Republican voters in Yates County Legislature Districts 1, 2, and 3 will decide which individuals will be listed on the Republican line for the November General Election when they go to the polls Sept. 12 for the Republican Primary.

In District 1 (four seats representing Jerusalem, Italy, and Middlesex), incumbents Douglas Paddock, Ed Bronson and Elden Morrison will be challenged by Tim Cutler and Patrick Killen.

In District 2 (three seats representing Potter, Benton, and Torrey), incumbents Timothy Dennis, James Smith, and Terry Button are being challenged by former legislator Richard Willson.

In District 3 (four seats representing Milo), incumbents Leslie Church, Mark Morris, Daniel Banach, and P. Earle Gleason are being challenged by Carlene Chilson.

Information about the background of each and a statement about the individual’s priorities for Yates County follows.

District 1

Tim Cutler

Background: Retired; currently an Adjunct Instructor at Keuka College, Chair the Town of Jerusalem Planning Board; recently appointed to the Board of Directors of the Keuka Lake Association. Holds a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin; Worked as Manager/Director at Eastman Kodak, ITT Corp and Exelis Inc. for many years.

Statement: “My intent is to serve the community in a way that helps county government address issues that are important to the people of Yates County. One major goal I have is to improve the effectiveness of the legislature with faster and better decision making. I have a great deal of experience in managing and delivering large, complex projects on schedule and on budget, as well as managing large organizational budgets. I also have a great deal of experience leading diverse groups of people in achieving common goals. Helping to reconcile different points of view in a constructive and respectful manner is a skill for which I’m known. Working as Interim County Planner over the last few years gave me significant insight and experience in working with the County Legislators to address difficult county matters. My fresh outlook has been well respected by Legislators and County Leadership.

For more information: email tpcutler@msn.com, phone: 585-414-0539; Facebook page: Tim Cutler for Yates County Legislator 

Patrick Killen

Background: Prattsburg Central High School; Keuka College-Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice; Master of Science in Management; 26 years as Yates County Deputy Sheriff, including various duties; Town of Jerusalem Councilman (two years); Town of Jerusalem Supervisor (3.5 years); substitute teacher for Prattsburgh, Penn Yan, and Dundee Schools; KWIK subcommittee chairman on Starry stonewort committee; Former Assistant Scoutmaster, BSA; member of Knights of Columbus, Moose, Elks, Sons of the American Legion; Married to Dr. Anne Killen, vice president of Academic Affairs at New York Chiropractic College; two children: Marykate, 20, senior at St Bonaventure College; Danny 10, 5th grader St Michael School.

Statement: “I am a fiscal conservative who has worked to find savings for the Town of Jerusalem in many areas, for example: reviewing Time Warner (Charter Communications) contract and seeking removal of a clause that changed how a fee was calculated, increasing revenue by up to $1,900 annually, seeking NYS Dept. of Health approval to reduce automatic mailing of water quality testing to customers by placing information on a website and advising customers with a note on their bill, thus saving labor, printing and postage of about $1,800 annually, finding a new IT provider eliminating a large monthly maintenance charge and reducing labor rate by 40 percent and by negotiating a resolution of a decade long contract dispute with the Village of Penn Yan, reducing sewage treatment costs by 6 percent annually, which over the 20-year remainder of the contract even without figuring inflation, can save close to $1.2 million. We have kept the Jerusalem tax rate at or below a 2 percent annual increase and been able to maintain health benefits and reasonable raises for employees. If I am elected as a Yates County Legislator for District 1, I will seek to provide service to the community, while working to control costs to taxpayers.”

Ed Bronson

Background: Retired Penn Yan Elementary School Principal who taught middle school science for 21 years, served six years as assistant principal, then five years as principal; Associates degree from Corning Community College, Bachelor’s degree in Biology from SUNY Geneseo, Master’s degree in Education from SUNY Geneseo, School Administrator’s degree from SUNY Brockport; completing first term as a county legislator. I have learned a lot about the operation of the county.

Statement: “My priorities for Yates County are monitoring the county budget, maintaining county roads and bridges, and completing the National Institute of Corrections study of Yates County jail.”

