Several share their ideas at Meet the Candidates event

Gwen Chamberlain
District III Legislator and District I Legislator talk with Susan Close of the Town of Jerusalem.

More than 50 people turned out Sunday, Oct. 18 to hear candidates for various offices offer an argument for votes in the Nov. 3 general election.

Most of the candidates for Yates County Legislature participated and were joined by Jason Cook and Ed Brockman, candidates for District Attorney and Tom Close, a candidate for the Jerusalem Town Board.

The event, held at Milly’s Pantry and the Pinwheel Market, was organized by Yates County Progressives.

While most of the candidates offered a straight-forward statement for their candidacy, Democrat Deb Flood (District III) drew a comparison between her role on the otherwise all Republican legislature as “the spice in the pot of chili.”

“I always speak my mind... I understand what it means to work together,” she said, and then added, “I promise I will give them all the grief I can.”

Flood’s comments were followed by one of her Republican challengers, newcomer Pat Galvin, who carried on the quips saying, “Somebody once asked, ‘where’s the beef?’ Well, I’ve got some beef.”

Galvin, a former Penn Yan Village Trustee, then turned more serious, saying he supports consolidation of services. He talked about what he calls “overkill” in having law enforcement coverage on three levels: Penn Yan Village, Yates County Sheriff and New York State Police. He said he vows to work with the six other new candidates to make changes in county government.

Galvin and several other challengers are joined together in a group called Candidates Against Spending and Taxation (C.A.S.T.).

Another C.A.S.T. newcomer challenging for a seat from District III, Mark Morris, said he wasn’t interested in running for a county position until he looked at information about Yates County’s budget provided through a state-managed website called Openbook.

Morris said he supports intelligently reducing costs, but he is not in favor of wholesale staff cuts.

Dan Banach, an incumbent from District III, said he’s running because he loves his community. “We (the county) do a lot of things for a lot of people and there are problems, but we confront them every day.” He said he’d like to see more people turn out for county committee and legislative meetings.

The other District III candidate, Robert Nielsen, did not participate.

All the District I candidates, including one write-in candidate - participated in the event.

Incumbents Donna Alexander, Robert Multer, Douglas Paddock and Taylor Fitch each talked about their experience on the legislature.

Multer, who has been chairman of the legislature since 1994, talked about the big picture of managing Yates County. “It goes beyond cutting taxes and budgets,” he said, reminding the audience the county is responsible for public safety, public health, environment, social services and more. He said, “Taxes aren’t paid per capita. It’s more important to focus on the community and strike a balance and keep tax rates as low as possible.”

Paddock said the incumbents’ experience allows them to ask key questions and bore deeper under the surface of issues. He said his engineering background will allow an opportunity to ask more questions regarding natural gas exploration in Marcellus shale.

Fitch said he wants to continue serving because he loves Yates County. He said he waited to run for office until he sold his business so he could devote himself to the tasks of the government, and his key interests lie in economic development. “I want to see controlled growth,” he said, adding that after he took office nearly eight years ago, he was surprised at how well Yates County is run as a business. “There is not a lot of waste in Yates County government. Yes, there are things we can cut, but that depends on what services you want to cut,” he said.

Challenger Mary St. George said she felt compelled to run for office because she does feel there is a need to cut back. She said it seems the money that was spent to build the new garage next to the county courthouse building might have been well spent on helping to feed hungry people.

Challenger Dennis Race said his experience in local and statewide conservation groups will help him in a county position.

Steve D’Amico, whose name will not appear on the ballot, is seeking write-in votes in District I. He said during his campaigning, he’s been pleased to hear all the comments and questions about the county. He said if he’s elected, he would relinquish some of the salary and benefits. He said he feels the legislator’s salary is too high. He said he’s concerned about people who are having trouble paying their property taxes. “Write me in and I’ll do what I can to help you stay in Yates County.”

District II candidates Timothy Dennis, Donald House and Rick Willson, all incumbents participated, but Independent candidate Dale Lane did not.

Dennis said, “If you want change, I am change.” Dennis, who is completing his first term, said he is the only farmer on the board and that he considers himself to be very conservative.

House, a retired farmer, said he is very concerned about spending. “But we need to be aware of the services we provide,” he added.

Willson said his experience as a licensed land surveyor is helpful in land development issues and infrastructure.

Cook and Brockman both outlined their qualifications for the District Attorney post. Cook is running on the Republican Line and Brockman is an Independent.

Close described his experience working on the Town of Jerusalem’s subdivision committee. He said he is a fiscal conservative and he wants to develop a town conservation board.

District I Legislative Candidate Mary St. George talks with voters at the Meet the Candidate event Oct. 18.