Penn Yan Village election March 15

John Christensen
The Chronicle Express

Retail cannabis sales in the village has been the hot-button issue to raise interest in public office.

Penn Yan's Village Election will be held March 15 in the Village Hall.

PENN YAN — The Penn Yan village elections will be held March 15. According to records at the Yates County Board of Elections, which runs elections for the village, about twice the normal number of candidates for mayor or for village trustee are running in the races which are more often than not, uncontested. 

Two seasoned village elected officials are vying for mayor, and five new candidates are facing off against two incumbents for the three available village trustee seats. All candidates for village elections run as independents. 

MAYORAL RACE 

Incumbent Penn Yan village Mayor Leigh MacKerchar, and sitting village Trustee/Deputy Mayor Dan Condella are both running for mayor.  

Leigh MacKerchar 

Leigh MacKerchar

Born in Penn Yan, MacKerchar graduated from St. Michael's school in 1966 and Penn Yan Academy in 1970. He attended Mohawk Valley Community College in 1971, and was an electric meter tester for the Penn Yan Municipal Utilities Board in 1972. He served in the U.S. Army from 1973-1976 and was awarded Joint Service Commendation Medal for service with the Joint Refugee Information Clearing Office of the Department of Defense at the Pentagon. He earned an AAS degree in Management from CCFL in 1978. More recently, he retired as Postmaster of the Penn Yan Post Office in 2012. He is also a member of the Penn Yan Lions Club. 

MacKerchar previously served as village trustee and deputy mayor from 1991-1998; mayor from 1998-2002; and Municipal Utilities Board member 2013-2014. He was re-elected mayor from 2014 to present. As mayor, he campaigned for Penn Yan to “opt out” of retail cannabis sales. 

“My wife, Alice, and I are blessed to have our children and grandchildren living in Penn Yan. Penn Yan is a great place to raise a family and we all need to work at keeping it that way.” says MacKerchar. He emphasizes the need to use the village’s comprehensive plan, adopted in 2017, in decisions. “I encourage everyone to familiarize themselves with this document that can be found on the Village website. We all need to be involved and have a say in the future of our village.” 

MacKerchar cites the village’s success in many state and federal grants which have allowed improvements to infrastructure and provided economic development to benefit the entire community.  

“I will continue to work in the best interest of the people of Penn Yan, look for ways to meet the needs of the people of Penn Yan, and seek opportunities to help us do so. We have just been awarded a Tree City grant to address our aging trees and their replacement. We have developed a mowing plan to assure that our parks and cemetery are in first class condition for Memorial Day,” says MacKerchar. 

Regarding village finances, MacKerchar says, “As the county seat and hub of county wide commerce, the demands on the village are far greater than the needs of the 5,000 citizens of the village of Penn Yan. We must continue to make decisions that address the best interests of the people of the village of Penn Yan. The county must consider sharing sales tax revenue with the municipalities that generate this revenue. Through a 10-year agreement we receive a percentage of the bed tax generated in the village. This helps, but it does not put the village in the financial position to fund many of the projects that will contribute to the vibrant economy and tourist destination that we have become.” 

While he praises what has been achieved by the contributions of many, Mackerchar says there is still much to be done: “The people of Penn Yan should be given every opportunity to have a voice. I thank you all for your support. It is my promise to continue to work in the best interest of the People of Penn Yan.” 

Dan Condella  

Penn Yan Village Trustee/Deputy Mayor Dan Condella

Dan Condella has been a Penn Yan Village Trustee for six years, and after serving as deputy mayor for four years, he says he’s ready to step into the mayor’s seat. In the recent decision on retail cannabis sales, Condella voted to “opt in” along with a majority of the trustees, including Teresa Hoban, Kevin McCloud, and Richard Stewart. 

Condella is a marketing consultant for Finger Lakes Radio. He is a former board member of Friends of the Outlet, has served on the Yates County Youth Bureau, participates in the Penn Yan Retail Council and  Keuka College Community Associates Board, and is a member of Penn Yan Lions. 

Condella says he’s hoping village voters take the time to get to know him before the election because he feels it’s time to focus on the citizens of the village of Penn Yan.  

“This is my hometown, and I just want to use the authority of the mayor’s office to benefit the village residents,” he says, referring to the Condella family tradition of community service. His grandfather, Patsy Condella, a manager at Michaels-Stern, was involved in a number of community projects, including establishing the Keuka Outlet Trail. His uncle, Frank Condella, was Yates County Undersheriff, a village trustee, and a county legislator.  

“I want people to reach out to me any time with concerns and questions, and I promise to be responsive,” he says. Increasing housing options for middle income residents, beautification projects, street, and sidewalk improvements are at the top of Condella’s list of priorities. He says he will work to keep village residents informed of progress on various projects, and intends to take a closer look at the village tax dollars that have been spent on large projects like The Moorings development by Iversen Construction at the former Penn Yan Marine site.  

Condella and his wife, Joelle, have a daughter, Isabella, and a son, Anthony. He can be reached at pycondella@gmail.com or 315-569-6387. 

TRUSTEE RACE

Candidates for the three village trustee seats are incumbents Norman Koek and Teresa Hoban, and challengers  Bruce Gleason, Ralph Senese, Daniel Henries Jr., Rebecca Devine Godbee, and Daniel Irwin. 

The one recent issue that seems to have excited the interest in these offices was the recent “opt in” for retail cannabis sales in Penn Yan following the legalization of cannabis use, possession, and sales by the State of New York. Public meetings showed a sharp division among the residents on whether Penn Yan should allow dispensaries and possible consumption establishments. 

While there has not been a formal poll of the candidates, among the incumbents, Hoban voted to opt in and Koek voted to opt out. According to their campaigns, Gleason and Irwin were opposed to opting in, and Gleason says he remains so, fearing that other drugs will come here along with the marijuana. "It attracts a bad crowd," he says. Godbee was an active campaigner for “opting in,” organizing public support especially for those who rely on therapeutic forms of cannabis and who should have local access to it.  Henries’ spoke in favor of opting in at the public hearings and says his position on cannabis sales is that “it is a purely business decision, not an emotional decision.” Senese says his concern is strictly about the zoning and where such establishments can be located. "I know I wouldn't like to have one next to my house," he states. Irwin could not be reached before press time to elaborate on his position.