Douglas Paddock

Background: Has lived in District 1 his entire life except when in college; Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology; Licensed Professional Engineer in NYS; Retired from ITT Corporation/Goulds Pumps, Inc. as Director, New Product Development after 40+ years of continuous employment; County Legislator for many years; former chair of Human Services Committee, currently Finance Committee chair, Vice-Chair of Legislature

Statement: “Mission and Vision statements and Core Values were created by the Legislature earlier this year. Using these as guiding principles, I’d like to continue the solid financial position and sound fiscal policies that have been realized over the past years. The county should also explore support of entities that promote and buttress the mission and vision statements. Changes at the federal and state levels impact county budgets (e.g. – increased indigent legal defense, Raise the Age, etc.). Decisions need to be made with a view to the future and the long term interests of the county, and should not be driven by immediacy or political convenience.

“Organizations benefit from both new members and those with experience. I offer relevant experience and am willing to work with those who bring differing perspectives. Throughout my professional career, I held multiple positions of increasing responsibility having significant financial impact. That experience is relevant to county operations. I am also very familiar with demands made on the county by the state and federal governments and with county departments, legislative committees, operations of the county, and creation of county laws.”

For more information: email doug5591@verizon.net; 315-536-8343; 2812 Wager Hill Road, Penn Yan.

Elden Morrison

Background: Retired Xerox employee originally elected to the Yates County Legislature in 2013. “I and my ancestors have had a continuous presence in the Town of Jerusalem for well over 100 years. When I first ran for office in 2013 I promised the taxpayers that if elected I would give them a more prominent seat at the table.”

Statement: “Yates County has a year round population of 25,000 and a shoreline on Keuka, Canandaigua, and Seneca Lakes totaling over 65 miles. We do not have a revenue problem. Organic growth (new construction, etc.) in the tax base should be more than sufficient to fund county operations for the indefinite future. The challenge for the legislature is to allocate existing resources more efficiently including, when possible, a lowering of the tax rate. In budget year 2017, acting on a motion by me, $200,000 was taken from excess reserves and used to reduce the tax rate.

“A recent study from the NYS Association of Counties showed that Yates County was spending nearly 80 percent more on a per capita basis for Public Safety than was the average NYS county. Such a huge disparity cannot be justified. Yates County is not Baltimore or Chicago. Our Public Safety budget (including pensions) is over $11 million per year, thus a one percent budgetary reduction would free up $110,000 for such things as public spaces, workforce development, public health, and tax relief. Public Safety is certainly a core responsibility of county government, but when the PS budget is running at about 80 percent above the statewide average I don’t think a modest reduction is likely to put our citizens at risk. I ask for your support and if re-elected two of my top priorities will continue to be transparency and fiscal responsibility.”

District II

Timothy Dennis

Background: Chairman Yates County Legislature; graduate,Cornell University, Doctor Veterinary Medicine; wife, Dawn; two adult children; retired from Eastview Veterinary Clinic in Penn Yan after 45 years of practice; owns and operates a livestock farm in Yates County for 40 years; Served nine years on Penn Yan Central School Board of Education, including four years as vice president; finance chair, treasurer and chair of board for Benton Center Methodist Church; served on board of directors Cornell Cooperative Extension Yates County; member, NYSAC Task Force on the Future of Farming in NY.

Served on Yates County Legislature since 2008. Including four years as Chair of Finance Committee; served four years on Board of Directors of Yates County IDA; Chairman of Yates County Legislature since 2014.

Statement: “In addition to the above biographical information, my experience on the legislature has included in-depth participation in the conclusion of the transfer of the Penn Yan Marine property, the construction and operation of over 70 miles of dark fiber in an open access network throughout Yates County, and the negotiation of several labor agreements that were fair to our employees and the taxpayers. During the last four years we have been in compliance with the New York State property tax cap. We have established a tax stabilization reserve fund, which can be used to cushion large swings in the property tax levy.

“Going forward, the legislature has established mission and vision statements for county government. I fully support them. Within that framework, my priorities center around economic development, job creation, improving our ‘quality of life’ opportunities and preserving the quality of our environment.”

Terry Button

Background: Graduate of Marcus Whitman Central School, Morrisville Agricultural & Technical College, and University of Tennessee. Business owner for 37 years (Terry L. Button Farms), the fifth generation on the farm since 1872. Serves on Human Services and Public Works Committees, and is the legislative representative to the Flint Creek Committee.

