chance to elect a number of people to state, county, town and village positions that can have a positive or negative effect on life here in our area. That is why I chose to run for the position of supervisor for the town of Pomfret.

With an extensive background in accounting, finance and administration in public accounting, private business and in municipal settings, I feel that I am positioned to lead the town of Pomfret forward. Throughout my career I have assumed many different roles and grown personally and professionally because of the varied experiences.

In almost 30 years as a school administrator in public schools and at the Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattraugus BOCES, I have successfully sought and found ways for school districts to collaborate and save money through shared bidding and purchasing, allowing valuable resources to be spent for classroom instruction rather than employee benefits, utilities and professional service fees.

These experiences make me well positioned to bring this same experience and expertise to the town of Pomfret and its neighboring communities for the benefit of area taxpayers. As a member of the Pomfret Planning Board for approximately 15 years, I have worked on several large projects including the development of the town’s current Comprehensive/Agricultural Protection Plan. The Planning Board has begun work to update that plan, and has approached the Planning Board from the village of Fredonia to try to include them in our process. It makes no sense for either planning board to develop a long-range plan without engaging the other – we should collaborate with each other, not compete with each other. I am happy to say that we’ve had a couple of very positive meetings, and we look to move the process forward after the first of the year.

This is just one example of ways that we can work together. Mayor Athanasia Landis and I have met several times and have discussed ideas that we each have for the village of Fredonia and the town of Pomfret.

I am excited that if the voters give us the chance, we could work together for the betterment of our community. We have ideas for grant funding opportunities to help pay for infrastructure and community betterment projects. Submitting grant applications that evidence collaboration with our municipalities often times receive more points or higher ratings in the grant approval and award process. This will in turn translate into more improvements in our communities, with the least impact to our taxpayers. We have many infrastructure needs including replacing aging water lines and expanding the availability of municipal water to town residents. It is my hope that grant funding can help fund at least a portion of the costs associated with that needed work, and help to improve the quality of life for our residents.

The Early Voting process and the casting votes on Election Day provides our voters with the opportunity to make a choice. They can choose to move forward, or to stay put. It is my hope that they place their trust in people who will move our communities forward, and that they include me in that choice.

DANIEL W. PACOS,

Pomfret

Mayor communicates, gets things done

Editor, OBSERVER:

In today’s political climate, anything goes. Our country’s administration is predictably unpredictable and the next presidential election is sure to be tense. Comparatively speaking, the village of Fredonia has experienced relative calm in its politics. Much of this is due to the successes of our mayor, Athanasia Landis.

Before becoming mayor, Landis enjoyed a successful career as a medical doctor. Eventually, she put this career on hold to raise her five children. Ultimately, it was her children who inspired her to run for mayor; she wanted a better world for them. We all do. But how many of us actually step forward and truly try to make an impact? Athanasia Landis did. She ran for mayor. Once elected, she opted out of a return to medicine and chose to devote herself full time to the village of Fredonia and its residents.

Our mayor has worked tirelessly to bring millions of dollars in grants to the village to help with much needed economic stability. These grants have provided improvements to the village’s infrastructure, including emergency waterline pipe replacement, upgrades at the water filtration plant and wastewater treatment facility, water leak detection and drainage issues, and necessary upgrades to the police station, fire hall and Village Hall.

There are downtown revitalization projects underway and more planned for the future. Additionally, the mayor is working diligently on several anchor projects including a new hospital, the purchase of the former Cliffstar property by Agri-America, a plan to reopen the White Inn, improvements to the 1891 Opera House, and the redevelopment of the old Card Seed building, purchased by Ted Sharon, into an entertainment center for the arts. The mayor has worked hard at cultivating strong relationships with SUNY Fredonia and the city of Dunkirk to create harmonious alliances as well as increase the academic and economic potential of our Western New York communities.

In terms of her relationship with the village residents, the mayor has found innovative ways to include the community in the workings of the local government: she began live-streaming the board meetings and introduced a monthly “Coffee with the Mayor” event, which is open to the public. Trustees Michael Barris and James Lynden spend time with the mayor each week discussing current concerns and projects. Lynden has proven to be a dependable, hard-working, and knowledgeable trustee. The mayor has offered to meet with each trustee regularly in order to keep the lines of communication open.

All physicians, upon beginning their careers, must take the Hippocratic Oath. It states, in part, “I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.” Our mayor has acted upon these words both in medicine as well as government. Her commitment is to the health and happiness of the people of Fredonia and the continued development of a stable economy.

MELISSA LEFFEL,

Fredonia

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