Statement: “I have learned a lot in my first term. In Yates County we have many opportunities. We have good department heads and employees. We’re doing well because it’s a destination place. My priorities are to continue to do the best I can for people of Potter, Torrey, Benton and Yates County. As a farmer, conservationist and environmentalist, protecting our water and soil is a priority. I encourage people to ask questions and have discussions because we need to keep moving Yates County and our people forward.

Richard Willson

Background: 1968 graduate of Penn Yan Academy; B.S. in Resource Management – SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry; Licensed Land Surveyor; Founded Willson & Associates Land Surveyors; previously served as District II legislator from 2008 to 2012.

Statement: “We have two daughters and two grandsons. We have been blessed to have them all move back into the county. Having them home has reminded me that I have a responsibility to preserve the things that are wonderful about this county and pursue those things that will improve the quality of life for them.

“Issues that I see as needing Immediate attention: 1. Opiod Epidemic (solving this is critical.) 2. Job, jobs and good jobs to be able to feed a family and live a stable life. 3. Job training to meet business needs. 4. Agriculture and its future in the area. Finding viable markets and marketable products. 5. Maintaining good agricultural practices. 6. Water quality in both the aquifer and in the lakes, including threats from pesticides, fertilizer, manure, hormones and prescription drugs. 7. Employee retention throughout county government. 8. Balancing land owner’s rights vs. restrictive zoning and rules. 9. Working with businesses to provide good jobs and protect the environment. 10. Doing everything necessary to help our communities in raising stable, healthy, happy, educated young citizens.

“I am not an environmentalist tree hugger, I am by nature and education a conservationist. I have a high regard for finding solutions through engineering and common sense. I am no fan of solar or wind farms, however I will defend your right to build them. I will fight to educate people about invasive species but refuse to create restrictive rules and laws. I am my nature conservative. I believe that democracy requires discipline and cooperation. I believe in common sense, science and good engineering solutions. I believe in global environmental changes (not manmade), but I also believe in sound environmental practices.

As I write this a headline from a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics comes to mind: “Americans pay more in taxes than they spend on food and clothing together.” That is a terrible statistic. We must work to restrict the growth of government, while filling the needs of our citizens and our employees. My family’s roots are embedded in the bed rock of Yates County. Centuries of Willsons, Tinneys, Andrews, Wagners, Smiths and a host of others have gone before me. I hope to have the opportunity to hand my daughters and grandchildren a great future in Yates County, New York.”

Jim Smith

Background: resident of the Town of Torrey; Yates County Legislator since 2014 representing Benton, Potter and Torrey. I am self-employed, and have a background in engineering and business. My grandmother, Agnes Smith was a local schoolteacher in Torrey for many years. My father, Arthur “Eddie” Smith was Salutatorian of the 1940 class at Penn Yan Academy. My cousins own and operate Serenity Vineyards. My family has been part of the fabric of Yates County for generations, living, working and enjoying this beautiful place we call home.

Statement: “As a Yates County Legislator, I have been on the Human Services and Government Operations Committees and am now serving as Vice Chairman of the Finance Committee. My priorities when I first ran for legislator included seeing the Greenidge Power Plant come back online, the Yates County fiber optic network be completed, and the Penn Yan Marine Project started. I also felt it was important to maintain key services, to improve organizationally and to minimize the tax burden. These have been realized, and we have stayed below the tax cap every year since I have been in office.

“Looking ahead it is important that we be vigilant in preserving and protecting the awesome natural resources of Yates County, the Finger Lakes and their watersheds, which are the underlying backbone of what makes Yates County unique and attractive to residents and visitors alike. It is also important that we strategically invest in essential infrastructure to enable Yates County to continue to be attractive in an ever more technology-driven and competitive environment. The balance between staying current with the world while preserving that which makes Yates County such a special place is our biggest challenge.”

District III

Carlene Chilson

Background: BS, MS degrees in Occupational Science/Occupational Therapy from Keuka College and Associates degrees in Human Services and Chemical Dependency Counseling from Finger Lakes Community College. Yates County resident for 21 years; home-care occupational therapist.

Statement: “As a fiscal conservative, the knowledge and experience of reducing the cost of my household expenses allowed me to go through college and to work hard to support my family. Recently, our family started a family business on our organically grown berry farm. We enjoy hard work, and joyfully except difficult challenges. I would appreciate the opportunity, as Milo legislator, to bring this disciplined position to our legislature. To lead in the development and business expansion programs to bring growth and development to our community. By providing job opportunities to keep our youth here after they graduate from our schools and colleges and keep them away from opioid use, abuse and destruction.

“The elderly and those with fixed incomes are asked to continue to reduce their quality of life to meet the burden of taxes in our county. As Yates County legislators plan to build a bigger, two-story jail, where does this money come from? Recognizing a portion of our community consists of God-fearing Mennonites, where will these additional prisoners come from? We as a community need to maintain and improve what we have, not build a bigger and better jail, resulting in inheriting other county’s problems.

Many of our families have already been impacted by opioid use, abuse, and destruction and many are struggling with poverty. Attention to economic health will provide a better life for our community and help our families avoid a life of drug use, abuse, and destruction. We need to focus on increasing tax revenue through education, job creation and business expansion, and steer clear away from trying to make potential money from the evils of this world. It is time to have meetings in the evening so our community can attend. This will allow transparency to our community so we can have direct, clear information about how our money is spent, future development plans and where the biggest increases are in our budget. 

Daniel W. Banach

Background: Milo has been my home for all my life. 1963 Penn Yan Academy graduate; attended Willamsport Tech and R.I.T.

Statement: “I’m running again to finish some of the things we have started in the legislature. The main thing is the Public Safety Building. We have a building that is 40 years old and getting older every day. Do we put money into it, build new or combine with another county to house our prisoners? These are some of the things we have to consider. I also believe in protecting and improving the quality of life that we have in Yates County, it is good now and I want to make it better. 

Leslie Church

Background: Town of Milo resident for 19 years; currently employed by Westfield Aviation (corporate secretary) as well as serving as Yates County Legislator (6 years) and Town of Milo Supervisor (6 years); prior service on the Milo planning board for 6 years.

Statement: Building on my experience I would like to continue working hard and getting results, making your government both efficient and effective.

• Holding the line on spending and keeping taxes as low as possible.

• Working with businesses to either expand or locate in the Town.

• Worked to obtained grants for water district improvements, and finding water and sewer efficiencies through regional cooperation efforts and planning.

• Work to expand broadband and high speed internet connectivity to under served areas in the Town and County.

What sets me apart from other candidates is my experience serving as both the Town of Milo as Town Supervisor and Yates County Legislator. This is a benefit to working on issues which effect both such as tax collection and property assessment, public safety, infrastructure, and economic development to name a few which all effect our quality of life in Yates County.

P. Earle Gleason

Background: life-long resident of Yates County; 1965 Penn Yan Academy graduate; Associate’s Degree from Rochester Business Institute; served in the U.S. Army 1968-1969; 12-month tour in Vietnam; the American Legion on many levels; VFW; Moose; Lions; work experience at Seneca Foods Corp.; Town of Milo Highway Dept.; Fitch Oil Co.; Co-Owner Gleason and Clancy Men’s Wear; Yates County Director of Veterans Service Agency; Retired in December 2014; 24 years on Milo Town Board; two years Yates County Legislature

Statement: “My priorities are to continue to provide and maintain the highest level of services to the residents of Yates County while being fiscally responsible to them as well.” 

Mark Morris

Background: Current Yates County Legislator serving on Government Operations (Chair), Finance, Finger Lakes Economic Development Council (FLEDC), Western New York Intercounty, and Audit committees; Vice President, Keuka Lake Association; Member of SCOPE, Chamber of Commerce, Penn Yan Elks, Farm Bureau, and Lake Keuka Community Baptist Church; retired engineer, project manager, and manager from Kodak; extensive experience leading groups to do more with less using proven business methods. MS Degrees in Engineering & Business Administration from University of Rochester. Professional certifications in engineering, project management, and quality management. Milo property owner since 1998. Full time resident since 2007. Third generation Finger Lakes property owner in Wayne.

Statement: “As a lifelong fiscal conservative, I believe:

• That the cost of our county government should not grow faster than the rate of inflation. 

• That my real-life experience successfully reducing costs in private sector businesses can be used to benefit the county. 

• That good leaders challenge the status quo, vs. just going along.

• That it’s the county and other local government officials’ responsibility to actively push back on New York State high costs and mandates. 

Priorities for Yates County:

• Continue implementation of Yates County strategic plan, which will help cause more improvement and resource reallocation in Yates County.

• Continue to support economic development activities — FLEDC, fiber, sales tax sharing, recreational activities.

• Continue to advocate for data and fact-driven fiscally conservative solutions to our biggest issues.